Today we visited the European Solidarity museum. It was very informational, and what stuck out to me was the lack of women mentioned. Which from prior reading I know is not the full story. Women played a big role in the Solidarity movement. In the book Solidarity’s Secret, Shana Penn discusses the pivotal role of women in the Solidarity movement. She argues that women had an important role especially when male leaders were in prison. She explains through her writings how women used gender roles to their advantage. This includes hiding secret documents in their laundry machine where the police wouldn’t think to look because why would a man use a washer. They also would hide these documents under their clothing to make it appear as if they were pregnant so they wouldn’t be searched.

I’m surprised that there is a vast minority of people that do not self-identify as feminists. Which I find shocking because Poles idolize American freedom and feminism was crucial for changes made for women in the work place and the home. In our discussion today we reflected on why many Poles do not self identify as feminists. One reason being that feminism is equated to the communist era and that is considered to be anti-Polish. Penn argues that one of the motivating factors for women during the Solidarity movement was the Matka Polka, because she represents sacrifice. Essentially you do what you have to do for your family and that is what these women were aiming for. They didn’t see themselves as feminists even though personally I would identify them as feminists seeing as they did what they could with what they have as women in a time of oppression. It’s disappointing to see the lack of representation of women in the Solidarity museum, because they were a key component to why the Solidarity movement succeeded.

-Lillian F.

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