होम Gender & History Hatching Feminisms: Czech Feminist Aspirations in the 1990s

Hatching Feminisms: Czech Feminist Aspirations in the 1990s

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खंड:
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साल:
2008
भाषा:
english
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DOI:
10.1111/j.1468-0424.2007.00510.x
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Reflections on Women and Gender in Twentieth-Century Mexico Introduction

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Rethinking Twentieth-Century Guadalajara

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Gender & History ISSN 0953-5233
Angela Argent, ‘Hatching Feminisms: Czech Feminist Aspirations in the 1990s’
Gender & History, Vol.20 No.1 April 2008, pp. 86–104.

Hatching Feminisms: Czech Feminist
Aspirations in the 1990s
Angela Argent

In 1999, an article appeared in the Saturday magazine of the reputable and popular
Prague newspaper Lidové noviny. Written by the feminist intellectual, rock musician
and translator, Pavla Jonssonová, ‘Will Feminism Form the Soul of the New Millennium?’ emphasised the need for society to ‘start again and better’. Jonssonová imagined
a central role for feminism in the metaphorical birth of a new post-socialist social order
in the Czech Republic:
Feminisms that support this, be it through the help of cultural and political activism or theoretical
analysis, function as oxytocin or prostaglandin when dilating the cervix, and feminists as midwives
encourage all of us as one collective (woman in labour): ‘Breathe! Now push! And the child is
almost out!’ Endorphins, transporting us to a height of holotrophic breathing during labour prepare
us for an unforgettable experience if we are capable of realising it, and if we are not to lose ourselves
in labour pains.1

In her allusions to the problems of re-establishing Czech democracy and all that was
wrong with post-socialist Czech society after 1989, Jonssonová claimed that a specifically female kind of endurance and perseverance was needed if society were not to
lose itself in ‘labour pains’. She referred here to the gruelling social, psychological,
economic and political hurdles of transition. Jonssonová’s labour metaphor suggested
that labour pains bring with them risk, blood and danger, which unequivocally are to be
borne by women alone. Possessing enormous strength of character, moral conviction
and inner integrity in the face of adversity, women are depicted as the quintessential
embodiment of courage and sacrifice. However, she argued, only feminism’s midwives
themselves possess the expert knowledge that would ena; ble them to encourage, direct
and facilitate the actual process of symbolic birth as well as to catch the metaphorical
infant born in freedom and to feminise her. Jonssonová and other feminist intellectuals
discussed here were also uniquely placed to criticise the negative aspects of the new
order after state socialism and to offer a vision of better ways to use the new-found
freedoms.
This article examines the ways in which, during the mid to late 1990s, a handful of
Czech feminist intellectuals imagined a role for local feminisms that was both highly
symbolic and enormously practical. Many of the intellectuals involved in the process
developed a maternal vocabulary and terminology that enabled them to articulate the
stages in the development of Czech feminist thought. Central to this discussion was

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the notion of hatching, a deeply symbolic term that encapsulated the importance of the
role of feminism in the incubation, regeneration and renewal of the new social order in
the Czech context.2
To this end, feminists from within and outside the academy, Pavla Jonssonová,
philosopher and sociologist Hana Havelková, the Anglo-American studies specialist, Eva Véšı́nová-Kalivodová, sociologist Maria Cermáková and psychologist Šárka
Gjuričová, were joined by eco-feminist writers and novelists Alexandra Berková, Maria
Haisová, Eva Hauserová and Mirka Holubová, the film-maker Olga Sommerová and
self-professed ‘male feminist’ Miroslav Vodrážka/ Mirka Vodrážková, among others.3
In a range of texts that became both increasingly media-savvy and directed towards
popular audiences, these intellectuals claimed that, unlike men, women were untainted
by the state socialist past. Women, they claimed, had kept a careful distance from
men’s compromised worlds through their primary identification with the family and
the independent values that it stood for. According to their view, the former state socialist order, remembered for its mendacity, hypocrisy, incompetence and corruption,
was the domain of men alone. The entire period since state socialism presided over by
men was corrosive and uninhabitable and men were in the process of reinstituting antidemocratic practices in the present. In their view, only women remained in possession
of moral virtue and life-sustaining energies, and for this reason women should be seen
to be singularly qualified as leaders of the new order. A range of writers have claimed
that during state socialism, for women, the family remained ‘a space for the fulfilment
of their free will . . . an island of individual freedom in a sea of societal unfreedom’
and that women consciously made use of this opportunity for escape.4 Texts by the
authors who held this view and the arguments contained within them form the core of
this essay and will be discussed in detail.
All the feminists mentioned above had some association with the Nadace gender studies/Foundation for Gender Studies (a Czech NGO known prior to 1998 as the
Centrum pro gender studies v Praze/Prague Gender Studies Centre). They were more
prepared than most to condemn what they saw as the ‘national sport’ of pejorative connotations, pigeonholing, labelling and deliberate misrecognition of feminism, that was
taking hold within a ‘microcosm of stereotypes, fears and banalities’, and ‘bottomless
ignorance’.5 They contrasted their own stance to that of the ‘sleeping feminists’,6 who
could only muster vague dissatisfaction and ambivalence towards what they saw as
the ‘current, sporadic discourse on women’s place in society [that] considers the topic
of marginal importance – if not completely redundant – in the context of the newly
emerging complex social reality and the rapid changes currently engulfing all levels
of society’.7 In their attempts to create spaces in the popular media for reasoned, as
opposed to defensive, discussions about feminism, the texts discussed here highlight
the conflicts, dilemmas and paradoxes that these intellectuals faced as they tried to
establish women’s status as autonomous, self-representing individuals’.8
I locate these texts within a particular genre of writing that Hana Havelková has
referred to as the ‘explanatory’ face of Czech feminism.9 Both Jonssonová’s text and
Havelková’s characterisation of this newer genre of writing stand in stark contrast to
the internationally better known and more protective Czech feminism intended for
foreign consumption that emerged soon after 1989. These earlier texts, known to Anglophone readers mostly from the consternation it engendered among them, included
former dissident Jiřina Šiklová’s path-breaking work.10 Texts that reviled the ‘F’ word

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(feminism), and that had the most savage things to say about its irrelevance, seemed to
hold the greatest appeal among Anglophone audiences. Readers of ‘Czech feminism’
appeared to be available wherever a spectrum of emotions towards the term could be
evoked and when authors tenaciously and sometimes ostentatiously resisted the uncritical transfer of seemingly pret-à-porter feminist knowledges. Havelková accused
Anglophone editors of ‘conceal[ing] the current state of affairs’ by always allowing the
same contributors to repeat the old arguments on why feminism could not emerge.11
Articles on feminism in Czech took a different tack. Rather than deriding the
uselessness and powerlessness of decontextualised (western) feminist knowledges,
the appealingly domestic local feminisms discussed in Czech referred specifically to
Czech conditions and lifestyles, and imagined a role for feminism that was nurturing
and life-sustaining. These feminisms, however, appeared to invoke and reinterpret a
small sample of western maternalist feminism, rewriting and redeploying them in a
language suitable for Czech audiences. These localised texts were necessarily inchoate
and utopian; they frequently posed questions about how the social, cultural, political
and gender order ought to be remade after state socialism, without always articulating
how such fundamental transformations were to be undertaken or what the outcome of
such changes would be. Frequently they ascribed an almost sacred mission to women
while suggesting that men had little to offer society except to encourage women and
to acknowledge their own ineptitude and ill-preparedness for freedom.
The texts discussed here were written by intellectuals who were brave enough to
call themselves feminists within a context where feminists were regarded with suspicion, as being strange, frivolous, dangerously joyless or even man-hating. Feminism
was also associated with the state’s projects to introduce gender equality by force between 1948 and 1989. Such projects were widely regarded as failures.12 According to
Havelková, the former regime succeeded only in producing a ‘burden of ideological
anti-emancipation’,13 a ‘backlash against affirmative action and deep scepticism about
ideas of liberation’.14 While Czechoslovak women represented almost 46 per cent of
the total full-time labour force by 1989, the numerous and frequently conflicting public
and private roles fulfilled by working women who also ran households, were ‘ignored
but assumed’ by a system that failed to facilitate discussion about just how much had
come to be expected of women by nature of their sex.15 State socialist ideology neither
brought men into the household nor encouraged them to accept family responsibility, to
parent or to care for anyone other than themselves. In popular imagination, according
to feminist intellectuals, the most prevalent and tangible expressions of what socialism
brought women included varicose veins, chronic ill health and early death. According to them, women experienced the state socialist gender equality project as harsh,
hypocritical and grossly inefficient. It imposed a form of collective female drudgery
while failing to provide individual autonomy or freedom of choice for women. Within
this context of deeply held, strongly negative preconceptions towards ‘feminism’ and
feminists, Czech feminist intellectuals localised, domesticated and remade maternalist
feminisms for their own purposes.16
In a range of ways, feminist intellectuals in Prague accepted the claim that was
commonly held in central Europe throughout the 1990s that state socialism was a form
of foreign domination by an alien power that was ‘contrary to nature’, in that it treated
two entirely different sexes as if they were ‘the same’.17 Czech feminists, like other
feminists in the region, hailed the end of state socialism as a restoration of the natural

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order, in which ‘women’s values’ and the ‘natural’ role of women as nurturer held a
crucial place. However, Czech feminist intellectuals also asserted strong views about
the public roles that they claimed women must perform. The problematic definition of
sexual difference offered by some Czech feminist intellectuals assumed that ‘strong
women’ could chasten a society contaminated by irresponsible men.
Diverse and overlapping conversations about feminism in Prague frequently
sought to find an alternative to what American feminist philosopher Drucilla Cornell has called a ‘grit your teeth and bear it’ brand of equality.18 Feminist intellectuals
argued that feminism during state socialism had overburdened and exhausted women
by their own omni-competence (at home, at work and wherever else they happened to
be) and defeminised them (through extreme over-work). Feminism for a post-socialist
age must therefore offer some promise of differentiated female subjectivity, individualised opportunity and autonomy in place of merely formal or procedural guarantees
of equality. Consequently many of the feminist intellectuals discussed here accepted
that women are by nature different from men and insisted that Czech feminism must
herald a return of ‘womanly’ values and cultures.
From the perspective of Czech feminist intellectuals, the relative absence of
women and women’s input into Czech politics after 1989 was the most significant
issue facing women. A defining characteristic of Czech feminisms compared with
other central European feminisms is the persistent efforts that Czech feminists have
taken to unearth, examine and challenge Czech women’s apparent indifference to formal politics. The texts discussed here show an acute sensitivity to the masculinism of
the new societies being formed around Czech women, and examine how within the
context of political and legislative chaos, successive Czech governments have shown
little interest in concerted action to remedy gender inequalities or address women’s
issues.
Prague’s feminist intellectuals lamented the fact that Czech women continued to
have little time for political activity, public spiritedness or even a realistic assessment
of their life options. They encouraged women to become aware of the possibilities
available to them as individuals, and highlighted the potential difference that women
collectively could make in a context that was bigger than their own nuclear families.
Feminist intellectuals noted that the strategy of most Czech women during the transition
from state socialism to a market-based economy was to maintain and improve their
position in the labour market without reducing their primary role in the family.
Throughout the 1990s, Czech women constituted 44 per cent of the labour market
because most households needed two full-time incomes to retain a reasonable standard of living during a period of overwhelming economic uncertainty. Women in the
Czech Republic earn approximately 70 per cent of men’s wages for the same work.
Women have different occupations from men, and their jobs are at lower levels within
occupations. While Czech women are over-represented in clerical, service and teaching
sectors, they also constitute 54 per cent of professionals, 50 per cent of physicians and
60 per cent of dentists. By the end of the 1990s, women ran more than 80 per cent of
the country’s NGOs.
Prague, situated further west than Vienna geographically, is the political and cultural capital of a secular, inchoate democracy that is culturally and geo-politically
orientated towards western Europe. The bitter conflicts surrounding reproductive freedom experienced in newly re-Catholicised neighbouring Slovakia, Poland, former East

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Germany, Croatia and Serbia have been avoided there. The centrality of the role of
women in the creation and making of the democratic Czechoslovak First Republic
of the inter-war period, as well as the sustained tradition of political dissent that included women during the long years of state socialism have become important cultural
symbols of tolerance and of women’s entitlement to be taken seriously. Following the
‘Velvet Revolution’ of 1989, remembered as smooth, gentle and joyful, and the ‘Velvet Divorce’ which saw the amicable division of former Czechoslovakia in 1993 into
the Czech and Slovak Republics, ethnic strife and public violence against women in
a largely mono-ethnic nation has been avoided. Although persisting xenophobic and
racist attitudes and practices continue to be enacted against Roma, it is difficult to
argue that women have been singled out. The standard of living in the Czech Republic
is among the highest in central Europe and a welfare safety net remains firmly in place.
Like neighbouring Slovenia, often referred to as ‘the Sweden of the south’, successive
Czech governments since 1989 have continued to spend more as a share of GDP than
other central European countries on social programmes and welfare prevision. Generous entitlements mean that women who choose to be parents can at least theoretically
stay at home for the first four years of the life of their child.
However, the absence of part-time work, the limited availability of quality formal
state-sponsored childcare for children under the age of five and the expectation that
women alone would perform the majority of parenting and domestic work, has meant
that Czech women with children experience enormous difficulty in attaining a reasonable work–life balance. Although there is not, and has never been, any serious religious
threat to women’s reproductive freedom, many Czech women have decided not to have
children or to limit their families to one child. The birth rate in the Czech Republic is
the third lowest in Europe, and although demographers have observed a baby boom
since 1995, the Czech birth rate of 1.2 per woman is unlikely to change as women give
birth later into their thirties given increasing opportunities to work and travel elsewhere
within Europe and the world. Feminist intellectuals’ choice of a vocabulary based on
maternalism and public spiritedness is therefore evocative and deliberate.
The analysis that follows examines the symbolic and practical life-giving roles
that Czech feminist intellectuals assigned both to women and feminism during the
second half of the 1990s. I contextualise the texts discussed here within a broader
Anglo-European literature of maternal feminism. Finally, I examine the ways in which
the texts of some feminist intellectuals went beyond essentialist maternalism in order to argue for a more fundamental remaking of gender identities. Arguably it was
these texts particularly that functioned as Czech feminism’s most effective manual for
promoting an awareness of gender questions, and for changing the circumstances of
women throughout the 1990s.
Giving and sustaining life: women’s role in the new order

After 1989, only those persons capable of altruistic life-sustaining action – that is,
women, argued Prague’s feminist intellectuals – were capable of reorienting the harsh
and dysfunctional masculinist socio-political scene, the domain of the ‘male principle’
that ‘burdened’ the world with a ‘militant competitive model’.19 According to the ecofeminist, Marie Haisová, in ‘schizophrenic times’, woman as ‘bearer and instigator’ of
change is called on at ‘five minutes to twelve . . . at the end of the millennium whose

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history is the result of the philosophical and political power of patriarchy, [whose rule
produced] wars, egoism, rationalism, and the desire for power and material possessions
[that] forced humanity to the edge of global ecological crisis’.20 For her part, the novelist
Alexandra Berková argued that strengthening woman’s input within public life21 would
introduce ‘some cultivation that has been absent’.22 Although ‘there is no animosity
between men and women, regardless, men are making a mess of the world’, Berková
insisted.23 Other feminists said that men’s ‘stuff-ups’ of the past and their arrogance
and insolence in the present could no longer be tolerated.24 Men had ‘shat in the bath’
for the last time, as Berková put it.25 The evidence of women’s refinement, decency,
sense of perspective, ability to communicate, sense of humour, in short, their life-giving
and life-sustaining potential was incontrovertible, these writers claimed.
Assuming the language of labour and renewal, many of the writers discussed
here claimed that women’s role in contemporary society should be to provoke society
to improve. According to novelist Eva Hauserová, for example, feminism should contribute to ‘a renaissance of firm human relationships, value for human life . . . and
local community unity’, and the primary task of woman must be to ‘become the
spine and glue of social community’.26 A return to a future built on human decency,
they argued, was not possible within a context typified by ‘unconstrained misogyny’,
‘blind anti-feminist prejudice’,27 ‘unlimited sexism’, and the ‘ostentatious refusal of
feminism’.28
Feminist maternalist language identified Czech woman as the ‘bearer and instigator’ of change for the post-communist age. By insisting that women had remained
distant from, and uninvolved in, the mendacious public sphere of state socialism to an
extent that men had been unable, feminists argued that women were uniquely placed
after 1989 to enter the slowly emerging pluralistic public sphere from a position that
was less morally compromised and with experiences that were less toxic. By emphasising particular female abilities stemming from women’s specific familial competencies
and experiences derived from within the relative sanctuary of the private sphere during
state socialism, Czech feminist intellectuals asserted both the importance of women’s
sexual difference from men and the need for female public participation in terms of the
specific contribution that women could make to society.
Havelková argued that women do not belong to the public world ‘only to be delicate’ or to contribute ‘nondescript women’s elements . . . they belong there because,
on the basis of their different social and civic experience, they possess specific competencies’.29 Women, she claimed, come into the public world with a different set of
values, life experiences, perspectives, modes of communication and an entirely dissimilar capacity for moral reflection. According to Havelková, influenced by the Italian
woman philosophers of the Diotima who claim that women must play a role as caretaker provider/mediator in a dangerous and inhospitable world 30 and the notion of
‘affidamento’, (meaning ‘trust’), ‘woman’s dignity stems from the fact, not that I am
“equal” to man, but that I am a woman and I know what I am and what I can contribute
“as a woman”’.31
Havelková noted that positive invocations of feminism ‘seep’ into the popular
imagination wherever feminism could be seen to contribute to social freedom by
bringing about incremental change or providing practical solutions to concrete problems.32 The most popular and mainstream feminist initiatives in the Czech context
in the 1990s were those that were ‘action oriented’, and seen to ‘reflect women’s

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attitudes to societal problems’.33 Among such programmes, initiatives aimed at creating ecologically sustainable communities such as Pražké matky (Prague Mothers) continued throughout the 1990s to demand a cleaner and greener environment on the basis
that ‘the freedom of citizens in democratic society included the freedom to live healthier
lives’.34
Practical solutions addressed the environmental devastation that is widely seen as
the result of forty years of state socialist rule. As writers both inside and outside of
the Czech context have shown, ecological awareness and mass ecological movements
supported by both men and women survived the fall of state socialism,35 and after
1989 these movements played an important role in popularising a dissident vernacular
of moral and existential crisis among a broad cross-section of the population. Just as
dissident samizdat writing had targeted the ills of the socialist system with a broad
brush prior to 1989, after the revolution, a range of feminist intellectuals also began to
paint similarly thick lines when criticising all that was wrong with ‘post-communist
society’.
This sustained environmental concern provided the background for the emergence
of eco-feminism in the Czech context. By seeking to link ‘the lot of women with the
destiny of the earth’,36 those Czech intellectuals interested in eco-feminisms juxtaposed
images of crisis brought about by the deformation of human relationships tainted by a
masculinist ‘military Bolshevik spirit’, against visions of ‘harmony’ and ‘societal harmonisation’.37 Ecological activist Maria Haisová, co-founder of several eco-feminist
organisations including the Klub žen Zeleného kruhu (Club of Women of the Green
Circle) and a founding member of Nova Humanita (New Humanity), describes these
organisations as being ‘concerned with new forms of interpersonal communication in
the sphere of environmental protection, education and revival’. Haisová argued that the
shared aim of ecological movements and feminism should be to ‘highlight women’s
values and give them societal priority’, in order to tip the balance towards a ‘complete’
or ‘whole’ ‘humanity in harmony’, within a ‘more sensitive and just world’. In 1995,
Green Circle convened Women in Politics, an international conference to increase
the involvement of woman as (female) citizens, and ‘promote confidence and bravery
among women’. According to Haisová, woman’s presence is badly needed in the public
sphere precisely because women possess the ability to give life, as well as the capacity
for intuition, care of the others, cooperation, mutuality, understanding, love, and love
of nature, flowers, animals, beauty and harmony.38
Like Haisová, the novelist and eco-feminist Alexandra Berková said that she
founded New Humanity in 1990 in order to overcome the ‘bloated masculinity’39 and
‘militaristic ways of thinking’ that she claims were rife in her country.40 To this end,
she organised educational, leadership and supportive training seminars for women.
Her seminar, Cinderella after the Wedding, for example, aimed to expose what she
called ‘the pure European scam’ of societal fairy tales that presupposed that women’s
happiness should be linked to men’s.41 Berková argued that myths about obedient
and passive girls who were supposed to wait for their prince ought to be discarded
by assertive women who take control of their own lives. The organisation’s emphasis
on ‘assertiveness training for women’ and ‘personality consolidation’ were intended
to enable women to become ‘dignified, level-headed . . . and stable’ beings in the
political as well as familial arenas. Berková’s goal was to pursue all possible means

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of ‘establishing harmony in the world’ and to counterbalance worldwide ‘army-like
subordination . . . relationships of dominance and submission which always entail a
certain degree of abuse’.42 ‘Even men will feel relieved when they come to accept
women as equal partners’, she said.43
In the process of reinscribing shared collective narratives about ‘gender solidarity’ (by which feminists refer to Czech men and women working ceaselessly together
for common goals since time immemorial), ‘partnership’ and ‘cooperation’ (through
which it is imagined that freedom, equality and fraternity would result from consensus
rather than a power struggle between the sexes), Haisová and Berková opened the door
to some important gendered critiques of contemporary society. Haisová depicted contemporary life in the Czech Republic as ‘harsh and rude’, compared with more desirable
environments that are ‘soft, cosy and hospitable, a substitute home – the women’s organism – the inner world’. The future was dependent upon women adequately solving
the question of ‘how we are going to get on together’, in a social and political context
threatened by ‘power hungry, hierarchical and competitive struggle’ between men in
politics, Haisová argued. Emerging capitalism, ‘the cult of over-satiated stomachs, the
deity of consumer society’, merely contributed to ‘a labyrinth of haste to escape from
each other’, rather than any form of inter-connectedness between women and men,
she said. This situation would neither free women of their domestic constraints nor
facilitate social regeneration by allowing women to contribute to the public world to
the extent that they should.
According to Berková and Haisová, by strengthening ‘women’s values’ as ‘selfsufficient individuals’, rather than as the objects of male desire and exploitation, women
could cease behaving as Stakhanovites44 who ‘can take on everything’. The widely
detested memory of state-socialism’s superwomen, who worked full-time and then
came home to more work and who in the process became ‘overworked, exhausted, illhumoured, irritable and nervous’, could, once rested, re-emerge ‘loving and contented’.
This would mean that women could ‘stop behaving like a Christmas carp quietly
accepting their lot put on them by men, tradition, history and even by themselves’,
claimed Haisová.45 Remaking women to seize their opportunity to improve the quality
of everyday life through public-spirited action, feminist intellectuals suggested, was less
complicated than restraining masculinity, which would be like ‘trying to put toothpaste
back into the tube’.46
Consciously reappropriating the language of humanism and democracy used by
feminists and intellectuals of the inter-war Czechoslovak First Republic, the feminist
intellectuals of the 1990s seem to have premised their arguments in terms of what
women might provide for society rather than what society could do for them. Arguments
in favour of the increased participation of women in all spheres of public life were
frequently based on the notion that women were ‘better qualified’ than men to create
social policy, including family law, and legislate on education, child welfare, child
care, maternity benefits and ecological matters. According to Hauserová, women, as
the inherently more morally scrupulous of the sexes, possess the innate ability to ‘soften’
or ‘clean up’ the otherwise putrid political scene and thus improve the nation’s overall
political culture.47 Women’s proclivity for care, tolerance for the opinions of others,
and reluctance to be drawn into direct confrontation, was expected to yield a more
consensual politics to the advantage of all. The positive capacities attributed to women
were many. Olga Sommerová, for example, argued that ‘woman is a different animal

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to man and therefore she has a different value hierarchy . . . much richer, more real and
lively’.48
The call by feminists for ‘womanly’ women to consolidate the fledgling Czech
democracy is of course predicated on the knowledge that women are painfully absent
from the public world. Sommerová noted that in the political realm there is a ‘tragic
absence of real women . . . [and that] really womanly thinking . . . does not exist’.49 For
many intellectuals, including former dissident Mirek Vodrážka, the brave new world
of ‘masculinist institutions’ and ‘planetary manhood’50 (by which he meant the global
phenomena of the over-representation of men in the public world) is capable of little
except the ‘continuation of the half-light of post-totalitarian discursive practices’.51
Vodrážka insisted that what arrived after 1989 looked more like a ‘pre-feminist arena’,
where a ‘post-November reticence to feminism’, disguised a ‘radical . . . fear of existential change’. He claimed that ‘the borders of Czech society are surrounded by
a barbed wire fence of gender identity, guarded by internal, secret, “gender/genital”
police’, who excluded women precisely because they were women.52
In opening a discussion about these problems throughout the 1990s, Czech feminist
intellectuals hoped to change the way Czech society viewed women and their social
roles as well as to change women’s perceptions of themselves. In 1998, they formalised
this commitment by founding a Department of Gender Studies in the Philosophy Faculty
of Charles University (later moved to the Humanities Faculty). In 2001, a National
Contact Centre for Women in Science (and academia) was founded in the Sociology
Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences that aimed to encourage and promote
women in the sciences and academia.53
The enthusiasm of Czech feminist intellectuals for practical initiatives in the 1990s
has continued into the twenty-first century. Among these initiatives, some of the most
important included the creation of Forum 50%, an NGO established in 2004 to involve women in political decision making through proactive advocacy and legislative
change. Initiated by the Foundation for Gender Studies, Hlas ženám! (Give Women
Voice!) provided support to female candidates entering politics, and Hlı́dacı́ fena (literally Watchbitch), an independent project aimed at finding capable female politicians
at local, regional and national levels, in order to ‘heal’ the Czech political scene.54 The
Foundation for Gender Studies produces and distributes Gender Information Packages
intended to encourage the Czech media to depict women in a less stereotypical and
less sexist manner. The foundation also works with corporations that encourage fair
treatment of female employees and annually rewards those companies with the best
equal opportunities record through their project, All About Equality with Companies.
It also runs a range of education and training projects aimed at the ‘gender sensitisation
of teachers’ in universities and schools.55 Working alongside numerous NGOs, the
Foundation for Gender Studies and women from a diverse range of educational, occupational backgrounds and ages who support its activities, have come to exert tangible
influence within Czech society.
Deriding the rule of men, making the future female

A literature of women’s ‘scathing critique of man’s arrogance in societal and world
dimensions’ flourished in Prague in the lead up to the millennium.56 According to
Mirka Holubová, for example, portents of global disaster, war, violence, bickering,

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nastiness, uncouth behaviour, human indifference and spiritual impoverishment were
directly attributable to the rule of men.57 Within the context of the transition, widespread
criticisms of ‘general chaos’ which included but was not limited to environmental
degradation, social crisis and financial mismanagement,58 led many intellectuals such
as Hauserová to claim ‘that it was necessary to do something about the dominance of
men’.59 ‘A lot of us are under the impression that where there is not a recognition of
the need to care for others, we are really at an end’, Jonssonová and others insisted.60
‘Masculinity’, read as an obsession with competition, ambition, profit, victory,
mastery, domination and authoritarianism, came to be associated with the loss of ‘softness’ and the inability of men to orient themselves towards emotion and human interconnectedness. Men had forgotten the ‘feminine’ or communitarian aspects of their
personalities, talents, endowments and predispositions, and lacked the the ability to
help each other, feminist intellectuals argued. Under the ‘technocratic’61 rule of men,
Hauserová claimed, ‘the political scene in which decisions are made . . . is often reminiscent of an arena of ambitious roosters, with inflated egos whose priority is power,
profit and social privilege, who automatically expect reverence for these values from
the rest of the population’.62
More broadly, men’s ‘militant and competitive model’ and ‘men’s worlds’ came
to be perceived as engendering a dysfunctional human condition in which both women
and men suffer.63 Czech feminist intellectuals loudly criticised ‘men’s values’ as having
produced a ‘dreadfully inhuman’ and uninhabitable environment.64 Employing military
metaphors, Alexandra Berková stated, ‘the world as we know it, full of aggression and
dirt, cosy as an army barracks, is the result of the absence of woman’s input’.65 ‘The
world is burdened with masculinist military thinking that has been raised to the level
of a law of nature . . . Men have strengthened the fighter in themselves, and the world
is full of fighters lacking empathy’, she wrote.66
Looking to the centuries of what she perceives as having been global masculine
rule, Sommerová stated: ‘all of us in the Czech Republic, women and men, are imprisoned in patriarchal ideology . . . but we don’t know if it’s to our knees, our waist,
to our neck or up to our ears’. Within the context of ‘sick patriarchal society’, ‘men,
programmed differently biologically and psychologically . . . created negatively over
thousands of years within patriarchal culture’ lost their human dimension. Today, men’s
hierarchy of laws ‘push to the edge of importance the three spheres of life which are
in the most dire condition . . . health, education and ecology’, Sommerová claimed.67
Men’s priorities throughout ‘the transition’ came to be interpreted as having been
‘criminal’. ‘Rather than investing in the education of young Czech people, preference
was given to pouring millions into banks, bankrupt businesses and bad investments’,
sociologist Marie Čermáková vituperated.68 Not only could women not expect to do
better in a society where everything was getting worse, but men’s incompetence was
becoming dangerous. Everything from masculinist media institutions to the banking
sector in Prague came to be regarded as a ‘ritual medium of sexploitation’.69 Masculinist
forms of decision-making came to be derided contemptuously as Haisová’s rhetorical
questions illustrate:
Who led and managed the bankrupt Czech banking sector over the last ten years? Men, women? And
how does the banking sector look? Who led and managed Czech industry over the last few years?
Men, women? And how does Czech industry look? Who forms the majority of the Czech democratic

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political scene in the Senate and Parliament? What is the worldview of the Czech Republic? Who
is yearning for money, power and glory? Who is looking after the old, ill, small and helpless?70

Borrowing from Pierre Bourdieu, Vodrážka claims that the masculine will to rule and
to oppress shared by renaissance, totalitarian or neo-liberal leaders stemmed from a
‘libidinous power that, like the identity of man, is permanently in danger and permanently unstable, brittle, and weak’. Although Vodrážka agreed with female feminist
intellectuals that for too long men had disregarded to their detriment ‘the world household’, he claims that only after 1989 did ‘the crisis of politics [become] a crisis of male
identity’.71 As a former Czechoslovak dissident, Vodrážka suggested that the establishment after 1989 of neo-liberal legalised society (Gesellschaft) brought with it the
disintegration of a sense of community (Gemeinschaft) that was once glued together by
legitimacy and consensus, a kind of unitary politics of opposition to mendacious official power.72 ‘Political power’, he claims, ‘like a man’s erection, is never certain’, and
counter-revolution was always probable. The comparison of male political power with
men’s sexual potency showed the extent to which men’s grip on power was challenged.
‘Men’s cosmological sexual fear’, Vodrážka claimed, threatens to bring with it
dire political consequences. In the modern world, man’s ‘anti-human impenetrability’
and his limited understanding of the cosmos, engenders a sense of instability and
foreboding when he encounters the feminine ‘concavity’ or ‘openness’ of the ‘cosmic
vagina’. The violence that men perpetrate against women as a result of this fear is at
once physical, psychological, public, private and symbolic, and is always politically
motivated. Within the Czech context Vodrážka says, ‘anti-democratic monogender
Machievellians’, within a system of ‘erect technocratism’73 maintain an inherently nonpluralist system of virile ‘hard politics’ that conspires to repress a potential transition
to androgynous, chaotic ‘soft-politics’, a world ‘made feminine’.74 This system also
conspires to ‘control’ women themselves.75 ‘Nobody has a greater right to be dubious
about democracy than a woman’, Vodrážka states.
Feminist intellectuals highlighted not only the deficits and dangers of male rule,
but they also claimed for feminism an important role in the regeneration of masculinity
itself. By drawing attention to the ways in which ‘the authority of men was badly shaken’
during state socialism, psychologist Šárka Gjuričová insisted that ‘it is important to
return a certain traditional dignity to fathers’.76 Men’s estrangement from the family
after 1989 was seen as the flip side of the coin of men’s overbearing and dangerous
presence in the public world. Even student feminist proponents of a crisis in masculinity,
such as Iva Šmı́dová, encouraged men to ‘change their ideas about life priorities, family
relationships and intimacy’ in the direction of ‘active fatherhood’.77 In stark contrast
to state socialism’s defective, mutant male, feminist intellectuals claimed that sensitive
‘Nový muž’ (New Man) wanted to fully realise and experience personal emotional
feeling, to participate in creating a home and fulfilling household duties, and to be
involved in caring for and rearing his children.
Initially careful not to suggest that men’s renewed commitment to the family
might finally redistribute parental and household responsibility more equitably so that
women might one day enter the public world as easily as men, some brave proponents
of the new man ideal such as Hauserová also suggested men may also wish to cease
standing in the way of the life ambitions of their partners.78 Arguing that the positive
influence of feminism on men in the United States contributed to the ways in which

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American men value family life, Czech writers described participatory fatherhood as
the personification of positive qualities such as altruism, patience and love. Within
the context of this new mode of parental masculinity, ‘manly strength is not directed
towards self-promotion, victory or rule over others, and they don’t see the world as
containing a group of objects to be manipulated’, Šmı́dová claimed.79
The means by which feminists made their appeal for men to take an interest in
their families for the public good differed immensely. Berková argued that a baby ‘from
the very first days needs to feel the certainty of a father’s embrace, the beat of his heart
and the scent of his skin’. Less sentimentally, Šmı́dová condemned the Czech ‘society
without fathers’ as threatening to lead to human extinction.80 Frequently generous in
their estimation of Czech men, most feminist intellectuals seemed to agree that only
within the context of the ‘totalitarian past’ could the denial of men’s self-realisation
in the family have become so insidious. According to Berková, the absence of men
in families was oppressive: ‘But where is the classic father? He’s not in the workshop
behind the chalupa [weekend holiday house], he’s not in the field . . . he’s away. And
it doesn’t matter if he’s an arrogant macho or a friendly, decent bloke. Either way, at
home his input is missing’.81
While their appeal is conservative, the call to remake masculine gender identities
was brave, in that it contested widespread assumptions that a nostalgic return to a
patriarchal or traditional model of nurturing mothers and strong but absent fathers was
desirable. The contemporary crisis of Czech gender relations, feminist intellectuals
argued, required that parents ask ‘how shall we as human beings best take care of
our children?’ rather than ascribe biologically determined parental roles to men and
women. The ‘men’s crisis’, that feminists noted was simultaneously glaringly apparent
but inadequately reflected upon ‘contains the opportunity for change, a chance to
redefine personal values . . . about life priorities and family relationships’.82 Šmı́dová
claimed that ‘it remains a question of choice whether our hero, the embodiment of
courage and sacrifice, will be Conan the Barbarian or a good father, teacher and leader,
or neither’.83 In this monumental task, nothing less than a ‘renaissance of masculinity’,
was needed.84
By juxtaposing negative images of the neutered, sexless masculine victims of state
socialist gender politics so starkly against the sexed and embodied female life-force
of the future, feminist intellectuals strengthened their case for the need for hatching
feminist thinking in everyday life. In making their argument, feminists claimed that
men and women needed to begin to ask new questions of their gender identities in ways
that enabled both to participate equally in the lives of their families and the public world
in a manner that would not subjugate women to the damaging rule of men. And it was
feminism that should question the division of roles in the world openly and radically,
and point to the difference in power and influence of men and women in all spheres of
life.
Maternalist feminisms

Although Czech feminist intellectuals did not draw specific analogies between Czech
feminisms and maternalist feminisms in other contexts, parallels of some kind are
helpful in contextualising the Czech conversations that form the basis of this analysis.
The idea that ‘just because women had distinctive traits and alternative perceptions to

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offer, they should enter public life’, is hardly new.85 Feminists have repeatedly argued
that women have a central role to play in the transformation and regeneration of failing
societies, and that feminism itself contains within it the power of rejuvenation and the
promise of a better future.
At least since the nineteenth century, assertions about women’s unique understanding and perception of the social world have frequently formed the basis of claims about
the maternal contribution that women, childless or otherwise, could make to society.86
Frequently emphasising women’s moral superiority to men, their deeper spirituality,
and proclivity for social service and duty, many feminists speaking within a range
of different contexts have seen feminism as a weapon of social change and declared
women as the only legitimate leaders of the future order.
Among European feminisms specifically, there have been numerous examples of
the kind of thinking that has exalted women’s unique capacity to mother and to restore
failing societies. In 1885, French suffragette and internationalist Hubertine Auclert
famously called for the creation of a ‘mother state’ in which the nurturing capacities of
women could be extended to benefit all of society.87 English suffragettes too, soon after
the turn of the twentieth century, claimed that social disorder resulted from collective
male domination and masculine modes of political activity.88
From the 1980s onwards in many non state socialist countries, informed by the
peace and social movements, a renewed feminist debate about women’s practice of care
in social life once again attempted to affirm a distinctive women’s ethics and to carve out
a place for maternal thinking in the public realm. The claim that there existed a ‘maternal
praxis’,89 was premised on the belief that that the social order might be transformed
through the practice of ‘feminine values’: pacifism, nurture, connectedness and care.90
Influenced by Nancy Chodorow’s 1978 book, The Reproduction of Mothering,91 various
writers ascribed wide-ranging ‘reproductive’ functions within society to all women and
to the few men capable of maternal thinking.
For example, Carol Gilligan’s In a Different Voice, published in 1982, claimed
to ‘identify in the feminine experience and construction of social reality a distinctive
voice, recognisable in the different perspective it brings to bear on the construction and
resolution of moral problems’.92 Influenced by Gilligan’s model of women’s distinctive
cognitive and moral development, some feminists claimed that there are female traditions and practices out of which a distinctive kind of thinking developed. According to
this view, the peacefulness of daughters consolidates women’s capacity to reconcile,
empathise, to express ‘preservative love’ and to transform human life by providing an
ethical alternative to masculine aggression, militarism, destructiveness and war. Both
Sara Ruddick and Jean Bethke Elshtain, for example, argued that women’s ‘tradition of
peacefulness . . . can be strengthened and mobilised for the public good’. Both claim a
symbolic association between women and peace on the basis of either ‘maternal thinking’ or ‘maternal practice’, which each writer suggests gives rise to ‘a distinctive kind
of thinking that is incompatible with military strategy but consonant with a pacifist
commitment to non-violence’.93 Each of these examples also show how feminists from
a range of contexts have extolled the virtues of the private sphere and the need for
its extension into the public world, at the same time as legitimating women’s political
relationships to the state and community.94 Seen in this light, the range of arguments


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that are being formulated in the Czech context are less dissimilar from other feminisms
than Czech feminist intellectuals might imagine.
Implicit in a range of maternalist texts produced in other places and at other times
in the past was a sustained criticism of ‘men’s worlds’ and the limitations imposed upon
society by them. For example, Virginia Woolf, in the essay Three Guineas published
in 1938, savagely rebuked men’s imperialism, patriotism and dominance and claimed
a connection between the ideologies and practices of fascistic militarism and those
of masculinity.95 Similarly, Czech feminist intellectuals claimed that male global irresponsibility is inextricably related to men’s lack of connection with their children and
their distance from human relations. In the manner of Petra Kelly, founder and leader
of the German Green Party, or the women of the Greenham Common peace camp in
Britain in the 1980s, who contrasted a ‘male principle’ of domination and destruction
with a ‘female principle’ of cooperation and conservation,96 Czech feminists claimed
that the ‘male principle’ of world domination wrought a crisis typified by materialism,
waste, alienation, domination and ownership and that this way of existence threatens
men, women and nature.
Somewhere between Woolf’s claim that women should not surrender ‘our bird’seye view of the outside of things’97 and the more interventionist claim made by the
women of Greenham Common that ‘the future rests on women’, Czech feminist intellectuals claimed that, given the particular historical circumstances that necessitated
feminist intervention after 1989, female values could transcend the social meanings of
the male-dominated world that gives rise to them. However, the claim by Bohemian
feminist intellectuals that female midwives of a new millennium would add something
that is lacking to the public world is clearly not new, and nor is it unproblematic. Their
rhetoric about male vice and female virtue frequently overlooks the ways in which
‘female values’ can never exist outside or be unaffected by dominant ‘male-centred’
values.98 The kind of ‘sex instinct’ that Woolf identified and that essentialist critiques of
men’s worlds based on biological reductionism fostered throughout the 1980s, was also
claimed by Czech feminists, some of whom frequently accepted that an essentialised
image of masculine ‘sex instinct’ before 1989 was responsible for all the disasters of
the public world now that state socialism had evaporated.
Appealing to the essentially chivalrous conception of male–female relations in
much the same way as British suffragettes and the more moderate constitutional Czech
feminists of an earlier age, feminist intellectuals in Prague frequently criticised the
limitations of morally bankrupt and corrupting social practices of men by appealing
to the best that was in men. A feminist moral critique of male-ordered society, Czech
feminists argued, was in no way incompatible with hatching a blueprint to improve
individual men in order to better the lot of women.
Hatching fluid gender identities

Czech feminist intellectuals continually grappled with the radical difficulty implied
by the knowledge that ‘the old social roles are falling apart and we have to find our
own place in the new ones’.99 The critique of intransigent attitudes to the remaking of
gender identities undertaken by Czech feminist intellectuals has drawn into question the
‘growing unmanageability of women’s and men’s social roles’ and has highlighted the
ways in which both men and women are currently ‘swimming in gender stereotypes’.100

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Some of the most searing feminist observations of the 1990s were critical of
the ways that the rhetoric of ‘genderlessness’ outlasted state socialism and were remade after 1989. After 1989, some feminist intellectuals argued, the ‘intellectual disinterest in “the women’s question” was not dictated by the brittle ideology of one
party, but by the prevailing ideology of asomatic humanism that only perpetuated
cultural and political prejudices and stereotypes’.101 Vodrážka noted that while a conversation between feminism and postmodernism had been sustained throughout the
western world, in the 1990s in the Czech Republic, ‘the modernist view of woman
in the spirit of traditional humanism as a “universal, ahistorical and closed entity”
prevailed’.
Some Czech feminist intellectuals have been able to sidestep essentialist arguments
in favour of greater theoretical nuance. The role of feminism according to Vodrážka,
for example, is to uncover ‘immovable patriarchal gender identity as a trait that belongs to the dead’. Vodrážka contends that within what he calls a feminist ‘subversion
metamorphosis of existence . . . we [Czech feminists] can view and experience our own
process of being, our own becoming, where the stability of societal cultural construction
is bobbing unevenly, unanchored, floating as on water’.102
For the most critically engaged feminist intellectuals, the eternal presence of sexism, prostitution, the transnational sex trade in women, the undervaluation of the work
of women at home, sexual abuse and violence, discrimination in the work market, and
the massive wage disparity, were subsumed within the rhetoric of ‘gender complementarity’ between men and women, in ways that produced a kind of ‘gynaecological
diagnosis’.103 Academic Eva Véšı́nová-Kalivodová argued, for example, that the search
for ‘a real and “non-traditional” man-woman balance is futile’, and that women who
stressed their ‘harmonious standing’ with men would continue to be met with ‘absolute men’s deafness’. According to Véšı́nová-Kalivodová, not only is sexual difference
cultural and not natural, but ‘the single imaginary vision of balance between men and
women . . . whether only a principle, a stance, attitude, the group of priorities or different essences – is very, very vague, [and] this vision hasn’t been incorporated into
social reality’.104 According to sociologist Maria Čermáková, while women remain ‘indecisive, half-hearted, detached from feminism, but simultaneously dissatisfied with
the state of society’, they will be ‘only somewhat free’. ‘The refusal of feminism’ she
claims, ‘will not solve anything’.105
Feminist intellectuals have unmasked a crisis of gender relations and a role for
feminism in remaking gender identities and ideas about gender difference. In a society
where men are seen to rule politics, and women the family, the effects of the absence
of women in society and the absence of men in the family resembles ‘divided power,
detrimental to all’.106 Accordingly, feminist intellectuals argue that ‘the only possible
way to heal these sick and unjust inequalities between men and women, is through
discussion and the refusal of established clichés in public and private life’.107 Feminism
in this context has been promoted as belonging to a ‘higher state of humanity’ capable
of engendering a climate of tolerance and human decency. Women came to be imagined
as the humanitarian/civic leaders of tomorrow in the sense that ‘women see further’.108
In attempting to articulate the need to remake and draw into question gender identities,
Čermáková rightly suggested that ‘it is difficult to imagine that there is anyone but
women who will instigate interest and offer solutions’.109 Embodied, feminised women
and thoroughly remade men, the self-professed feminist midwives of the 1990s asserted,

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must play a crucial role both symbolically and in a practical sense in giving life to a
society worth living in.
This article has explored a range of conversations undertaken by Czech feminist
intellectuals and popular feminists who claim that feminism and feminist social criticism have significant roles to play in heralding a new social order in which women’s
values and cultures occupy a central place. These intellectuals employed a vocabulary
of maternalism and public spiritedness in order to provoke women and men to improve
their lives during tumultuous times. In so doing, they devised local feminisms for the
Czech context that insisted upon and then re-evaluated particular views about women’s
sexual difference from men. They also attempted to show that Czech feminists, for
all their ‘mad, crazy and original action’,110 were not anti-male, anti-family or antinatalist. They simply perceived that a future built on unresolved antipathy between the
sexes was no future at all. The 1990s saw the hatching of Czech feminisms, and the significance of this undertaking continues to provide Czech feminists today with a series
of overlapping blueprints from which to begin to critically draw into question gender
identities and to re-evaluate the condition of and potential roles for Czech ‘women’ in
the present.

Notes
I would like to thank readers at Gender & History for their helpful suggestions in the preparation of this article.
Research was undertaken as part of a doctoral programme completed at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.
Thanks especially to Barbara Caine at Monash for her generous mentoring and also to many wonderful people at
the Foundation for Gender Studies in Prague. Thanks also to the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry
(SOPHI) at the University of Sydney for enabling me to continue writing as an Honorary Research Associate
while I parent three small kids in Prague (angela.argent@arts.usyd.edu.au).
1. Pavla Jonssonová, ‘Porodı́ feministky ducha nového tisı́ciletı́?’, Lidové noviny, 29 May 1999, p. 19.
2. The notion of ‘hatching’ central to this essay is borrowed from the title of Jitka Malečková’s introduction
to an essay by the late Hungarian feminist Agnes Hochberg, ‘L’Eclosion du féminisme en Europe centrale
et de l’est: Une grande diversité de contextes’, Les Temps Modernes 593 (1997), pp. 144–7.
3. Vodrážka sometimes liked to feminise his first and last name. Women’s surnames in Czech frequently
take the genitive (ownership) form ‘ová’ in order to signify the relationship between wife and husband or
daughter and father. Vodrážka has added this ending to his name in some of his texts, presumably in order
to signify his feeling of solidarity with the women that he feels are oppressed by this convention.
4. See e.g., Eva Věšı́nová in Nad’a Macurová, ‘Backlash a osudy feminismu: Rozhovor s PhDr. Evou
Věšı́novou’, Tvar, 12 January 1995, p. 12.
5. Marie Čermáková, ‘Společné feministické: O dalšı́ch souvislostech červencového balancovánı́ Na hraně’;
Eva Věšı́nová, ‘Společné feministické: Teleiviznı́ feminismus a antifeminismus: post scriptum o militantnosti’, Tvar, 8 January 1998, pp. 10 and 11 respectively.
6. Eva Věšı́nová, ‘Feminismus? Proč ne!’, Mladý svět, 19–25 March 1993, p. 58.
7. Jaroslava Št’astná, ‘New Opportunities in the Czech Republic’, Transition: Events and Issues in the Former
Soviet Union and East Central and Southern Europe 1 (1995), pp. 24–8, 61, here p. 25.
8. See Joan W. Scott, Only Paradoxes to Offer: French Feminists and the Rights of Man (Cambridge and
London: Harvard University Press, 1996), p. 12.
9. Hana Havelková, ‘Affidamento’, in Marie Chřibková, Josef Chuchma and Eva Klimentová, Nové čtenı́
světa: Feminismus devadesátých let českýma očima (Prague: One Woman Press, 1999), p. 59.
10. Jiřina Šiklová wrote a number of changing narratives about the experiences of women who experienced
state socialism. She is widely regarded today in her own country as the grandmother of Czech feminism.
However, her strongly emotional response to ‘western feminism’ based on ‘Czech women’s experience’
(singular) has meant that her texts are controversial outside Prague. For a discussion of Šiklová’s texts
see Angela Argent, ‘Post-Communism and “Women’s Experience”?’, in Robin L. Teske and Mary Ann
Tetreault (eds), Feminist Approaches to Social Movements: Community and Power, vol. 2: Partial Truths
and the Politics of Community (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2003), pp. 35–66.

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11. Hana Havelková, ‘Uniting Many Sisters: A Regional Look at Gender Politics Reveals a Common Paradox’,
Transitions: Changes in Post-Communist Societies 5 (1998), pp. 94–5.
12. Mirek Vodrážka, in Martina Couflová, ‘Feminista: Mirek Vodrážka’, Reflex, 29 April 1997, pp. 36–7.
13. Havelková, ‘Affidamento’, pp. 46–64, here p. 53.
14. Hana Havelková, ‘Transitory and Persistent Differences: Feminism East and West’, in Joan W. Scott, Cora
Kaplan and Debra Keates (eds), Transitions, Environments, Translations: Feminisms in International
Politics (New York: Routledge, 1997), pp. 56–62, here p. 61.
15. Havelková distinguishes between the ‘dynamic emancipatory’ 1950s and 1960s, and the ‘period of stagnation and adaptation’ that came in the aftermath of the Warsaw Pact invasion of 1968. According to
Havelková, while during the 1950s and early 1960s ‘women achieved the same educational level as men
and were able to test their abilities at work and in public life’, after this time ‘despite a general improvement
of women’s social status, their individual options in arranging their life was reduced to a minimum’. Hana
Havelková, ‘“Patriarchy” in Czech Society’, Hypatia 8.4 (1993), pp. 89–96.
16. E.g., Václav Havel, at the time a playwright and later president, wrote in the late 1980s that to him,
feminism seemed simply ‘dada’. Václav Havel, ‘An Anatomy of Reticence’, Living in Truth: Twenty-Two
Essays Published on the Occasion of the Award of the Erasmus Prize to Václav Havel, tr. E. Kohák
(London: Faber and Faber, 1987), pp. 164–95.
17. Katherine Verdery, ‘From Parent-State to Family Patriarchs: Gender and Nation in Contemporary Eastern
Europe’, East European Politics and Societies 8 (1994), pp. 225–55, here p. 253.
18. Drucilla Cornell, At the Heart of Freedom: Feminism, Sex and Equality (Princeton: Princeton University
Press, 1998), p. 78.
19. Alexandra Berková, in Jana Komárková, ‘Feminismus nenı́ boj’, Večernı́k Praha, 14 March 1997,
pp. 12–13.
20. Marie Haisová, ‘Quo vadis, Marie?’, in Chřibková et al. (eds), Nové čtenı́ světa, pp. 13, 25.
21. Berková in Komárková, ‘Feminismus nenı́ boj’, pp. 12–13.
22. Monika, Kuncová, ‘Feministky’, Magazı́n práva, 16 May 1998, pp. 10–12.
23. Alexandra Berková, in Radovan Stránský, ‘Feminismus: ženská msta, české feministky čekajı́, kdy je
ostatnı́ začnou brát vážně’, Reflex, 27 December 1993, p. 31.
24. Havelková, ‘Affidamento’, p. 54.
25. Quoted in Kuncová, ‘Feministky’, pp. 10–12.
26. Eva Hauserová, ‘Jsem pro zrušenı́ pojmu ’mužnost’, Revue Prostor 45–6 (2000), p. 82.
27. Eva Věšı́nová-Kalivodová, ‘Gender životnı́ho stylu: srovnávacı́ úvaha’, in Společnost žen a mužu z aspektu
gender: Sbornı́k studiı́ vzniklých na základě semináře Sploečnost, ženy a muži z aspektu gender pořádaného
Nadacı́ Open Society Fund Praha (Prague: Open Society Fund, 1999), pp. 21–35, here p. 35.
28. Havelková, ‘Affidamento’, p. 58.
29. Hana Havelková, ‘K problému politické reprezentace a občanské zkušenosti žen’, in Společnost žen a
mužu z aspektu gender, pp. 35–41, here p. 38.
30. On the Diotima, see Giovanna Miceli Jeffries, ‘Caring and Nurturing in Italian Women’s Theory and
Fiction’, in Giovanna Miceli Jeffries (ed.), Feminine Feminists: Cultural Practices in Italy (Minneapolis:
University of Minnesota Press, 1994), pp. 87–108.
31. Havelková, ‘Affidamento’, p. 87.
32. Havelková, ‘Affidamento’, p. 87.
33. Marie Čermáková, ‘Feminismus po česku aneb Po stopách Chytré horákyně’, Lidové noviny, 29 May
1999, p. 20.
34. Libuše Ludvı́ková, ‘Prague Mothers/ Pražské matky’, in Laura Busheiken and Jana Kolczak (eds), Altos
and Sopranos: A Pocket Handbook of Women’s Organisations, tr. S. Chess, L. Busheikin and Kate Shaw
(Prague: Gender Studies Centre, 1994), pp. 84–5.
34. Haisová, ‘Quo vadis, Marie’, p. 24.
35. See Ladislav Holý, The Little Czech and the Great Czech Nation: National Identity and Post-Communist
Social Transformation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 169–72.
36. Ludvı́ková, ‘Prague Mothers’, pp. 84–5.
36. Haisová, ‘Quo vadis, Marie?’, p. 24.
37. Literary and Educational Bulletin, Library of the Foundation for Gender Studies, March 1992,
p. 3.
38. Haisová, ‘Quo vadis, Marie?’, p. 24.
39. Berková, in Stránský, ‘Feminismus: ženská msta’, p. 31.
40. Alexandra Berková, in an interview with Hana Petrová in Busheiken and Kolczak (eds), Altos and Sopranos,
pp. 78–9.

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55.
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Berková, in Busheiken and Kolczak (eds), Altos and Sopranos, pp. 78–9.
Berková, in Stránský, ‘Feminismus: ženská msta’, p. 31.
So-named for the record-breaking iconic coalminer from the Donbass in the USSR.
Haisová, ‘Quo vadis, Marie?’, p. 26. Carp, traditionally eaten at Christmas, is bought from street vendors
where it flaps around in overcrowded tubs.
Hauserová, ‘Jsem pro zrušenı́ pojmu ’mužnost’, p. 82.
Eva Hauserová, ‘Feministky ohrožujı́ pohodlı́ mužu’, Lidové noviny, 14 August 2000, pp. 1, 11.
Olga Sommerová, ‘Konec patriarchátu v Čechách?’, in Chřibková et al. (eds), Nové čtenı́ světa,
pp. 177–85, here p. 180.
Sommerová, ‘Konec patriarchátu v Čechách?’, p. 181.
Mirek Vodrážka/Mirka Vodrážková, ‘Hranice české společnosti střežı́ tajná “pohlavnı́ policie”’, in
Chřibková et al. (eds), Nové čtenı́ světa, pp. 254–60.
Mirek Vodrážka, ‘Společné feministické-ženy, feminismus a gender v české společnosti v obdobı́ 19891997 neorthodoxnı́ historická reflexe,’ Tvar, 8 January, 1998, pp. 11-13.
Vodrážka/Vodrážková, ‘Hranice české společnosti’, pp. 254–60.
The Department of Gender Studies at Charles University, <http://www.fhs.cuni.cz/gender/o
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in the Czech Republic, Working Papers 1 (Prague: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, 2006).
See Sokačová, ‘Themes and Activities’.
Lenka Sedláková, ‘Nová kniha radikálnı́ feministky Caroly Biedermannové: Opět padajı́ mužské hlavy.
Nenávist, pohrdánı́, emoce a vztek odradı́’, Dennı́ telegraf , 22 November 1995, p. 10.
Mirka Holubová, in Stránský, ‘Feminismus: ženská msta’, p. 33.
Hauserová, ‘Jsem pro zrušenı́’, pp. 80–82.
Eva Hauserová, ‘Klub žen Zeleného kruhu’, Aspekt 2 (1997), p. 289.
Pavla Jonssonová, ‘“Plastická” žena nemá problémy’, Lidové noviny, 14 February 2001, pp. 1, 10.
Alena Wagnerová, ‘České ženy na cestě od reálného socialismu k reálnému kapitalismu’, in Chřibková et
al. (eds), Nové čtenı́ světa, pp. 80–90, here p. 86.
Hauserová, ‘Klub žen Zeleného kruhu’, p. 289.
Berková, in Komárková, ‘Feminismus nenı́ boj’, pp. 12–13.
Berková, in Kuncová, ‘Feministky’, pp. 10–12.
Alexandra Berková, ‘Rodina jako depo pro muže?’, Nedělnı́ lidové noviny, 4 February 1995, p. 3.
Berková, in Kuncová, ‘Feministky’, p. 11.
Sommerová, ‘Konec patriarchátu v Čechách?’, pp. 177–85.
Marie Čermáková, ‘Vı́tězı́ individualismus: Postavenı́ žen z pohledu socioložky’, Přı́tomnost, June 2000,
pp. 11–13.
Vodrážka, ‘Společné feministické’, p. 12.
Marie Haisová, ‘Muži a ženy ve veřejném životě v České republice: Jde o diskriminaci, či o schopnosti?’,
Zemské noviny, 1 March 1999, p. 6.
Mirka Vodrážková, ‘Krize politiky jako krize pohlavnı́ mužské identity: Feministická reflexe moci a
mateřského polibku’, Babylon, 1 March 2001, p. 7.
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ekonomie, politiky, demokracie a Evropy a zrodu toku, chrematistiky, planetiky, chaokracie a A-vropy
(Prague: Votobia, 1997), p. 417.
Vodrážka, Chaokracie z nového světa, p. 326.
Vodrážková, ‘Krize politiky’, p. 7.
Vodrážka, Chaokracie z nového světa, p. 326.
Šárka Gjuričová, ‘Why We Are Not Feminists’, Context (1991), pp. 5–6.
Iva Šmı́dová, ‘Jinı́ muži’, Revue Prostor 45–6 (2000), pp. 85–8.
Hauserová, ‘Jsem pro zrušenı́’, p. 81.
Šmı́dová, ‘Jinı́ muži’, pp. 85–8.
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Alexandra Berková, ‘Klasická rodina je přežitý model starcu’, Lidové noviny, 12 August 1999,
p. 1.

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82. Šárka Gjuričová, ‘Muži v ohroženı́? Obnova mužnosti na prahu třetı́ho tisı́ciletı́: přežitek, nebo výzva?’,
Revue Prostor 45–6 (2000), pp. 88–90.
83. Šmı́dová, ‘Jinı́ muži’, pp. 85–8.
84. Gjuričová, ‘Muži v ohroženı́?’, pp. 88–90.
85. Patricia Hollas, Women in Public 1850–1900: Documents of the Victorian Women’s Movement (London:
Allen & Unwin, 1979), p. 4.
86. See Martha Vicinus, Independent Women: Work and Community for Independent Women, 1850–1920
(London: Virago, 1985).
87. See Anne Cova, ‘French Feminism and Maternity: Theories and Policies 1890–1918’, in Gisela Bock
and Pat Thane (eds), Maternity and Gender Policies: Women and the Rise of the European Welfare States
1880s–1950s (London: Routledge, 1994), pp. 119–37.
88. Sandra Stanley Holton, ‘“In Sorrowful Wrath”: Suffrage Militancy and the Romantic Feminism of Emmeline Pankhurst’, in Harold L. Smith (ed.), British Feminism in the Twentieth Century (Amherst: University
of Massachusetts Press, 1990), pp. 7–25.
89. Andrea Maihofer, ‘Care’, in Alison M. Jagger and Iris Marion Young (eds), A Companion to Feminist
Philosophy (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000), pp. 383–92.
90. Jeffries, ‘Caring and Nurturing in Italian Women’s Theory and Fiction’, pp. 87–108.
91. Nancy Chodorow, The Reproduction of Mothering: Psychoanalysis and the Sociology of Gender (Berkeley
and London: University of California Press, 1978).
92. Carol Gilligan, ‘In a Different Voice: Women’s Conceptions of Self and Morality’, in Diana Tietjens
Meyers (ed.), Feminist Social Thought: A Reader (London: Routledge, 1997), p. 550.
93. Sara Ruddick, ‘Preservative Love and Military Destruction: Some Reflections of Mothering and Peace’,
in Maggie Humm (ed.), Modern Feminisms: Political, Literary, Cultural (New York: Columbia University
Press, 1992), pp. 298–303.
94. Seth Koven and Sonya Michel ‘Mother Worlds’, in Seth Koven and Sonya Michel (eds), Mothers of a
New World: Maternalist Politics and the Origins of Welfare States (London: Routledge, 1993), pp. 1–43.
95. Virginia Woolf, Three Guineas (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1977).
96. Lynne Segal, Is the Future Female: Troubled Thoughts on Contemporary Feminism (London: Virago,
1988).
97. Woolf, Three Guineas, p. 26.
98. Segal, Is the Future Female, p. 200.
99. Elzbieta Matynia, ‘Finding a Voice: Women in Postcommunist Central Europe’, in Amrita Basu (ed.), The
Challenge of Local Feminisms: Women’s Movements in Global Perspectives (Colorado: Westview Press,
1995), pp. 374–403, here p. 388.
100. Věšı́nová, ‘Společné feministické’, pp. 10–13.
101. Vodrážka, ‘Společné feministické’, p. 12.
102. Vodrážka/Vodrážková, ‘Hranice české společnosti’, pp. 254–60.
103. Miroslav Vodrážka, ‘O české gynekologii a evropské gynekologii’, Aspekt 2 (1997), pp. 152–5.
104. Vodrážka, ‘Společné feministické’, p. 12.
105. Čermáková, ‘Feminismus po česku’, p. 20.
106. Sommerová, ‘Konec patriarchátu v Čechách?’, p. 181.
107. Sommerová, ‘Konec patriarchátu v Čechách?’, p. 178.
108. Mirka Holubová, in Stránský, ‘Feminismus: ženská msta’, pp. 30–34, here p. 33.
109. Čermáková, ‘Feminismus po česku’, p. 20.
110. Pavla Jonsson, ‘Duvody k radosti’, in Chřibková et al. (eds), Nové čtenı́ světa, pp. 32–42, here p. 41.


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