Agnieszka Graff


The complexities of Polish gender politics can be conceptualized as a series of paradoxes. Until recently, Polish feminists had denied the very possibility of a Polish women’s movement. This article argues that Polish feminism resists the chronology of “waves”: it uses styles and tactics characteristic of the third wave (irony, high theory, camp, cross-dressing, etc.) to achieve typically second wave aims (reproductive rights, equal pay, etc.). It then engages with a historical paradox: the phenomenon of backlash before feminism. Rejecting the political in favour of the personal was compatible with psycho-sexual dynamics already in progress – these were a defence against the intrusiveness of state involved in building a deeply conservative private sphere. The article then moves onto an examination of the present deadlock between the Catholic church, the post-communist government and the women’s movement.

Author Biography

Agnieszka Graff, Associate Professor of Literature and Culture, American Studies Center, University of Warsaw, Poland