Praktyka Teoretyczna - 4(30)/2018
Feminist Movements in Central and Eastern Europe
Redaktor numeru: Julia Kubisa, Katarzyna Wojnicka
Two significant social protests that took place in Poland in recent years – a massive mobilisation of women against a ban on abortion and an occupation of the Sejm building by carers of persons with disabilities – were called strikes. In this article, we analyse the Polish Women’s Strike events of 2016, 2017 and 2018 and the strike of parents of persons with disabilities of 2018 from the perspective of a strike as a form of protest. What does it mean that both protests have been called strikes and what are the implications of incorporating the terminology of labour disputes by both protests? Strikes in Poland are a form of collective,
institutionalized industrial action of workers in wage employment, organized only by a trade union registered in a certain workplace and its subject can be exclusively of workplace matters and not on matters that are political and beyond an employer’s influence. The Polish Women’s
Strike and the protest of parents of persons with disabilities were not strikes de iure, however they rejected division between production (wage labour) and reproduction (non-wage labour), which gave a deeper meaning to the “refusal of work”. The empowerment of this event was derived from taking over the concept of the strike and providing an inclusive space to connect different actions related to struggles for reproductive rights. We interpret this as a strategy of cooptation and occupation of typical protest actions reserved for wage labour.
This article focuses on analysis of redefinitions of intimate citizenship visions in the arenas created by recent women’s protests in Poland. The 2016 and 2018 attempts by the Sejm, the lower house of the Polish Parliament, to introduce amendments to the existing law regulating access to abortion in Poland stirred dramatic social mobilisation and widespread social protests labelled with the umbrella term “Black Protests”. We see these mobilisations not only as a protest, but also as attempt to (re)define dominant notions of citizenship, and in particular, as a quest for a new model of intimate citizenship, i.e. public reconceptualisation of rights regarding the private/intimate sphere. Our article offers the in-depth analysis these reconceptualisations. It unfolds in the following way. Firstly, we discuss the phenomena of the Black Protests and Polish Women’s Strikes and present the context of their emergence as well as their agenda. Secondly, we briefly discuss the issue of intimate citizenship. We then present the methodology, as well as discussing the empirical material used for our analysis. In the final part we reconstruct the visions of (intimate) citizenship emerging from the collected material.
In one of the largest studies on coordinators of the Polish Women’s Strike (OSK) conducted in Poland so far, we carried out almost 100 CAWI and PAPI interviews with local coordinators of OSK groups from the entire country. Our aim was to get to know the people behind a countrywide network that organized the successful 2016 protests against attempts to tighten the already restrictive abortion law. We also wanted to find out what drove them to activism and how they understood the ambivalent concept of an „ordinary woman.” Although almost all of our respondents agree that the participants of the Women’s Strike in 2016 were „ordinary women”, the way they use the term “ordinary” does not align with the right-wing operationalisations of that term; on the contrary, it is associated with the diversity of the protesters. Based on the findings about the kinds of social positionings and intersections that OSK coordinators pay attention to, we discuss the issue of agency and possible reasons constraining participation in public (socio-political) life.
How it is to be an activist in a small or provincial town? Are the structural challenges the activists face the same as their counterparts from big cities, that are usually studied and described in academic literature? If the environment is different, do small town activists adopt other practices to cope with the challenges that stem from the different milieu they operate in? In this paper we try to answer some of those questions by looking at the organizers of Black Protests in provincial Polish cities in 2016 and afterwards. The protests organized to oppose the intended changes in the already repressive anti-abortion law not only surprised everybody with their scale and intensity, but also with their distribution, as majority of the protest events took place in small and provincial towns in Poland. This article aims at filling the gap within the social movement studies literature between analysis of activism in big cities (upon which majority of theories are constructed) and of rural activism.
This paper discusses the #BlackProtest mobilization among Polish migrant women
living in four European cities. The #BlackProtest is the name of the most impressive women’s
rights protest in Poland’s recent history. The main research question explored in this small
study was what the act of solidarity, demonstrated in organizing the #BlackProtest internationally, meant for its organizers. The analysis of the reasons behind the transnational
#BlackProtest organizing revealed that it is insufficient to talk about #BlackProtest
mobilization only in terms of transnational activism. The theoretical framework of the study
needed to be expanded from social movements to contemporary diasporas and the discussion
demonstrated how through a process of identities, heterogeneity and boundaries’ negotiations
a feminist diaspora was formed. Social movements’ theories, explaining the role of connective
leadership, discursive opportunity structures and emotions in social mobilization helped to
demonstrate how this media-driven mobilization initiated the emergence of a transnational,
As women gained access to influence politics through official channels, the social justice concerns of feminist activists started to be pursued in Romania through institutionalized forms of political intervention. The institutionalization and professionalization of the feminist movement were widely associated with feminist and women NGOs collaborating with governmental gender equality bodies to advance movement goals and achieve policy success. While some scholars insisted on the benefits of infusing feminist ideas and practices within the state, others considered that NGOization made the feminist movement susceptible of co-optation contributing to its demobilization and depoliticization. The concept of co-optation reflects the dilemmas faced by contemporary feminist movements regarding the displacement of feminist goals and concerns that might be adapted to other priorities and agendas – sometimes adverse and conflicting with the original aims – once they become part of the official political channels of decision-making. The resource dependency of feminist NGOs and groups on state or private funds is also associated with the co-optation of movement organizations.
With this in mind, how does one build on critical analyses around the concept of co-optation without disbanding the actions and efforts of feminist activists and NGOs as legitimating the policy agendas of state or private donors? This study aims, first, to explain, the tensions engendered by co-optation and the insider/outsider dilemma facing the contemporary feminist movement and, second, to explore the strategies developed by the feminist movement to resist or govern co-optation. In order to explore the process of co-optation, especially the tensions and strategies of resistance engendered by it, the paper uses the NGOization body of literature and provides empirical evidence from research on the Romanian feminist movement.
Digital or hashtag activism in social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook has gained popularity around the globe. Campaigns such as #MeToo and #YesAllWomen have drawn much needed attention to the problems of gender based violence and misogyny. This article is dedicated to a similar, but unique, campaign – #ЯнеБоюсьСказать (#IamNotScaredToSpeak) – that took place in Facebook’s Russian speaking community in July 2016. (It followed an identical campaign started in Ukraine, which subsequently crossed over into other former Soviet republics such as Kazakhstan.) The objective of this article is twofold. First, utilizing Discourse Analysis, I analyze posts associated with #IamNotScaredToSpeak, and argue that the campaign raised the visibility of the problem of sexual violence largely as a result of women's active participation in it. A number of women who decided to reveal their personal experiences and others who stood with them against rape culture, helped increase the significance of women's linguistic agency and made #IamNotScaredToSpeak the first large-scale feminist movement in Russia to date. Second, I will examine the specificity of the #IamNotScaredToSpeak campaign and argue that it was predominantly of a grass-roots nature with the self-organization and participation of ordinary people being crucial to the movement. By way of comparison, the #MeToo campaign, operating in the western context, was largely initiated and led by celebrities.