It is often said that Polish women are the most beautiful in the world. You can argue with it, but certainly they care much about their look. So if they are not of a great beauty, they will carefully conceal it with make-up and fashionable dress. But what about their inside?
The character of Polish women was negatively (from a feminist point of view) affected by the uneasy Polish history, especially the 19th century. The loss of independence, a number of the uprising, repression and exile of men-patriots to Siberia by the Russian authorities led to an abnormal situation when it was woman’s responsibility to care about the family and raise children. As a result a long lasting pattern of ideal “Polish mother” has appeared: a guardian of the family hearth, responsible for the upbringing of children.
Artur Grottger “Goodbye”, 1866
For this noble purpose she had to sacrifice her personal happiness and ambition. Sometimes – and this is so even today – also her health or even life. It happens in the case of pathological pregnancy – if it is necessary to choose between a woman and the unborn child, for many the choice is obvious: life is for a child. This is why the issue of abortion in Poland is still unresolved, and never will be resolved in the womens’ interest.
The case is still a live issue. In September 2016, during the political rule of the ultra-conservative party Law and Justice (PiS), an attempt was taken to adopt a very restrictive anti-abortion law, which totally bans abortion. This caused mobilization of Polish women and their strong opposition, which on October 3 turned to a “black protest” – the massive demonstrations of black-clad women (and men supporting them).
Black protest in Racibórz, October 3, 2016. Photo: Paweł Okulowski, nowiny.pl
This pattern of the woman’s sacrifice lingers to this day, maintained carefully by the Catholic Church (“for the sake of the family woman should not finish the unhappy marriage”). Although they were Germans who invented the famous 3 x K (Kinder, Kirche,Kuche = church, kitchen, children), it fits perfectly to Polish mentality. Even in 21st century, the most important for the average Polish lady is her family and children (for whom she often cares too much and never lets them grow up too early). According to a study conducted by Millward Brown SMG / KRC, the hierarchy of values is as follows: family, health, motherhood, security and happy relationship. A successful relationship is important for women because most of them believe that it is a man’s duty to bring money for the maintenance. So the most welcome male’s characteristics are such as caregiving, responsibility, diligence and resourcefulness. (Note: they don’t look for intellectuals!)
For 25% of respondents it is important to live in peace and believe in God. Such highly conservative image of Polish women that emerges from various studies can be therefore very attractive to men looking for warm, devoted and docile partners, tolerant to male weakness, men not seeking for liberated ones. In this sphere Polish women passed a centuries-old education, which taught them a passive attitude of domestic violence, because they were told that “if husband loves, he beats”. The same with a tolerance for drinking as “real man has to be drunk sometimes”. Heavily burdened with the role of mother, wife, lover, supply staff, teacher, janitor, cook, nanny (first of her own kids and then of grandchildren), etc., she humbly endured uneasy fate, seeking solace not in combat, but in prayer.
Unfortunately, it seems that this sad legacy of Polish social conservatism has not yet been overcome.The strength of tradition and high acceptance of male dominance is also visible in the sphere of sex, at least for the older generations. Most women believe that the initiative in matters of bed belongs to a man, and that it is him to propose marriage. The typical Polish ladies’ features that may appeal to foreigners include the ability to cook well, but it is forced by indigence of typical Polish family. Most of them are not able to eat out in restaurants. But many women really like to cook and bake and do the kitchens stuff. To illustrate it well with international comparison, a typical Polish woman is closer to a maternal Sophia Loren than to a femme fatale Brigitte Bardot. The answer therefore to the question whether Polish lady is attractive depends on what one is looking for in a woman. Traditionalists who value peace and home, and who attach importance to the appearance of a lady, will certainly be satisfied.
The image of Polish women presented above differs of course with successive generations. The youngest are still religious (tradition!), but they live in illegitimate relationships with partners and increasingly appreciate personal freedom or escape from boring family duties. The same concerns cooking because modern mothers often keep away their daughters from the kitchen and household care. Ladies in their 20. care more for education and their careers. One thing remains the same however – a big care for the look and high interest in fashion and cosmetics.
A Polish woman is however interested not only in cosmetics and her family. It is she who in the recent, very difficult times for Poland openly says STOP to fascism, which is gaining its momentum. When on November 11, 2017, on the Independence Day, the extremely nationalist March of Independence was taking place in the streets of Warsaw, whose participants shouted racist and fascist slogans, eight activists of the organization Citizens of the Republic of Poland stood in the way with the banner “Fascism STOP.” And it was women who on January 29 sent a petition to the Minister of Internal Affairs asking for decisive action to block the spread of fascism and nationalism in Poland. Such an attitude today requires considerable courage, because it may lead to the threat of beatings (during marches), arrests or lawsuits. The Polish woman is now passing a great exam.
Photo: Obywatele RP
The article uses data from a survey of “Gazeta Wyborcza”: “Polka 2007” (February 2007) and gazeta.pl “What Women Want”, April 2011
Published: May 11, 2013; update: October 5th, 2016 / January 29th, 2018
Foto: Wikipedia, Renata Głuszek, Katarzyna Olczak, Paweł Okulowski, nowiny.pl