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Frauen in den ehemals sozialistischen Landern

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fr interdisziplinare

Frauenforschung

Zentrum

fr interdisziplinare

Frauenforschung

Bulletin Nr. 14

Frauen in den
ehemals sozialistischen Landern

Inhalt:
1.

Seite:
Frauen

in den ehemals

Zur sozialcn

sozialistischen

und politischen

Landern

Situation von Frauen

J. Smcjkalov (Prag): The Other Monster: "American


in the Post-Communist
World
L. Titarenko

(Minsk):

Women and Labour in Belarus

E. Gapova (Minsk): The Conflict ofValues


(The Case of Bclarus)

Frauen als Richterinnen

Mrsevie (Belgrd):

(Frankfurt/Odcr):

Gcschatsstelle des Zentrums fr interdisziplinare


Frauenforschung
der Humboldt-Universitat
zu Bcrlin
SophienstraBe 22a, 10 178 Berlin
Tel.: 30882301/302/304

Dic Entwicklung

halbjiihrlich

RedaktionsschluB:

Mitte Januar 1997

Drucki
Bindung:

Universitatsdruckerci
der HUB; Druckerei
Buchbindcrei Lehmann

Umschlaggestaltung:

Ruth Tesmar

27

to Womcu's

33

Voices:

der Erneuerung?

in Polcn
Rcalsozialismus

Die Situation

Do we need Feminism

Zcntrum

and Women's

78

Petersburger

Zcntrum

99

fr Genderproblcmatik

104
Universitat

(Zagreb): Gender Studies in Croatia

A. Nitzsche (Bcrlin): Zwischen Anpassung


Fraucn- und Genderforschung
in Vietnam

und Eigenstiindigkeit

108
112

Z. Chotkina (Moskau): Fraucn- u. Geschlechterforschung


in RuBland heute - ein Uberblick

(April und Oktobcr)

65

89

fr Gender Studies Prag

B. ChoflJj (Warschau): Gender Studies an der Warschauer


V. Radman

56

von Frauen- und Geschlechterstudicn

E. Thun (Budapest):
Studi cs in Hungary?

O. Lipowskaja:

Armut fhrt zum Verlust

Fraucn in der Mongolci: Zwischen

A. Nitzsche (Berlin): Verliererinnen


von Fraucn im landlichen Vietnam

L. Bushcikin:

und Staatsanwalunncn

Erwachsenenbildung

Bulletin U
ISSN 0947-6822

Erschcinungswcisc:

13

23

U. Sch ne (Bcrlin):
und Marktwirtschafi

Dr. Gabriclc Jahncrt


Dr. Karin Aleksander
Kerstin Rosenbusch
Dr. Susanne Baer
Dr. Jana Gohrisch
Annette Schlichtcr
Susette Wahren
Doreen Westphal

Movement

Z. Mrsevic (Belgrd):
in Serbien

E. Przybylska

Redaktion:

in Women's

16

N. A. Ncgrau (Illinois. USA): Listening


Living in Post-Commuriist Romaula

und Vertrieb:

1. Zarina (Riga): The Reproductive Behavior of Women in Latvia


During the Post-Social ist Transition

G. Radosavljevic/Z.
ziviler Freiheit

Herausgebcr

Feminism"

114

124

Zelle
M. A. Pavilionicne

(Viinius):

Autorinnenvcrzeichnis

Women's Studies in Lithuania

129
133

2.

Iniliali\'cn

in Forschung

und Lchrc - IIUB, NBL

G. Jahncrt:

Aktucllcs aus dem ZiF

SozialwissensehaIllieher

Arbcitskrcis

141

am ZiF (Arbcitsplan)

Erfassung und ErschlieBung der Archivbcstandc zur Geschichte


des Fraucnstudiums
und akademischer Karricrcvcrlaufe
... (Vw-Projckt)

143

DDR-Frauengeschichle

145

bleibl spannend

(zur OSTFEM

v)

Treffen der Koordinationsu. Frauenforschung


an

B. Kutschkc: Stratcgicn gcgcn dic asthctisch-kulturcllc


der Frau: Gender Studics in der Musikwissenschafl
Sonderprogranunc
zur Frdcrung
wisscnscharllcrinncn
an der HUB
M. Kriszio:

Ch. Felber: Sparkurs


(Bcrlin)

194

Abwertung

von Nachwuchs-

Mitarhcitcrinncn

Forschungslilcratur,

153

Janell Rcinstadtlcr

163

Lchrveranstaltungcn/Kurse

Universitat

5.

an der HUB im SS 1997

165

dcs ZiF im SS 1997

Potsdam/Lchrstuhl

173

Frauenforschung

174

Tagungcn
Tagungsankndigungen

176

Tagungsberichte:
N. Stcgmann: Neuere Forschungcn zur osteuropaischen
Fraucngcschichtc
in der Schweiz und in Deutschland (Konstanz)

180

G. Jahncrt: Historiseho
im Ost-Wcst-Vcrglcich

und intcrdisziplinare
(Warschau)

A. Hornschcidt: Communicating
Sprache und Gcschlccht (Kicl)

Frauenforschung

Gender - cin Symposium

A. Hornschcidt: Erste gcsamtnordischc


forschungskonfcrenz
(Osto)

Seminar in

199

Rczensioncn

201

1. Tornier:

203

E. Wiegand:

Fraucn-Politikcn
FrauenFilme

(von Frigga Haug)


in Ostcuropa

(von Pavla Frydlov)

204

Forschungsfnlcrung

stelle" sich vor


162 .

Ringvorlcsung

von Frauen?

149

Prof. Ingeborg Baldauf

Fraucn- u. Gcschlcchtcrstudicn

- Einsparung

Rezensionen:
A. Necf: Frauenpolitik und politisches Wirken von Frauen im
Berlin der Nachkricgszeit
19451949 (von Renatc Gcnth u.a.)

C. Pieper: Frauen ins Netz! Das Fr@uen-Info.Nelz

209

Nctwork of lntcrdisciplinary

211

Central European
4.

in der Wisscnschaft

146

7.
Neue Profcssorinncn/wiss.

191

R. UlIrich: Frauen im Theater - Internationales


Dhaka/Bangladesh

6.
K. Aleksander: Dcutsch-stcrrcichischcs
sicllen zur Frderung von Fraucnstudicn
Hochschulen

3.

1. HundlfCh. Tilel/R.-L. Winkler: Umbruch-Aufbruch-Abbruch?


Frauen in der Wissenschafl in Ruland und Deutschland hcute (Bcrlin)
136

zu

Fraucn- und Gcschlcchter-

184

188

189

Universily

Women's

Studics in Europe

213

Die Entwicklung
Zur sozialen

und politischen

Situation

von Frauen

~~---------------------..'
h
Ir't "
uoi nam qua va nhung van d dat ra
Le Thi (t 995): A/dt voi net ve buoc tten ho cua p II nu le ll/am III
.
(Einigc Gedanken zurn Fonsehrill der Frauen Vietnams in den Ictz~en z~hn Jahren und. ~,eh stell%~~
Problcmc: bersetzung der Autorin). In: I/i thao: Oanh gia su tien bo cua phu nu Vt Narn 1
/995 (Tagungsband:
Emsehatvung des Fonsehrills der Frauen Victnarns von 1985 -1995, Ubcrsetzung
der Autorin).

tes Manuskript.
Me Donald. Margaret

(1995): Women in Development:

Vietnam.

Hanoi.

Ngn hang The gioi (1995): Danh gia su ngheo doi va chin luoc (Einschatzung
bcrsctzung

der Autonn).

von Armut und St ra-

Hanoi.

N hi Quvet cua /J6 Chinh Tri s6 04/1993: Ve d 1II0i va lang cuong c6ng loe v6n dong phu nu Irong
li~h hini, nun (BesehluB des Politbros zur Erncucrung und der Moblhsle-':Jng von Frauen untcr ,de~
neuen Vcrhaltnisscn:
bcrsctt.ung der Autoriu). In: "; phil nu trong ph at trten (Fraucn 10 der Entwick
lung: bcrsctzung

der Autorin).

Nhom Phu Trach v gioi


dcr-Problcmatik

V3

in Vietnam;

1 (1993). Hanoi, S. 3 ff.

phat trin

(1994): Ta; liu ve

bcrsctzung der Autorin).

V~

d gip; o Viel Nam (Material

zur Gen-

Hanoi.

Nit sche Anja (19%): -rouen IIl1d 1//1 /;1/0.<; in Vietnam - Berilcksichtigung
frauenspeziflscher
di;r"iSS~ in der I'n'i\'enf;onsnrhcit
zwtschen Anspruch und Realitat. In: Kiem. Martm/Krausc.
(Hrsg.):

Umbrneh

Sdostasien
Tranh

ill

Sdostosien.

Hamburg.

aktucll (SOAa). November

Khanh

1994. Hamburg.

Ul'.'DP (1995): Gender and Development

BeJcns

S. 14)-15~.

19%. S. 513.

(1994): (Ohne Titelangabc).

asien aktucll. November

In: The Straits Times (26.09.1994).

Zit. in: Sdost-

S. 428.
-Briefing

Kit, Hanoi.

U)' Ban Quc Gia vi su tien b elia phu nu Vit Nam (1995): S6 liu ve Phu nu Viet Nam /985-1994
(Statistisehe Angaben ZlI Fraucn in Vietnam 1985-1994; Ubcrsetzung der Autorin). Hanoi.
Vuong Thi Hanh (1995): llot deJng CI/a lIeJi Lin 1I1ep phu nu Vit Nam vi su bnh dang va phat trie~
Fraucnumon fr Glclehberechugung
und dic En.
nu (Dic Aktivitaten der Vietnamesischen
cua p h u
.
..
h eia su ti b'
h nu Vlet
wicklung von Fraucn. bersctzlIng der Autonn). In: 1101 thao: Dan glO su, uen o cua p u -19955
Nam /985-/995
(Tagllngsband:
Einschtzung des Fortschntts der Frauen Vicmams von 198
,
(Ibcrsctzung

Eva Thun
Do we need Feminism

and Women's

Studies

in Hungary?

Hanoi. o.S.

U Thi Nham Tuvt (1996): Go va nng nghtp trong tinh hinh d6i 1II0i o Vii!t Nam (Gcndcr und
Landwinsehaft
in; ErneuerungsproLeB
in Vietnam: Ubcrsetzung der Autonn). Hanoi, unverffentheh-

rcgicn:

von Frauen- und Geschlechterstudien

--------------------------~~

der Autorin).

Hanoi. o.S.

88

Since 1989 Hungarian society has undergone fundamental changes. After the seemingly
ever lasting years of communist rule now people have been given freedom, but they
have not been given the instruction how to use it, and how to use it weil.
In the past, the overregulated and utopian treatment of society, the refusal to accept the
existence of social sciences and the hypoeriticai denial of the presence of social issues
was the omni-preserit and omnipotent poiiticai view and poiiticai praetice.
With the coming of a new system many people have ended up at the other extreme of
the scale, and they percei ve freedom as an uncontrolled chaotic world, where the only
rule is the survival of the fittest. The overwhelming
importance of the business, the
"worship" of economic wealth, the approval of selfishness and the desire to get rich as
quickly as possible leave little space and time for the discussion of social relations and
issues albeit personal, poiiticai or community related. In the present tight economic
situation of the country it is not considered to be relevant to deal with the welfare
issues and to deal with the personal and interpersonal
ei ther at the everyday or
academic or scientific level.
On the one hand we live in a society without roots, as most of our new social
institutions are based on the denial of the ways and habits of the communist era. It is
viewed as something alien, which was imposed on us against our will, and was
suffocating us with its egalitarianism and the ideals of communal values.
On the other hand there is a growing tendency to reach back to the Hungarian past
before communism and glorify and revive its outdated aristocratic values. Somehow the
path in the middie is missing, or it is very narrow and full of unexpected obstacles.
Neither the liberal nor the social ideas that have proved to be two successful ways of
establishing a stable democratically
built social system in other parts of Europe have
gained ground in Hungary. Socialliberal
ideas that have beenlare successful in many
European countries, especially in Northern Europe, do not seem to be attractive to
many people, perhaps because even mentioning the state's involvement in people's lives
gives goose bumps to most of the people who have experienced social ism.
The other European model would be the adoption of conservatism,
which has been
functioning
successfully
in most of the Western
European
countries.
Here the
traditional historicai relations with Austria and Germany could serve as possible models
of the new social system. But unfortunately
the greediness and impatience of the
"nouveau rich" who tend to take up the most aristocratic and lavish lifestyles and also
those who are in favour of nationalistic ideologies damage the image of conservatism.
Social sensitivity or having social conscience is unpopular. The classical liberal ideas are
not favoured, as they seem to show too much consideration
and respect for eternal
values like fairness, justice and equality of opportunities.
These values for many people
echo the slogans of the past in the sense that the community ideals are put befo re
individualism again.
89

Die Entwicklung

von Frauen- und Geschlechterstudien

Die Entwicklung

von Frauen- und Geschlechterstudien

~~------------------------

----------------------------~~

There exist no generally accepted clear-cut individual and social values th~t people
could live by, the rules are in the making and shaping. This makes people's hves even
more difficult when wc remember the fact that the se are the same people ~ho a ~ew
years aga were told what to do and what to thi.nk. Making your own d.ecIslOn, taking
the responsibility for your actions proves to be difficult to learn a~d pracli ce; .
This uncertain and ambiguous state of affairs IS double burden m wo men s hve~. The
survival
of the fittest-style
harsh capitalism
favours
su ch character
trans
as
aggressiveness,
loudness, competitiveness,
ruthlessness,
a~d these are not. female
values. Moreover, traditionally wo men are the mam carers In the famlhes~ which also
leaves them restricted in action. The private spheres of hfe tend to be ignered and
underrated
as a component
of the whole of the society. They are women's
responsibilities
by nature and tradition and not by choice. The inheriteq patriarchal
views of women as respectable housewives and devoted adorers of their husbands,
bearers of the next generation and bearers of cultural and family values are In their

values continued to flourish, giving women an even more restricted scope of thinking
and decision making about their own lives and bodies, careers and finances. This
situation left women almost paralysed, they were controlled by the state in their public
life and controlled by father, brother or husband in their private life while men had at
least the illusion of freedom in their private spheres.
These factors might explain why the initiatives of the women's movement and the ideas
of feminism which were actually present and were becoming rather influential in the
pre-communist
history of the country did not have the chance to survive.
In conclusion, we are dealing with several layers of past social traditions and conflicts
that have been subdued too long. They were simmering under the surface without being
talked about and resolved, and later they were coupled with newly emerged problerns
that were brought about when a new alien system was forceful1y irnposed on us. With
the downfalI of cornmunist rule the geni us of ali these conflicts may have come out of
the bottle and the people, men and wo men, do not know how to handie it.
We think it the most important task of Hungarian femmism to investigate the effects of
that schizophrenic
double value system on the individuals and find the methods of
healing and therapy.
At present the power game is in its full swing, and women are either brushed aside
gently or driven away with force from deci sion making at practically any level. The
images of wornen from the most important areas of life give us a very disappointing
picture of the status ofwomen in Hungary.

renaissance in Hungary.
.
. .
Perhaps this is also a counterreaction
to the communist value system, which In ItS
authoritarian
way did not recognise gender as a factor In the SOCIal construction
of a
society. In its legal system and in its prescriptive value system It did not recogruse any
differences between men and women, as weil as it did not recogruse national identity
and national values.
In this elimate ev en the rnention of women's issues is like a 'red rag' to the bull. The
word "feminisrn" has got an absolutely negative connotation
in Hungarian culture. It
represents some mystified threatening power, some bad influence from the West. Our
past has given us the "dowry" of emancipation of a dubi.ous kind. We do not want to
diminish the significance of such institutions as the child care leave and child care
allowance system, divorce laws that favour women, and the right to contracepuon
and
abortion and of course the right to vote. When Western women feel envious ofthese
institutions, they interpret them in their frame of reference and values and not In the
context of "double speak" and tokenism. It is difficult to even comprehend for anyone
who has been brought up and educated aceording to western values the hypocnsy and
deceitfulness
of that system, when the constitutional
rights were grant ed but the
individual rights were severely curbed. This type of emancipation
did not alter the
fundamental
issues of the power distribution,
it merely shifted power to the
incontestable
state authority, which in the last analysis was represented by men. Sin.ce
the system was primarily concerned with the public spheres, it was unable to deal with
and was only partial1y able to influence the pnvate domain, where the patnarchal v.alues
continued to prevail. We would even venture to say that there was another shift of
power within this system, since men did not have the opportututy to garn power fully In
the public life because of the omnipotent authontanan
nature of party Id.eology, they
started to exercise power in the area they still had left, that IS, In the pnvate sp here.
Consequently it was in their interest to maintain the traditional patriarchal setting of the

1. Politics and State Legislation

private sphere
.
.
Behind the facade of the communist slogans and success stones, In the underworld or
private world of families, that remained mostly uncontrolled,
the ancient patriarchal

The general view of the politicians and legislators is that there are no women's issues in
Hungary undealt with since our constitution clearly speaks about individuals without
specifying the gender, therefore women are automaticaIly included. In the Hungarian
language there is no gender differentiation
in the third person singular personal
pronoun. AIso it is very rare that the names of professions would indicate the gender of
the person. In Hungarian it is relatively easy to use gender ncutral language. Therefore,
theoretically, there is no discrimination in employment, in wages and in social benefits.
Vet the traditions of double-speak are still flourishing. The laws and regulations are not
followed through and there is no state office that would supervise the implementation of
these laws, consequently
those who do not act aceording to the laws will survive
without any punishment. Employers have the freedom to exercise their prejudices and
stereotypical thinking, when discriminating against young women, because sooner or
later they will have children and consequently
will become unreliable workers, or
against older wo men, because they are not attractive enough and wiser and less
manageable
than young women. Women have no legal grounds to fight against
discriminations such as: getting lower wages than men, dismissal because of pregnancy,
sexual harassment at the workplace, disparaging and blatant job advertisements
that are
seeking attractive young women for a variety of jobs or calls for a poetry competition,
where the basis of judgement is the applicant's photo taken in a bathing suit or naked.
Furthermore,
women are discriminated against because the family allowance is granted

90

91

Die Entwicklung
Die Entwicklung

von Frauen- und Geschlechterstudien

-8~-----------------to the husband automaticaIly. The only possible recipient o~ the family allowance is the
father; single mothers having forced to come up with a fictitious name for the father and
the child's second name. Ali these issues are almost irnpossible to contest in the present
Hungarian legal system.
. .
.
..
Unfortunately
it is in the interest of politics to keep the picture blurred or distorted m
the question of unemployment.
Statistics show that dunng the past five years the
number of women who have been made housewifes have doubled (from 23% to 45%).
We have no data, however, whether this was their own choice or the pressure ~f
circumstances,
unavailability/lack
of jobs, the husband's influence, etc. Anyway, their
leaving
the workforce
and
not appearing
in the unemployment
statistics
opportunistically
favours government policies.
..'
o
Finally, the ratio ofwomen representatlves
m the Hung~nan Parliamnt IS II Vo. And the
few women that we have in Partiament do not th mk It their pnonty to comrrut
themselves to advocacy of women's issues They have accepted the (male) ~l.es of the
game, and if they wa nt to keep their posuton they Will not risk raismg such
marginal/unimportant
issues as woi.ien's unequal status in society.
Both government
and parliament reject the Idea of setung up a ministry or even a
commission to examine the status ofwomen in the country.
Only after the CEDAW investigation'
was the Hungarian governme?t
pressured to
establish at least an office affiliated to the Ministry of La~our, which mvestigates
women's ernployment issues and discrimination agamst women m the workplace:
.
At this mo ment there is no constitutional
way for women to make their voice
powerfully
and successfully
heard in the poiiticai arena. There IS no legislative
background

for positive discrimination.

von Frauen- und Geschlechterstudien

--------------------------G)support a TV program or sports club. Charity and social activism do not belong to the
activities that make a businessman acceptable, successful and celebrated.
3. Media and Popular Culture
Hungary and the Eastern bloc countries seern to adopt more readily the negative
aspects of Western popular culture. Pornography is flourishing without any restrictions
on its distributions. There are no legal regulations who and in what circumstances
can
sell pornographic
magazines,
videos, etc. As a result they are freelyavailable,
sometimes even pushily and disturbingly overwhelm the news stands and video shops.
This is one more aspect that adds to the negative image of women as exploitable sex
objects.
lfwe look at the advertisements
the case is not better either, although now we have at
least two typ es of representation,
one is still the sex object, advertising cars, drinks,
cigarettes, perfumes, etc., the other is the housewife, who is preoccupied with cleaning
the home and feeding the family and feels extremely happy about it, and who is happy
to serve the man.
The women's magazines that have recently been published are shallow and suggest a
very restricted, very distorted image to the wornen. Their main thernes are cooking,
recipes, love stories, gossip about celebrities, cosmetics, and child raising The only
quality magazine for wo rnen, "Noszemely" has to struggle to raise the money for its
survival. !ts contents, the history of the Hungarian women's movernent, women's health
issues, women's
education,
law and politics, violence against women,
etc. are
considered to be too provocative,
revolutionary
and dangerous
which is not being
appreciated by the wider conservative audience.

2. Civic Groups and Organisations

4. Education

In the chaotic reality of present day Hungarian society in spite of the difficulties of
everyday survival, soaring inflation figures. a?d msecunty
and unpredictability
of
business and poiiticai life, there are many CIVICnunatrves with the alm of catenng for

Both theory and practice of education are stagnant and lag alarmingly behind. Although
theoreticians gene rally say that the education system of a country is a true mirror of the
society itself, this is not a valid statemerit when we want to describe the Hungarian
system Although struct ural changes are taking place the content of the education is
incredibly outdated and supposes a static society, where the gender roles, as ali the
other social roles, are given for good and unquestionable.
The schoolbooks
represent
men as the norm in every possible social situation. Women are the "supplementary
material", the helpers and the servants. The traditional job segregation is portrayed and
reproduced in the pictures of schoolbooks. The principal of the schools is always a man,
the cleaner is a wornan. The class teacher is a woman, too. The traditional activities of a
family are readily described: the woman cooks the meals, does the washing, while the
man reads the paper or watches TV. In the literature reader for the 6th grade there is
not a single women writer mentioned. The traditional beliefs that boys are better at
math and sciences go unchallenged.

those who are unable to fend for themselves.


. .
Since, characteristically,
the founders and supporters ofthese org.amsatlOns are wo men,
their efforts are hardly appreciated. Because they are women, their agen da IS deemed to
be less important, taken less seriously. They much more resem~le the underground
movements of the near past or the housewife's afternoon tea gatherings of the past p~st.
Their voices are seldom heard, not because they are not active, but because sharing
power is not in the tradition of Hungarian leadership and the I~gal system IS still not
clear about the organisations'
status and scope. of social acnvrties .. Most of the CIVIC
organisations barely survive financially. For businesses and banks 11 IS more popular to

1 CEDAW
_ UN Comrnittcc on the Elimination of Discrimination
Against Women (In the course of
CEDA W's fiflecnth scssion, from 15 January to 2 February, 1996, the following countrics were
revicwcd: Belgium. Cuba. Cyprus. Ethiopia. Iccland, Paraguay. Hungary and the Ukraine.)

92

93

Die Entwicklung

von

Frauen-

und

Die Entwicklung

Geschlechterstudien

von

Frauen-

und

Geschlechterstudien

~-----------------------------

-----------------------------~

There is no discussion arneng the tcachcrs on the different learning styles and learning
stratcgics of the two sexcs. In fact, there is very little discussion on learner aut ono my at
ali. Thc authoritarian style of teaching is still preferred.
One would hope that we are givcn the rare occasion of restructuring and rethinking the
priorities of our educational system in order to easily to include new ideas based on the
findings of new research. But when we look at the latest pedagogy literature, we are
shock ed to see that its views remained uninfluenced.
The writers (who were the
educational experts of the past era as weil) simply rephrased a little their old writings
and published them in a new shiny cover. Their bibliography rarely contains recently
published books for thcrn time seerns to have stopped at the end of70s
The seven authors of the brand ncw Hungarian National curriculum arc ali rnen. In their
work, the issue of gender is absent. Although they propo se to discuss the development
of the indivi-ual, there is no mention of the different needs of girls and boys. Also, even
in the discussion of individual development they put more emphasis on the community
values, and tcnd to underrate independence, creativity and high self-esteern
How do we dare to even think of starting a women's studies course or program in the
circumstances
described above? Where can we find the audience and the supporters?
What would it be like?
The easy and undemanding
way of starting it would be the import of ideas and
structures from the West: take the content and the experience of the Western women
and translate it into Ilungarian. Everybody can see right away that this would be a very
naive approach doomed to fail for obvious reasons. Our .experiences, our problems and
our individual and social back!irounds
are different. These differences are vividly
described by Slavenka Dragulic.
She argues that Eastern women's experience was/is
totally different from that of the "Ferninine Mystique" and liberal feminism in the US, or
from the social feminism of the UK. It is rather an experience of exhaustion, neglect,
isolation, powerlessness and sometimes ev en poverty.
We have to deal with such basic issues as women being able to recognise and realise
their own position, their own values and problems and their own needs - with issues of
identification. For many women in the state of both private and public submission this
represents an enorrnous effort and challenge. Most of them take the situation for
granted and trie to adjust, and serve and would never question the validity of the
traditional social habits. They consider feminism and the women's movernents a trap for
wornen. In their eyes the only achievement of the women's movement is that now
women are allowed to work both inside and outside the home. Vet, when they are
asked why they do not do something to change this, their typical answer is that they do
not want to look aggressive and demanding and unsatisfied and feminist in men's eyes.
Their point ofreference
remains to be the MEN.
Most of the men and women do not even question the authority of "malestream"
science and knowledge. They generally accept the rnyth that "biology is destiny". In the
discussion of social sciences as psychology and sociology, though they have been

primarily borrowed from the western hernisphere, the rarsing of the gender question, the
recent shifts in viewpoints are "rniraculously" left out. In the sociology of transition in
Eastern Central Europe the women question is not dealt with.'
There is a group of wo men, mainly college students and graduates, who get to the point
of raising the questions, but for the lack of a forum and also for the lack of vocabulary
and the lack of communication
skills they are unable to verbalise, clarify, discuss
effectively, and act on the issues. They are not exempt of the general national attitude of
pessimism, and fatalism, that there is no use trying, we will not succeed.
And there is a growing number of wornen, professionals, who have already developed
their own identity as an individual and as a feminist. They struggle for survival and
support for the unwelcome
not ion and for academic and scientific recognition
of
feminism theory and feminist viewpoints. They/we are looking for the ways how
they/wc could attract more followers and also fight the attackers, who refuse to becomc
aware of the diversity that exists arneng the various trends of ferninisms. The opposers
readily pick on the most negative attributes and label ali the feminists as neurotics,
lesbians and sexually unsatisfied rnan-haters.
The obvious method of bringing about changes in people's thinking, both men's and
women's thinking, would be consciousness-raising
and education. There are however
several obstacles right at the start:

Slavcnka
(1995)

Dragulic,

Eastern Fcminist Gocs Wcst. 2000 (Hungarian

94

litcrary monthly magazine),

vol.

1. There are no (or only very few)


Since the official sociological trends
they do not carry out surveys that
women in society. And feminists do
research. It is very unlikely that they
budgetary circumstances.

data available on which we could hang our case.


and statisticians presuppose the declared equality,
would enlighten the different status of men and
not have the financial means for doing their own
would easily get support under the present general

2. There exist no forums for educating adult people. Community groups are scarce, and
difficul! to find Continued ad ul! education is not available and there is no demand for it
because people are too busy to make money in order to survive. Self-help groups are
also rare, and looked down on, generally. The widely viewed national TV channels
struggle with financial problems themselves and opt to air western style soap operas and
talk shows instead of educational prograrns. Their simplistic philosophy is that TV is for
light entertainment,
people worry and struggle a lot during the day, and they must relax
and forget about their problems when sitting in front of the TV.
3. Another way of consciousness-raising
would be in the Hungarian circumstances if an
influential poiiticai party had women's issues on its agenda. But in the present
tense
poiiticai c1imate, it seerns to be out of the question that any of the parties would take
the risk of such an unpopular issue as women's issues.

Claire Wallace and Pamcla Abbott. An Introduction


Routlcdgc, London. 1996.

95

to Sociology: Ferrunist Perspectves.

2nd Edition.

Die Entwicklung

von Frauen- und Geschlechterstudien

~~------------------------4. Finally, establishing women's studi es programs would be an effective way to increase
arareness. They could also serve as academic centres of research on wo men. This move
however, faces its own special obstacles.
a. Traditional

thinking, especially in the humanities, is the prevailing ideology in higher


education, thus even the thought of women's studies is rejected, even without knowing
exactly what it is about. In the interpretation
of leading representatives
of higher
education, unimportant women (who are not competent enough to compete otherwise)
are threatening their castle of wisdom and knowledge by petty thoughts and ridiculous
ideas, by copycatting the western decadent world.
h. Hungarian higher education has suffered serious financial cutbacks resulting in the
elimination of departments
and dismissal of several professors.
In these financial
circumstances
there is no money for research and there is no money at ali for
experimenting
with new programs,
especially with su ch suspicious
programs
as
women's

studies.

Die Entwicklung

---------------------------~
women's studies courses are offered at three higher educational
institutions of the
country. Although they are affiliated to the English Departments of Universities they are
good enough to serve as starting points for dissemination.
Dur long-term aim is to set up aGender
Studies Program that would cross-exist and
co-exist through nine institutions and that would offer the following areas of study:
gender
role socialisation,
family and education,
media and public discourse,
communication
and language, economics and employment, body image, self-image and
healthcare,
politics and social institutions,
the philosophy
of gen der. By offering
education in our Gender Studies Program we hope to have an impact on the following
areas of social life and education:

c. In the Hungarian

system there are very few professors who would be qualified to


teach the courses. Hungarian wo men had little opportunity to study abroad. It is the
women who traditionally do the teaching work while the male professors do research,
thereby achieving higher academic qualifications. Usually, wo men professors put off the
developing of their own careers until it is too late.

d. As follows from the difficulties of getting financial support for research, the
development
of a university program faces the difficulty in developing the course
materials. There is very littie wornen's studies literature in Hungarian. It has to be
produced, and works have to be translated, making them widelyavailable
to Hungarian

readers.

e. We will have to face the problems

and difficulties of the cooperation


of several
departments.
The notions of interdisciplinary
research and team teaching are not
popular and can lead to lot of misunderstanding,
competition rather than cooperation,
which is again due to the scarce financial and research opportunities.
The widespread
"survival
game"
is generally
unfavourable
for the establishment
of anything
revolutionary, anything new.
After ali these hardships why would we venture to establish feminism in public thinking
and women's studies in academic thinking at ali? What do we hope to achieve, what do
we ho pe to gain?
In spite of ali the existing unfavourable
trends and thoughts feminism and feminist
activism are present in Hungarian society. The many ci vic organisations,
if not too
powerful today, are present and survive against ali odds. There are several women
sociologists (having a deeper insight into social movements) who have chosen it as their
mission to advocate women's issues at the academic and theoretical level. And there are
several wornen professors
at foreign language departments,
who, having gained
academic experience in the western version of women's studies, are now working on
introducing the discipline in their departments.
In this academic year several optio nal

96

von Frauen- und Geschlechterstudien

We would offer useful knowledge


of social and psychological
processes
and
strategies
for teachers,
social workers,
human resources
managers,
socially
conscious entrepreneurs.
It would supplement teacher training in a way that our graduates would gain a
sociological perspective.
We would hope to achicve recognition of gen der issues in a wider social context, in
politics, economy, education.
We would like to initiate civic education, and personal development education by
emphasising the importance of learning about health issues and life styles and the
importance of developing self-respect and self-esteem of the individuals (especially
among female students) early on in primary and secondary education.
We would like to become a base for wornen's social support systems and prospective
women's centres.
We would like to create the terminology and literature of the field in Hungarian.
We would hope to improve interdisciplinary cooperation and research.

Though the various constraints make it difficult for women working in different areas of
the academe to meet and coordinate their work, there are already signs of the will to
make ourselves heard and seen. With a lot of effo rt , we have already managed to
organise a number of meetings and conferences on women's issues. These conferences
were mainly focused on the following issues wornen's image and representation
in
society, the legal system, employment, education, the function of NGOs, women in
Hungarian
Iiterature,
Hungarian
wornen's history and the history of Hungarian
feminism.
Let me finish on a personal note. It is the second year now that I have taught women's
studies courses at two universities (Eotvos Lorand University and Karoli Gaspar
University, Budapest). It is very rewarding to see the process of transformation
in the
students' thinking, the way they begin to relate to the topics discussed on the basis of
their personal experiences, and the way they start to accept the not ion that it is not
wrong to discuss their thoughts and feelings in the classroom. The revelation that it is
possible to view the events and processes of life from a different point of view, and this

97

--,.

Die Entwicklung

'[1

von Frauen- und Geschlechterstudien

~~------------point of view fits their own experiences,


makes the students converts to women's
studi es on the spot.
Perhaps the most important knowledge that the students get is the knowledge of their
own selves. They are empowered in the real sense of the word (a word for which 1 have
not been able to find a Hungarian translation) by being enabled to recognise their own
values, and by learning how to express themselves. They are now able to identify and
act on their desires in spite of ali the criticism they get from their male "supporters"
1 have no doubt any more that we do need feminism and women's studies in Hungary.
We need it badly for the sake of the healthy minds and bodies of Hungarian wornen. We
need ferninism, which may be eclectic in its nature, because it has to fight vehemently
both for individual rights and social benefits, institutions. I would even dare to say, it
has to educate men as weil as wornen. It has to be insistent and persistent, without
spectacular
and tumultuous actions as people in Eastern Europe have developed an
allergy toward such events. It cannot afford to be eccentric and wi ld, for the same
reason, if it wants to succeed. It has to be practical and useful because women here do
not have the time and money to be too much philosophical about their lives, It has to
define and show values and lifestyles that can be easily followed and that lead out of the
world of indecision and opportunism.
Hungarian
feminism, in spite of the ali the obstacles and difficulties, is given an
enormous chance by the turbulently changing world of ours. Exactly because of the
instability
and undefined state of values and habits it can represent a shining path
forward for the Hungarian wornen. 1 ho pe we are able to use this chance well.

98

ISSN 0947-6822