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Journal Article


Hall B. Am. Behav. Sci. 2019; 63(10): 1497-1515.


(Copyright © 2019, SAGE Publishing)






The rise to power of the populist Law and Justice Party (PiS) in 2015, and its growing authoritarianism, has politicized thousands of Poles and brought large-scale protests back to Polish streets. Women have been at the forefront of these struggles, aligning the previously unpopular quest for reproductive rights and bodily autonomy with the larger resistance to the ruling party. In particular, the proposal to restrict the abortion law sparked mass mobilization in 2016, with Black Protests turning into a formative experience for many of the previously nonactive participants. This article sheds light on this most recent wave of feminist activism in Poland and its forms of action, from a generational perspective. It scrutinizes in detail the narrative of a "new generation of activists," who claim to change the contours of Polish feminism, making it more inclusive, more creative and bolder. It reports on the shift, unfolding slowly since the 2000s, from the institutionalized feminism of nongovernmental organizations to less formal, grassroots forms of engagement that combine online activism with organizing on the ground. However, while the latter is often assumed to be skeptical toward the European Union's "gender equality" framework, the article reveals how, within the context of growing authoritarianism, the youngest cohorts in particular return to the liberal strand of feminism, characterized by the language of human rights and an uncritical gaze toward the European Union. The article ends with a reflection on the proclaimed 'newness' of feminism in Poland, as articulated by the new generation of activists. The absence of intergenerational dialogue and transmission of knowledge, it is argued, render past feminist struggles in Poland invisible and forgotten and strikingly leaves unquestioned the legacy of previous neoliberal and patriarchal governments that led to the erosion of women's rights in postsocialist Poland.

Language: en


abortion; Black Protest; feminism; Poland; women’s movement


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