Where feminists dare. The challenge to the hetero-patriarchal and neo-conservative backlash in Italy and Poland


  • Agnieszka Bielska-Brodziak University of Silesia
  • Marlena Drapalska-Grochowicz
  • Caterina Peroni
  • Elisa Rapetti


Anti-gender movements, backlash, abortion, Black Monday, feminist strike, Non Una Di Meno, Movimientos antigénero, reacción, aborto, Lunes Negro, lucha feminista


This paper focuses on the public debate in Poland and Italy concerning the right to abortion in the contemporary rise of populist neo-conservative forces in Europe and of a global feminist movement. In both countries, the historical Catholic interference into women's reproductive rights and self-determination has been enforced by the renewed alliance of right-wing governments and pro-life groups to converge into a transnational “anti-gender war”. This represents a real backlash against women’s achievements over the last decades in terms of reproductive and sexual citizenship, which appears to be the battlefield for redefinition of western citizenship in times of global crisis. Although different genealogies, we identified a common framing of neo-conservative discourse, and of feminist claims and practices, as that of feminist strikes and social mutualism. In this perspective, we consider these practices as a normativity from below, arguing that feminist movement is addressing a new paradigm of citizenship.

Este artículo se centra en el debate público en Polonia e Italia acerca del derecho al aborto, en medio del auge de fuerzas populistas neoconservadoras en Europa y de un movimiento feminista global. En los dos países mencionados, la interferencia que se ha dado históricamente desde el catolicismo a los derechos reproductivos y la autodeterminación de las mujeres ha quedado reforzada por una renovada alianza de los gobiernos de derechas y de los grupos provida, la cual ha convergido en una “guerra antigénero” transnacional. Esto representa una reacción contra los logros de las mujeres en las últimas décadas en cuanto a ciudadanía reproductiva y sexual, que parecen ser el campo de batalla donde se redefine la ciudadanía occidental en tiempos de crisis global. Pese a las diferentes genealogías, hemos identificado un marco común del discurso neoconservador, y también de las reclamaciones y prácticas feministas, en la lucha feminista y el mutualismo social. Desde esa perspectiva, consideramos esas prácticas como una normatividad desde la base, pues argumentamos que el movimiento feminista se está ocupando de un nuevo paradigma de ciudadanía.

Available from: https://doi.org/10.35295/osls.iisl/0000-0000-0000-1156

Author Biographies

Agnieszka Bielska-Brodziak, University of Silesia

post-doctoral degree in legal sciences (Dsc.), attorney-at-law, assistant profesor at the Department of Theory and Philosophy of Law on The Faculty of Law and Administration, University of Silesia in Katowice; author of numerous publications on interpretation of law 

University of Silesia in Katowice, Faculty of Law and Administration, ul. Bankowa 11, Katowice, Poland. ORCID: 0000-0002-9926-6436, Email: agnieszka.bielska-brodziak@us.edu.pl 

Marlena Drapalska-Grochowicz

PhD candidate in the Department of Theory and Philosophy of Law in the Faculty of Law and Administration of University of Silesia in Katowice

University of Silesia in Katowice, Faculty of Law and Administration, ul. Bankowa 11, Katowice, Poland. ORCID: 0000-0002-8602-2918, Email: mdrapalska@gmail.com

Caterina Peroni

Post-doc researcher at the National Research Council and member of the scientific committee of the Master in Critical Criminology at the University of Padua. Email: caterina.peroni@irpps.cnr.it

IRPPS - CNR, via Palestro 32, 00185 Rome (Italy)

ORCID: 0000-0003-1001-0125

Elisa Rapetti


Elisa Rapetti is PhD in Methodology of Social Research and Applied Sociology and her research interests include gender discrimination, citizenship and education, learning and teaching processes. Her involvement into international development cooperation projects as consultant for several NGOs has led her to focus on how gender is intersected with ethnicity, class, age and other axis of social differentiation and discrimination. Her professional skills include designing, implementing and monitoring gender training courses. 

Address: Elisa Rapetti, vicolo Fontana, 7 - 15010 Gamalero (AL)

Email: rapetti.elisa@gmail.com


How to Cite

Bielska-Brodziak, A., Drapalska-Grochowicz, M., Peroni, C. and Rapetti, E. (2020) “Where feminists dare. The challenge to the hetero-patriarchal and neo-conservative backlash in Italy and Poland”, Oñati Socio-Legal Series, 10(1S), p. 38S–66S. Available at: https://opo.iisj.net/index.php/osls/article/view/1220 (Accessed: 2 July 2022).