'Gender Ideology': Tracing the Evolution of Sexuality and Gender Panic in Poland
(University of Warsaw)
Paper short abstract:
This paper seeks to understand the historical and transnational roots of contemporary ideas about and current moral panic over sexuality and gender in Poland.
Paper long abstract:
Currently, sexuality and gender are at the center of public debate in Poland. Debates over 'gender ideology' (an umbrella term used by conservatives to cover various phenomena including sex education, feminism, LGBTQ movements, and reproductive rights) constitute major political and cultural conflicts: Catholic bishops extensively discuss the threat Judith Butler's work poses to the Polish nation; conservatives oppose women's rights; nationalists brutally attack LGBTQ marches. The new Polish conservative government is explicit about building a new Poland without 'gender ideology' and 'sexual perversions'. Gender and sexuality are also used against the idea of hosting the refugees: 'they will rape our women,' 'they will force our women to veil'. Progressive activists urge that "backward" Poland should catch up with the "developed" West in order to gain sexual and gender rights. In this paper, drawing on my ethnographic and archival research, I track the evolution of current sexuality and gender panic in Poland. I show its historical and transnational roots. On the one hand, it results from the local historical construction of gendered and sexual subjects under socialism and after, on the other, it wouldn't be possible without the influence of global radicalized conservatism.
Gender, far-right, and political radicalization