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“Worse than communism and nazism put together”: War on Gender in Poland
University of Warsaw, Poland.
Södertörn University, School of Culture and Education, Gender Studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8263-5530
2017 (English)In: Anti-gender campaigns in Europe: mobilizing against equality / [ed] Roman Kuhar and David Paternotte, London and New York: Rowman & Littlefield International, 2017, p. 175-194Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This paper examines the mobilization against “gender” which has spread across Poland since 2012, pointing to both local specificities and links to the transnational context. It is shown that while Polish anti-genderism is part of a boarder transnational trend (a fact long invisible to most of Poland’s liberal defenders of gender), some aspects of this phenomenon are indeed locally embedded. The campaign has consisted of many initiatives undertaken by the Catholic Church and conservative groups to fight gender equality education and legislation, sexual and reproductive rights, as well as the very use of the term “gender” in policy documents and public discourse. Polish anti-gender campaigners claim that their aim is to protect the Polish family (especially children) against feminists and the “homosexual lobby”; to defend authentic Polish cultural values (which are equated with Catholic values) against the foreign influence of the corrupt West and liberal European Union. Targets include sexual education, ratification of the Istanbul Convention and gender equality policies more broadly. The authors argue that the current wave of anti-gender mobilization in Poland is not business as usual or another wave of conservative backlash, but a new ideological and political configuration, which successfully combines the local and the transnational, making possible a politically effective mass movement. We argue that the success of anti-gender mobilization can be explained by its leaders’ skillful references to ordinary people’s dignity and their identity as an oppressed majority. Anti-genderism consistently presents itself as an effort to defend authentic indigenous values against foreign forces and corrupt elites – a discourse which we interpret as a variant of right-wing appropriation of the anti-colonial frame. What may be construed as an Eastern European peculiarity is that in the region gender tends to be discredited as totalitarian ideology as exemplified by the following statement made in 2013 by Polish Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek: “Gender ideology is worse than communism and Nazism put together”. While the contested policies are coming from the West and are presented as Western impositions, genderism itself is seen as a vast project of social engineering rooted in Marxism and comparable to Stalinism. This tension or ambivalence persists in many of the documents and statements examined here: genderism is demonized as a cultural imposition a foreign body that is Western and Eastern at the same time.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London and New York: Rowman & Littlefield International, 2017. p. 175-194
Keywords [en]
gender, anti-gender, social movements, right-wing populism, conservatism, Poland
National Category
Gender Studies
Research subject
Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-33816Local ID: 1415/3.1.1/2014ISBN: 9781783489992 (print)ISBN: 9781786600011 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:sh-33816DiVA, id: diva2:1163525
Projects
Genus och politiska kunskapskulturer i Polen, Sverige och Tyskland
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, A 78/2014Available from: 2017-12-07 Created: 2017-12-07 Last updated: 2017-12-07Bibliographically approved

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Korolczuk, Elżbieta

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