Feminist Rallies in Polish Cities: “Donald, we don’t Want your Love, we Want your Respect!”*
Women, men, entire families joined the street marches for the tenth year running to celebrate the 8of March and to draw attention to women's issues. The biggest protest march under the rallying call – “Another crew - the same lies” took place in Warsaw. When they got to the Sejm (the lower chamber of Polish Parliament), the protesters were met, as every year , by representatives of Młodzież Wszechpolska, an ultraconservative nationalist youth movement with fascist leanings. At around noon the 10th Manifa * set off from the Pałac Kultury.*
Not many well known politicians attended the rally; only two women politicians from the Sejm were present: Izabela Jaruga-Nowacka and Jolanta Szymanek-Deresz. Among those who made their appearance were Magdalena Środa, Kazimiera Szczuka, actresses Maria Seweryn, Paulina Młynarska and Renata Dancewicz and also the well-known journalist Jacek Żakowski.
“Another crew – the same lies!”
According to the organisers the aim of this year’s march under the rallying call “Another crew – the same lies!” was to draw attention to the fact that “every ruling coalition had their own ideas on how to worsen the women’s situation, no government ever listened to the people.”
- It is our wish that the issues of infertility be dealt with by specialists, that is the doctors, while the role of the state is to be limited to the provision of refunds for such services, one good reason being that the state is also in need of more children – said Magdalena Środa, a former Government Plenipotentiary for Equal Status of Women and Men in the cabinet of Marek Belka.
„Donald, we don ‘t want your love, we want your respect!”
The demands displayed on banners ranged from ending violence against women, state refunds for ‘in vitro’; fertilisation, parity in the elections, to the separation of Church fromthe State.
The participants carried banners with slogans demanding a right to abortion ("Each of us is different - all for a freedom of choice", "We demand a safe and legal abortion"), tolerance ("homophobia is a disease") and the right to an "in vitro" fertilisation ("No - to the Gowin Bill*", "In vitro? What for! - All you need is a prayer" , " We want creches for our embryos").
There were also slogans of a political nature (“Donald, we don’t want your love, we want your respect!”); anticlerical (“Bishops stay away from our bodies”, “We want health, not ‘Hail Marys’”,), international (“Feminism – that’s hot”, “American gays love Polish feminists”) or cryptic and whimsical (“Girls also draw comics”).
„Feminists onto tractors”
The Anarchists added their anti-state slogans, while the banners of the Workers’Democracy (Demokracja Pracownicza) displayed slogans which were anti-capitalist (“No more sexism, no more capitalism”). Another group that was represented at the march was “Facts and Myths” (“Fakty i Mity”). All the way down Marszałkowska Street, Aleje Jerozolimskie, Nowy Świat, up till Wiejska Street (where the Parliament is located) the participants of the rally were protected by the police.
In front of Sejm (Parliament) the feminists were met, as every year, by a small but noisy group representing Młodzież Wszechpolska, an ultraconservative nationalist youth movement with fascist sympathies. Men dressed in black (accompanied by a handful of women) chanted invectives: “Feminists onto tractors!”, “Each of you is different, but you are all ugly!”, “Feminists are nazis”, or “Feminists are communists”. The slogans on their banners said: “Feminazi stop” and “Stop abortion”.
„No” to a poster depicting a bishop
The Warsaw street march drew controversy long before the 8th of March. It concerned the promotional campaign and its posters, some of which depicted an image of a clergyman with a slogan “A Bishop is not God” and others a rosary with the words “We want health not ‘Hail Marys’”. The Warsaw Department of Transport refused permission for the posters to be placed on the city buses, claiming they were too controversial. In the end the posters found their way onto billboards in the Warsaw streets.
“Drinking to the health of ladies’ is not enough”
Street marches also took place in other major Polish cities – in Gdańsk, Kraków, Łódz and Wrocław. On Saturday the 4th Śląsk Manifa took place in Katowice. This year’s rallying call was “Drinking to the health of ladies is not enough”. It took place on Saturday because according to the organiser Małgorzata Tkacz-Janik “Sunday is a traditional day of rest in Śląsk and the attendance would be poorer.”
The International Women’s Day is a public holiday established in 1910 to commemorate the strike of 15 thousand women workers, employees of a textiles factory in New York, who on the 8th March 1908 demanded voting rights and better working conditions. The factory owner locked the striking women in the factory buildings to avoid publicity. 129 women died as a result of a sudden fire.
[kaw, ŁUD, sm/iga/tr]
translated by Monika Sarnowska
*A reference to the so called “politics of love” , an approach proposed by Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk after his PO party won the parliamentary elections in 2007
*Manifa - an anti-establishment word for a street rally/demonstration/protest march
*Pałac Kultury i Nauki, Palace of Culture and Science, the tallest building in Poland, built in 1952-55, a present from the Soviet nation for the Polish nation, the initiator of the idea was Joseph Stalin.
*Gowin Bill - According the Jaroslaw Gowin’s draft of the Bioethical Bill in Poland, IVF procedures would be available only for sterile married couples.
*Krytyka Polityczna (Political Critique)– a leftist socio-political journal, founded in 2002.
*Drinking to the health of ladies present” – is a common expression when raising a toast; also a popular hit in the 70’s by Edward Hulewicz