08 Mar 2018

When abortion is more controversial than anti-semitism

When three activists wore "Abortion is ok" t-shirts on the cover of a magazine, it caused a nationwide scandal. When a woman wearing the logo of an anti-Semitic organization appeared on a cover feature, the magazine's publishers were praised.

Ada Petriczko
Ada Petriczko NewsMavens, Poland
Source: Codziennik Feministyczny
When abortion is more controversial than anti-semitism - NewsMavens
Covers of "WO" and "DF"

Why this story matters:

The scandal triggered by the "abortion is ok" cover (below, right) shows that although 1 in 3 Polish women have had an abortion, it is still one of the biggest taboos in the country. The feature caused many people to publicly distance themselves from feminism, claiming they may be "pro-choice" but certainly not "pro-abortion".

It is therefore all the more bewildering that another cover (below, left) caused so little controversy. A alt-right activist is portrayed in a t-shirt with the logo of an openly racist and anti-semitic movement. The accompanying article was widely acknowledged as a praise-worthy attempt at understanding "the other side".

Attempts at creating bridges between opposing factions certainly deserve applause, but it is nevertheless noteworthy that nearly all of Poland was appalled by a positive message about abortion, and did not bat an eyelid when racism and anti-semitism were in the limelight.

women's issues, media, scandal

Details from the story:

  • On February 19, "Wysokie Obcasy" (in short "WO"), the biggest and most infuential feminist magazine in the country, featured three pro-abortion activists on its cover. The women wore t-shirts that read "Abortion is ok".
  • The cover itself was an attempt at normalizing the language associated with abortion and showing that it doesn't necessarily have to be a traumatizing experience. The article followed the work of the activists, who travel across Poland and help women have pharmaceutical abortions.
  • The cover has caused an enormous scandal, even in liberal circles. People accused "WO" of using infantile esthetics that simplified the experience of abortion, of bias and a lack of strategic thinking. The government spokesperson, right-wing media, and also many women who took part in the pro-choice "Black Protests" distanced themselves from "WO". 
  • On March 6, "DF", a current affairs magazine, published by the same media outlet as "WO", released a cover on which a young nationalist wears a t-shirt with the symbol of "Falanga".
  • "Falanga"  has been the symbol of Polish alt-right groups since the 1930s. It is the official logo of "ONR" -- an organization that is openly racist and anti-semitic.
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