According to our statistics the Polish ladies article became a hit No. 1 on “Polen voor Nederlanders” website, being not only the most read, but also commented. This should not surprise since the website is frequently visited by many Dutch men interested in relationship with a Polish woman, as well as those who have (or had) a Polish female partner. The latter describe their experiences and indicate their own, the most flattering assessment of their Polish sweethearts, although there are also some negative opinions.
At the time of writing this article (May 2013) no one could predict that only two years later, in 2015, the main rivalry candidates for being the prime ministry will be two women – the then Prime Ewa Kopacz and Beata Szydło, the member of PiS (the Prime since November 2015). As for the still patriarchal and conservative Poland, quite a revolution! So has the Polish society changed?
Ewa Kopacz Beata Szydło
Not necessarily. On one side in politics women get more importance, but on the other side we are witnessing a large scale campaign pushing them up again in the old-fashioned frame of “3 x K” – Kinder, Kirche, Kϋche (children, Church, kitchen).
In his polemic on Polenforum.nl its Administrator writes: “Germany “Kinder, Kirche, Küche” is there already outdated term and should have not been used in the article.” Meanwhile, according to the analysis of the content of the Polish women’s magazines like “Dobre rady” (Good Advices), “Przyjaciółka” (Friend) or “Pani domu” (A housewife), this particular model is currently being strongly promoted in Poland by publishers. A highly worrying and not without a chance of success, because it happened already in the history that moral liberalism gave way to moral conservatism. It is hard to predict whether women will accept being squeezed again in the archaic moral schemes, but a great defense of the “Polish tradition” continues.
I refer here to the article of Elizabeth Turlejska “Woman and sewing”* from “Polityka” (no 27 of 1 July 2015). The title is a paraphraze of the title of a popular womens’ magazine called “Kobieta i życie” (The woman and life) – in the paraphraze “życie” (life) is replaced by similar sounding word “szycie” (sewing). The author begins her text as follows: “[…] In the more than 8 million of copies [of the advisory women’s magazines – rg] Polish women are herded into houses, persuaded to religion and taught how fondly is to maintain the patriarchy “. As it turns out, strict publisher’s censorship prohibits promoting women’s activity in business and politics (!), divorced or separated women have no chance to be heroines of the article, even if they fulfill the high functions as Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz or Elizabeth Bieńkowska which is now a commissioner of the European Union.
A moral or sexual women’s freedom is presently taboo while her religiousness is very welcome. Career aspiration should be replaced by the care of home and family. The modern Polish Mother is not subordinate to her husband anymore, but serves as his adviser and manager. Significantly – advices “how to please him in bed” give way to advices “how to take care of his health.”
That’s what – by publishers – Polish ladies expect from the advisory press, not wishing to buy the title serving inappropriate content. And those publishers watch the situation carefully as they care for good sale their magazines.Such a policy of popular women’s magazines fits perfectly into the cultural counterrevolution run by the right-wing circles (including of course the Church), who are staunch defenders of the traditional “Polish” values and traditional Polish family. These environments were doing everything to prevent the adoption of the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence. – Does Poland need this law? In Poland woman is respected more than in other European countries. Do not let touch Polish family. She and the family home is a stronghold of Polishness, patriotism and faith [catholic – rg] – has said in his homily the Bishop Ryczan (the quote is taken from Joanna Podgórska “Fight for violence”, Polityka No. 41 of 10.08.2014).
It doesn’t matter that according to a study of the Institute of Justice every year about 700 000 – 1 000 000 women are beaten or raped by their partners (data from “Fight for violence”), and almost every month a battered child must be taken to the hospital (some of those kids die). Polish woman for the sake of the family has to suffer in silence, as did her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother – this is the good “Polish tradition”. A special rage of conservative circles is turned against the gender ideology that threatens the traditionally conceived role of woman. Many people regard it as an incentive for women to have ceased to play the role assigned to them by tradition, social norms and biology. For conservative environments it is not acceptable. This style of anti-gender thinking is in Poland, unfortunately, quite common.
It’s not easy for Polish woman to get out from the stereotype imposed her on by centuries, although this does not mean that there are no positive examples, as is rightly pointed out also by the Dutch commentators of the text.
Photo: Renata Głuszek, Wikipedia (Ewa Kopacz, Beata Szydło)
July 2015 / August 2016