GB No. 5-6, summer-fall 1991
We could describe the situation of women in Poland under two points of view: cultural and social. Both have influence on each other and create the situation in which Polish women live.
As everyone knows, Poland is a state where for centuries the catholic church had got the largest influence. This influence is political as well as cultural, forming in its specific way the morality of the society. The catholic church determines a complex system of behavior and thought of women, as well as the behavior of men towards women. Let us introduce some examples to introduce that with facts.
One example are the professionally active women (the majority of them). These are not only active professionally, but also have to fulfill all the family duties. The men' not taking part in house work results from the patriarchal relations ruling Polish families. Professional duties are often as heavy for women as they are for women.
Another example is the situation of lone women, who find themselves at the rand of the society in our country. The opinion about them is that they are amoral women. This, because Polish people believe that only women living in a legalized union (by church and the state) are individuals of some worth. The situation of lone mothers is even worse. They are treated like prostitutes. Their life is an everyday tragedy as their children as well get repressed.
We mentioned that the catholic church is determining the morality of the society. This morality is based on the prescriptions, rules and dogmas of the catholic religion, according to which the woman is worth just as much as a thing. She's the property of the man. She's supposed to keep fully submitted to men. She has got no right to take any decision concerning her own person by herself. If in an exceptional situation she does, her husband or the man she is kinked with (son, brother, father) is by the same breaking the rules of the church.
This principles have influenced and still do influence the image in the conscience of the Polish society. Women themselves have adopted that image so deep, that keep passive to any tries to make them aware of how anormal the situation is. A hard example of women's passivity and clericalism in our country are the tries of adopting a bill forbidding abortion. Those tries have been undertaken without any consultation with women - the parliament itself beeing the strongest opposer to that consultation, considering the whole case as obvious. This bill has not yet been adopted for political reasons, not because of any larger resistance to it. There also is a bill project against divorce which had been proposed to the parliament for one year.
The matter of sexuality is tabou and shamefull in Poland so far, that there is an absolute lack of sexual education as well at home as at school. It got extremely difficult to buy contraceptives (which are prohibited by the church). There is no such an admitted idea as "free love", and every homosexual union is considered as dirty and amoral, while heterosexual unions are strictly based on the dependence of men and women.
The social life in Poland is dominated by men, while the women play a minor role. As we mentioned women usually keep passive, and when they try to break through that passivity by taking an active part in the social life, they get hardly criticized, despiced, and laughed out (even in alternative movements). Social activity is even more difficult because of professional activity and family charges. Women are so busy with working that they basically cannot find time for anything else. The low participation of women in the social life is also a result of the education, teaching the women that they are humans of a second kind. That's the reason of their lack of any conscience of their worth.
The situation of women in Poland is very worrying. We are afraid it would only get worse. Increasing unemployment (women are fired first because of the social rights they enjoy) as well as increasing influence of the catholic church (abortion bill) will strengthen that process. Surely women must meet the same kind of problems in other countries like South Ireland, but in Poland their situation is very clear and shocking.
Please excuse the lack of statistic information, but there is just no actual data available about women!
Anarchist Federation - Opole
Recently women from the Opole group of the Anarchist Federation have formed the first anarchofeminist group in Poland. The first job the new group has done was to write this report for the "Class War" Conference in London, 24-29 September 1991. the group is building up connections with anarchists feminist women in Hungary and CzechoSlovakia...
Beata Kubica & Asia Andrzejczuk
os. Spółdzielcze 7/70
Kraków - Nowa Huta
translation: Marcin Rey