By Kuba Kaliński (transl. Kuba Kalinski, Nena Argent)
Biographical noteAgnieszka Graff was born in 1970 in Warsaw. She’s a writer, translator, feminist, and university lecturer. She studied at the School of Social Sciences (Warsaw), The University of Oxford, and Amherst College (Massachusetts); she has a degree in English literature. Graff is co-founder of March 8 Women’s Agreement, and a member of Krytyka Polityczna. She wrote several books, “World without Women: Gender in Polish Public Life” (2001), “Ricochet: on Gender, Sexuality, and Nation” (2008), “Magma and Other Attempts to Understand What’s Up with It” (2010). She’s married to Bernard Osser; they have one child.
Subjective Viewpoint: Man Is a Political Concept
- Feminist Left Wing Agnieszka Graff says about herself that she’s a feminist, Pole of Jewish descent, left wing’s activist. I’m not leftist, I’m not interested in feminism, my mother wasn’t Jewish and I have trouble with my Polish identity. However, I dedicate these lines to Agnieszka, because there are numerous values that we share.
- “Man” is a Political Concept I met Agnieszka at meetings which we called self-education caucus. If it weren’t for my friends of Jewish descent, I wouldn’t have known about these meetings. Polish people of Polish origin more likely frequented Oasis or the Catholic Intelligentsia Clubs. I felt a slight reluctance to both. We were fifteen or sixteen years old when, during a meeting dedicated to discuss abortion, Agnieszka stated, with astonishing clarity and firmness, that she saw no problem if an actress decided to have an abortion due to her career, no matter what the cause of the pregnancy. It was too strong even for our elder ultra-liberal, as I thought then, colleagues conducting these meetings. I still agree with Agnieszka; basically, it’s a woman’s decision what to do with a piece of living human matter nested inside her body. Forcing a woman to give birth, particularly a woman for whom it would be a health risk, is a typical manifestation of the totalitarian mindset. This is a common practice of totalitarian systems such as: fascism, communism, islam, catholicism, to name the most known. Asking question whether a fetus is a human being or from what moment it is human, in the context of abortion is ridiculous. First, the boundary between what is and isn’t human remains fluid, regardless of how many lawyers and Aristotles how many definitions can produce. “Man”, in the context of zoology, is a name of a species; outside of that context “man” is a political concept. Secondly, it is a problem of living matter. However, not every living matter deserves to be protected by law, a lot of living structures should be destroyed and so it happens indeed. Third, as far as possible morality should remain individual, not being a directive of the Vatican or a state. Fourth, people exhibiting concern for the unborn children are guided by psychotic, religious delusions or cynically exploit credulity and gullibility of others in order to gain power. Fifth, the majority of pregnant women chose to give birth. Those who don’t, usually have very good reasons for not doing so.
- To Cure Political Power Agnieszka trails violence of the political power, in particular in language and symbolic systems. I doubt if she agrees with me, maybe I’m more radical and expose myself more to the risk of nonsense (soloists are allowed more) but I’d say that political programs and narratives are usually tools in the hands of individuals aspiring to power. These programs and narratives are different, we can evaluate them according to different criteria and adhere to proposed ideas, such as emancipation for instance, but there’s always someone at the head. Usually that person is a man who strives to widen the field of his power by all possible means. “Left wing” and “right wing” are complex socio-technical tools. They can’t be taken seriously as intellectual systems because they are deeply inconsistent and unclear. My hypothesis is that people striving for power suffer from a sexual disorder. Is a society that cures powersick people by a sexual orgy possible? Here is my idea to save the world: Jarosław Kaczyński, Jan Paweł II and Vladimir Putin in a libertine club.
- Niqab vs. High Heels As to feminism, I’d probably agree with 60% of its claims, if I knew them. The problem is that depriving people of femininity and masculinity, including depriving them of social roles and language games, causes a reduction in the birth rate while increasing the Swedish-Thai, French-Brazilian and Arab-Arab offspring. The asexual world is less funny. I’m afraid that radical feminism is a slightly self-destructive strategy. It bothers me that women fighting for equal rights care less about the “small things” like beauty. If the liberation of women enslaved by niqab is a part of feminism, I’m a feminist. If changing dresses to trousers and resignation from the art of makeup and walking in high heels is a part of feminism, I cease to be a feminist. I would prefer Sacha Baron Cohen express this sort of statements: I’m not for patriarchy, I’m for sex.
- Silent Heroism I admire Agnieszka for the way she expresses her thoughts, simply and forcefully at the same time, without courting readers or desiring to please the audience. In Poland where the absolute majority has been “vassalized” by catholic church she seems to be one of the few people free from leftist hysteria on the one hand, unbroken by christian or socialist political correctness on the other. I’ve left Poland and chosen desertion because I don’t believe Poland to be “salvageable”. Agnieszka Graff has chosen silent heroism not expecting any applause. I wish for her sake that I’m wrong.
- Do We Need to Beat Boors? Internet, as we all know, is the most powerful tool invented for wicked, unpunished, public denigration of other people. Agnieszka Graff, perhaps rightly, nowhere has deflected (or I haven’t found it) allegations of ideological affinity with stalinist prosecutors bearing the same name as hers. Firstly, the fact that my father was a fascist, my grandfather a nationalist, doesn’t make me any of them. Such reasoning doesn’t meet either requirements of logic, nor follows psychological realism. Typically, the pendulum swing causes a shift in the opposite direction in the next generation. Second, you have to be a jerk to attract audience attention by scrabbling in the biographies of parents and grandparents of your political opponents, adding an aura of holiness to yourself. Third, convergence of names proves convergence of names and that’s all. I don’t know a remedy to that sanctimonious bosh. I suggest not paying attention to hyenas. If intrusive, play louder Carmina Burana or Summertime.
- Oikophobia Oikophobia is a new term describing fear of home, aversion to tradition. The term is useful because it succinctly describes widespread dislike to one’s own community, in particular to the national community. It’s true that sometimes leftist and liberal discourse fall in anti-national absurdities and the accompanying moral pathos results in expressing nonsense. Psychiatric manuals should take into account the new entries: “oikophobic complex” and “Macierewicz’ coplex”. I’ve read with interest the article by Professor Jacek Bartyzel to determine that I show symptoms of the first one. It hasn’t surprised me; I show symptoms of more than half the diseases described by psychiatry: depression, melancholia, schizophrenia, rage, not to mention suicidal tendencies and several addictions. It should be noted, however, that oikophobia may be right. “The Correction”, a Thomas Bernhard’s novel, is an example of such rightness. For those unfamiliar with the book a short explanation: if most of your countrymen are Nazis, aversion to the community is perfectly understandable. Oedipus and Jesus were oikophobic, in a sense. Jacek Bartyzel ends the article about oikophobia as follows,
(Meanwhile, I learn that “liberal” minister of “liberal” Polish government proposed state registration of pregnancies. “No” has always been my favorite word. It still is.)
“There’s a cure for oikophobia, the same as in every other area of life, mentally plundered by rationalism of Enlightenment and irrationalism of postmodernism; a return to classical-Christian civilization, to realistic metaphysics and anthropology, enlightened by a supernatural light of faith, as well as patriotism moderated by Christian universalism; re-predication of education on uncontaminated by relativism and undistorted by ideology ‘great texts’: religious, philosophical and literary.”
One needs to have intellectual disorder to mumble in this manner. One needs to have serious disturbances to seriously publish such nonsense. Universities that grant degrees to people formulating similar ideas are incubators of stupidity. Since this applies to most of the universities in Poland, my oikophobia, as wells as oikophobia of Agnieszka Graff, has a fertile ground on which it can grow successfully. Meanwhile, Professor Czapiński asked not be called professor any longer because that title doesn’t mean anything in Poland today. I send my best regards to Mr. Czapiński.
The World without Women
Souad - Burned Alive
Agnieszka Graff - quotes & fragments
Another cause for controversy is that the congress has abandoned the struggle for reproductive rights. Abortion was banned in Poland in 1993, and a huge underground has evolved. With sex education long gone from schools, and religion lessons securely installed in its stead, public debate about sexuality and motherhood is run by the Catholic church – a discourse of shame, not rights. Can reproductive freedom be strategically placed on a back burner for a time, and then made central again when women have gained political power? It sounds like a good plan, but the “right time” may never arrive, and meanwhile the conservative forces continue to push their agenda. The struggle for abortion long lost, we now need to defend in vitro fertilisation, which – like abortion – is viewed as “murder” by the church.