Nationalism Gender and the Nation Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

But help is on the way. A Belgian theologian is cited as saying: 'It is important and healthy for women, for families, for societies, that we are dealing with the return of the human male, almost from the dead'." (2007) It is interesting to note that there appears to be great fear among the Polish majority mindset that the strong role of men in their society will somehow be diminished by women also entering into a role that is modified from the present role attributed to Polish womanhood and strengthened. The media in Poland has actively and imaginatively played with the Polish nationalist party and served to drive the country back into pre-E.U. accession mindset.

The cover of Wprost in May 2004 is stated to feature a man "placed well above the woman" who is looking "proudly and sternly ahead, into the future; the woman teeth bared in a submissive smile, turns her trusting gaze up towards her mate." (Graff, 2007)

Gerber states that there are varying "terminologies and typologies" which have been used to describe how policy transfer functions. According to Gerber (2007) it has been referred to as "copying, emulation, diffusion, borrowing, learning, persuasion, coordination, and influence. Regardless of the terminology employed, all of these schemas recognize that would-be member states must adopt policy as a condition of accession or of ongoing assistance/support, and that there exists a link between the type of governance involved and the resultant means of policy transfer." (2007)

Polish Government Reluctant to Give Up Power

Gerber relates the work of Bulmer and Padgett and state that they cite the "…sex equality provision under Article 141 TEC on equal pay for equal work and associated work-related rights: "On health and safety, women's employment rights and maternity benefits, national authorities have had to adjust domestic policy in line with supranational provision. All this in a policy area where member governments have been reluctant to give up their powers" (2004: 113)." (2007)

Gerber believes that these are not social policies but instead are "instances unfair labor practices and occupational health standards that have a gendered component. The authors have indicated that this is a policy area in which national actors are loathe to cede power, yet they do not say why nor do they directly address the implicit link between gender and state sovereignty indicated by their own observations." (Gerber, 2007)

Culture and Policy Transfer: Innovation, Contention, and Rebellion

In order to understand the "innovation, contention and rebellion" surrounding the policy transfer process it is necessary to consider culture. According to Gerber "issues of national identity are germane to the transfer process because policy decisions are made in context where such identifications influence how decisions get made. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Poland." (2007)

The work of Hochstetler, Clark and Friedman (2000) hold that sovereignty claim conflict takes place in terms of:

(1) Economics;

(2) National values; and (3) Monitoring mechanisms. (Gerber, 2007)

Hochstetler, Clark and Friedman (2000) are noted as having stated that in the "bargaining process, state elites clung as tightly to social and cultural practices as to economic models or even models of military security…social and cultural values were used in conference rhetoric as masks or vessels of state power in ways that military and economic self sufficiency once were. The prominence of sovereignty rhetoric applied to values suggests that states attribute more to sovereignty than coercive power or economic independence." (2007)

The Meaning and Symbolism in the Polish National Membership & Identity

Polish citizenship according to the belief of Poles is "…an expression of Polish national membership and identity." (Gerber, 2007) This national identity is both "strongly engendered and encoded with normative expectations concerning the proper role and function of women and men in Poland." (Gerber, 2007) Nationalists desire to control such as reproduction and the family structure in order to "naturalize hierarchy both within, and beyond the family. Women become important as metaphors of the nation, hierarchy or their position within it.' (Gerber, 2007)

Of this it is stated by Graff that the narrative, and a "consoling" one is about "an orderly past, a present crisis and an imminent restoration of order in the realm of gender relations" as well Graff states that the narrative is one that is "displaced" and in regards to "collective identity: an effort to dispel, or contain, collective ambivalence and anxiety concerning European integration and globalization, and the resulting diminution of Poland's autonomy as a nation-state a mere decade and a half after this autonomy was restored." (2005)

Gerber states that gender is the one area in which the influence of the European Union is possible to resist and since gender is "so deeply implicated in nationalism, to preserve one is, in effect to preserve the other." (2007) In the transposition of soft policy of the European Union on gender equality and specifically in the national office it is stated by Gerber that the Office of the Plenipotentiary for the Equal States of Women and Men, "designated to pursuing these goals domestically was merely a "…voluntaristic gesture towards joining the EU culturally as well as economically" on the part of Poland. However, just a few months following Poland's formal accession in 2004 "the office was dissolved." (Gerber, 2007)

Gerber writes that in Poland "…development or articulation of these discourses is partially constrained or formed in the context of the EU. External pressure from the EU to transpose social policy has put pressure on national agents to conform. I argue that in fact stripping the office of real power while allowing it to endure as a symbol of compliance would not have been enough, for it was the office's existence as a symbol of Poland's accommodation of European social policy and an abandonment of the sacred terrain of national self-determination, that needed to be addressed -- not its potential for political efficacy." (2007)

Cultural and Normative Dimension

Gerber concludes that the inclusion of a cultural or normative dimension "that recognizes that not all policies are acted upon in the same ways because substance matters, will also greatly enrich our understanding of how and when states engage in sovereignty bargains, and which elements come into play in which circumstances." (2007)

The work of Balakrishnan, Richard, and Anderson (1996) entitled: "Mapping the Nation" states that gender "…cannot be analyzed outside of ethnic, national and 'race' relations; but neither can these latter phenomena be analyzed without gender." Patterns of gender, according to these authors "sometimes take the spatial units as those of class and ethnicity, nation and 'race', but often they do not. It appears from the available evidence, as if women's political activities have tended to be both more global and more local than men's as proportion of their total political activity." (Balakrishnan, Richard, and Anderson, 1996)

Women have engaged at the level of the nation "less often than men" and "commonalities in the nature of gender relations sometimes transcend national frontiers and ethnic and 'radical' specificity." (Balakrishnan, Richard, and Anderson, 1996) However, the 'personal' is stated to be 'as political as ever." (Balakrishnan, Richard, and Anderson, 1996) It is stated that the relationships "between feminism and nationalism is crucially mediated by militarianism, since men and women often, but not always, have a different relationship to war." (Balakrishnan, Richard, and Anderson, 1996)

The work of Robert Kulpa (2006) entitled: "Western Theories, Queer Possibilities, Polish Reality" asks the question of how it is that "after sixteen years of constant democratization processes in the postcommunist Poland, the country is still on the edge of a nervous breakdown?" Kulpa states that the work of Gellner 'recognizes that transitions are times of fundamental conflict, when incompatible practices oppose one another, when people project competing visions of an uncertain future." (Kulpa, 2006)

Kulpa states that the fragment renders the implication that "change, process, happening are not typical, and opposed to the everyday state of things." (2006) This is similar to times of war when the unusual is not questions because the expectation is that following the war that things will return to their norm. Kulpa relates that that which is considered to be the 'norm' is "implied and imposed on us through various ways, but most importantly in a wider social mode of perceiving, analyzing and explaining reality." (2006)

Kulpa states that in Western society that the examination of various subjects, themes and problems that Foucault "was always aiming at understanding the way people think and categorize their environment. Whether it was about sexuality, madness, punishment, or philosophy per se -- he hoped once we understand what we do and how we are in the world, then it will be possible to pursue better, happier life." (Foucault, 1998; as cited in Kulpa, 2006)

In the…

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