Women's Agency and Legacy of (Post)Socialism: Understanding Czech Women Artists' Attitudes Towards Feminism

Women's Agency and Legacy of (Post)Socialism: Understanding Czech Women Artists' Attitudes Towards Feminism

“Feminism is becoming of the most frequently used, trendy and intimidating words of the post-communist Czech language”, wrote an editor of Respekt, a popular and liberal Czech post-1989 periodical, in 19921. This quote was part of a favourable review of the first post-1989 Czech book to be classified as feminist2. At the same time, Respekt published an infamous series of articles by a prominent Czech writer, emigrant Josef Škvorecký, who in various ways downplayed and justified sexual abuse, while also criticising the political correctness of the Western university environment. This example paints an accurate picture of Czech post-1989 media, whose attitude toward gender issues was, for the most part, quite ambivalent. Publications such as Respekt, however, still served as one of the few resources introducing “Western” feminism to the local environment. The discourse of the time was further characterised by the fact that topics like feminism and women’s emancipation were discussed throughout the 1990s by journalists who had been employed by state publications before 1989; meanwhile, the rest of Respekt’s editorial staff came from dissent circles, holding a rather negative attitude towards the official socialist emancipation of women3.

The year 1989 was a major turning point for Czech society, as a result not only of the change in political order, but also of the country’s transition from a centrally planned economy to a free market. The newly established order brought about new mechanisms of institutionalising and promoting gender equality, which also became part of the agenda for emerging NGOs. In the cultural sphere, this change became apparent on an institutional level, for instance through international cooperation. Instead of other socialist countries and states of the Global South, it was predominantly the West that became the country’s new partner in cultural production. This change is evident in the program of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, which in the 1970s and 1980s presented documentary films by female filmmakers from the Global South about the social status of women in their part of the world. After 1989, the topics of gender equality, environment, pacifism and colonialism in the form of critical documentaries would no longer appear at the festival4. Similarly, the year 1990 saw the dissolution of the international association of female filmmakers called Kino Women International (KI-WI). KI-WI emerged in the late 1980s as an initiative by women from socialist countries to promote their interests internationally5. Similarly, the federal Czechoslovak Women’s Union, member of the socialist Women’s International Democratic Federation, was dissolved after 1989. The Women’s Union’s magazine Vlasta, which reported about the social status of women, and where critical debate about the future development of women’s emancipation was taking place in the late 1980s, abandoned political debates step by step, becoming a women’s lifestyle periodical. 

The debate about the forms of local feminisms, the legacy of state-socialist women’s emancipation, the change of women’s position in Czech society after the onset of neoliberalism, and the relevance and applicability of Western feminist theories in the local context, has resonated in the Czech academic milieu since the early 1990s. Dozens of both local and international studies and research projects had already begun to emerge in the 1990s, trying to analyse the (post)socialist situation. To a great extent, these activities were initiated by feminists from the “West” and were concerned with the nature and relevance of the state-socialist emancipation model. Czech female scholars, mostly sociologists and gender studies experts, were also involved in the debate6. Their views reflected to a certain extent their life experience connected with dissent, emigration, or their roles as women in a socialist society. Their experiences shaped the debate on the contribution of state-controlled socialist emancipation, which was interpreted negatively by some local female scholars after 1989; they regarded this emancipation as mere employment of women by the socialist state that led to their exploitation7. Contrary to this, women who experienced everyday life in the Western liberal democracies interpreted the results of the socialist women’s emancipation much more positively. For instance sociologist Gerlinda Šmausová or journalist Alena Wagnerová, both of whom immigrated to the Federal Republic of Germany after 1968, perceived the situation in 1970s Germany as less gender-equal compared to Czechoslovakia. What they went through in Germany was the loss of their own social status. They argued that they were forced to define themselves through the social status of their husbands and had to cope with much more conservative ideas about the role of men and women in society8.

In the 1990s, the evaluation of the state-socialist project of women’s emancipation was not just a matter of historiographical research. The central issue was whether a theory could be built upon this experience, or if one should completely embrace the “Western” feminisms that were gradually penetrating both the academic and public discourse. Feminism was then being criticized as an import from the “West”. This critique concerned not only theoretical merit, but also economic relations, insofar as many local NGOs and academic activities were sponsored by foreign feminist and other nonprofit institutions9. At the same time, in the “East vs. West” debate, local female scholars were coping with a situation that was described by sociologist Hana Havelková as the clash between “local experience without a theory” and “Western theory lacking experience” (i.e. the application of universalising categories regardless of local context)10. Despite attempts to approach the socialist legacy in a positive way, there was a perceived lack of local critical conceptual tools. As a consequence, “Western” feminist categories, notions and concepts started being used in local academic discourse as well as in feminist activism, and in the 1990s they prevailed entirely. To this day, the “Western” gender concepts have been playing the leading role in academic discourse. In more recent years, however, some female scholars have been interpreting their usage less in terms of a lack of local theoretical concepts, but rather as a result of global academia’s power imbalance. In this context, as these scholars argue, Central and Eastern Europe tends to be treated by Western scholarship as a useful source of empirical data, but not conceptual inspiration11.

The debate about the nature and legacy of state-socialist emancipation has been making a comeback in recent years, hand-in-hand with the rise of postcolonial critical theory, the critique of neoliberalism’s unequal distribution of economic resources, and neoliberal feminism12. In the domain of Visual Arts, it was the 2010 project Gender Check: Femininity and Masculinity in the Art of Eastern Europe thataimed to create a specific local narrative from a gender perspective13. Despite its ambitious rhetoric, the project did not succeed in freeing itself from the “Western” categories. As a result, the interpretation of Czech(oslovak) reality did not take into account local feminist thinking and practices before 198914, or after15. Hence one of the goals of current debates is to establish a specific narrative for the state-socialist project of women’s emancipation in the region, and local traditions of feminist critique and feminist art. According to this perspective, the socialist experience would no longer be interpreted as negative or insufficient compared to the development and “success” of the feminist theory and practice that have been taking place in the West since the 1960s16.

Year 1989 as the return of the “natural”?

The transition to neoliberal capitalism after 1989 is often interpreted as a return to what was understood as “natural” in its time – to Europe, private ownership, hierarchy between sexes and traditional gender relations17. Women lost many social and economic rights that had been guaranteed by the socialist state, and new identities started being promoted that were based on individualism, in place of the collectivist idea of women as workers and mothers. The restructuring of the labour market led to new job opportunities, but at the same time, it intensified feminisation of certain sectors, and caused job uncertainty and unemployment. These, together with the gradual closing down of preschool care facilities, further increased gender inequalities in the society18.

Despite the fact that a return of Czech women to households never took place after 1989 (also for economic reasons), this rhetoric appeared frequently on the political scene. One of the reasons was the macroeconomic strategy, developed in cooperation with the World Bank, whereby women with young children leaving the labour market was to reduce unemployment19. Another reason was the widespread perspective of their irreplaceable role in childcare, which only emphasised their position in the household20. At the time, the picture of the future development of women’s social status often imbibed even some petty bourgeois ideas of the past. According to former dissident and MP Eva Kantůrková, for instance, the ideal for women was to set up small businesses – they would have a workshop or shop in their own houses, in which their children could also learn practical life skills “without any pressure”21. Such ideas were often rhetorically accompanied by a definition of women through their “feminine” attitudes towards the world, their “feminine” qualities, or their specific relationship with children, nature and the environment. This narrative however was not just the product of the 1990s, for it had appeared in Czechoslovak discourse thirty years earlier.

In 1960s Czechoslovakia, many systemic issues were being re-evaluated that concerned political governance, the economy as well as gender policies. In the gender policy domain, the established form of women’s emancipation promoted by Czechoslovakia after 1948, was being revised. This criticism was structured mainly around the issues of the so-called triple burden of women, women’s unskilled labour, and the implementation of financial rewards for childcare. Apart from the experts, public figures from the cultural scene, as well as lay readers participated in media discussions about the future of women’s position in society.

One of the debates that addressed the differences between “Western” and local Czechoslovak feminism was unleashed with the publication of Simone de Beauvoir’s book, The Second Sex (1949), which was translated into Czech in 1966. Beauvoir was criticised for her conceptualisation of feminism that originated in the experience of a single race and class22 and, among other issues, also for her idea of social construction of gender, which later became one of the key concepts of “Western” feminism23. In opposition to Beauvoir’s sociological conditioning of “femininity”, authors such as sociologist Irena Dubská and journalist Helena Klímová preferred the idea of biological conditioning and advocated for women’s emancipation on the basis of difference.

At the same time, however, the emphasis on the role of women as mothers that Helena Klímová wrote about was criticized as a return to traditional gender roles. According to this critique, such thinking opposed the socialist emancipation of women, which was based on the idea that women’s social roles are historically constructed and therefore reversible. A similar critical discussion emerged in Czechoslovakia once again in the late 1980s, when the outcomes of the socialist emancipation project began to be more widely discussed. In addition to new issues, such as the enactment of parental leave for men, the debate also returned to the long-discussed topics of vertical segregation and the gender wage gap. Another topic that reappeared in the discussion was the critique of women’s employment in traditionally “male” professions and sectors (e.g. tractor drivers, welders), which, according to the discourse of the time, contributed to the “masculinisation” of women24.

The narrative of the loss of “femininity”, which emerged in the 1960s, persisted in Czech society even after 1989, as psychologist Kateřina Zábrodská demonstrated in her interpretation of women’s life stories narrated in the 1990s25. The question is whether these statements, regardless of whether they were from the 1960s or the years after the Velvet Revolution, should be interpreted as a conservative turn to traditional gender roles, and whether they betray a lack of critical thinking and feminism in Czech society. These positions could also be understood as a specific kind of local feminism that responds to local political, economic and social conditions26. Thus, for instance in 1992, Helena Klímová, in an attempt to articulate the Central European experience, connected her theoretical framework of promoting the “difference” of women with the thinking of Indian feminist Devaki Jain, while also referencing texts on the “Western” feminism of difference (e.g. In a Different Voice by Carol Gilligan from 1982)27.

A similar situation can be found in the discourse of the Czechoslovak art scene. One of the canonic texts on women’s art and the emancipation of women under socialism (published in Flash Art magazine in 1977), is an article titled The Soul of the Androgyneby the most important theorist of contemporary art at the time, Jindřich Chalupecký28. Chalupecký was in contact with Helena Kontová, a Czech emigrant and the editor of the magazine, and her husband Giancarlo Politi, its founder. The article, which was based on their mutual discussions, approached “Western” feminism and feminist art polemically, and on the basis of Czechoslovak experience29. Chalupecký promoted femininity, which he associated with an emotional and intuitive approach to the world. He advocated femininity not only as a principle of artistic creation but also as a path that modern civilization, founded on scientific rationality and technocracy, should adopt. In the end he called for the ideal of the androgyne, which may have originated not only from his Czechoslovak contemporaries and the Marxist theory of the “scientific-technological revolution” (which entailed the structural transformation of the human existence), but could also have been related to a similar approach that was appearing on the “Western” art scene. According to Helena Kontová, the “androgyne discussion” was very popular in “Western” discourse in the 1970s because it supported the deconstruction of patriarchal structures and their principles, and also served as an argument for the inclusion of artworks by women artists into important art collections30.

The term “female art” [ženské umění]31, which Chalupecký employed in the article, dominated the discourse of the Czech art scene until the 1990s. Even the majority of the surveys on feminism that started to appear on the pages of cultural journals at the time inquired about “femininity” and “female roles”32.These surveys have been predominantly interpreted by scholars as an advocacy of traditional gender roles, often rooted in the discourse of psychology. It was also seen as a consequence of local theoretical backwardness (consisting of the absence of social constructivist theories of gender and postmodern theory, particularly in the sphere of culture). In the 1990s art context, however, in some cases the term “female art” continued to entail its political meaning as formulated by Jindřich Chalupecký. In other cases, some women artists understood the term once again in its traditional sense, referring solely to decorative art, which was a category into which they did not want to be classified33.

Generational experiences, contradictions and discontinuities

The Secondary Archive project presents several generations of women artists — from those who began to be artistically active in the post-war period, to the generation that entered the art scene after 1989, to the currently emerging artists. If we were to look for different generational positions in their approaches, the question of identification with feminism could certainly be one of the possibilities. Simply put, the post-war generations of female artists refused to identify with feminism, and even after 1989, ambivalent attitudes towards feminism prevailed throughout the Czech art scene. Nowadays, however, identification with feminism in contemporary art practices is a fully legitimate and even favoured author’s attitude. In many interpretations, the post-war development of Czech art is presented as a journey that begins with the absence of feminist consciousness of artists, followed by its gradual acquisition after 1989, leading to the flourishing of feminist thought in recent years34. Yet, to understand the local experience it is also necessary to question what exactly identification with feminism meant in these different periods.

The cases of women identifying with certain feminist principles but refusing to define themselves as feminists are a well-described phenomenon. These decisions are made based on their identification with a self-created image of feminists and feminism. However, it is also based on their own perception of themselves in relation to this particular image, and their distinction from it35. When it comes to the generations of artists who have spent most of their lives under socialism, the term feminism referred predominantly to “Western” feminism. Since they were not much exposed to “Western” feminist theoretical concepts or “Western” artists of the time, the image of “Western” feminism was thus shaped primarily by the discourse of the socialist state. It perceived any “Western” feminist activities as a “senseless struggle between the two sexes” through which it was not possible to achieve actual structural change in society36. Feminists such as Valerie Solanas and later Andrea Dworkin were represented as “crazy, aggressive women attacking men” and served as a symbol of “Western” feminism37. Simultaneously, American feminists were also perceived as women that were weak. Their experience, as described by Betty Friedan in The Feminine Mystique (1963), was seen as constructed on the basis of individualistic middle-class problems, addressing mental, sexual and career issues from within the material well-being of the American suburbs38. This aversion towards “Western” feminism was structured along the lines of not just political, social and economic, but also cultural differences, as was demonstrated by Chiara Bonfiglioli in her analysis of the misunderstandings between “Western” feminist artists and women artists from socialist states at the international conference Comrade Woman in Belgrade in 197839.

The fact that Czech women artists did not identify with “Western” feminism during the state-socialist era does not mean that they did not hold a critical position towards gender inequality in the socialist society of their time. Their feminist thinking was based on local debates regarding the immediate position of women in society, and on their critique of specific gender policies of the socialist state. Among the most critical generations of artists were those who were active in the 1960s. Gender issues were among the most discussed topics in society. They not only referred to political reforms, including the re-establishment of the Czech Women’s Union in 1967, which demanded more power from the government to decide on the direction and form of the women’s emancipation movement, but also addressed economic and legal issues (women’s role in the Czechoslovak economy) and the problem of the so-called population crisis. Hence female artists (e.g. Eva Švankmajerová and Naděžda Plíšková) focused in their artworks primarily on the critique of the so-called “triple burden” and the objectification of the female body in visual representations, related to the sexual liberation of the late 1960s40.

In comparison with the strong generation of female artists that were active during the 1960s, who were born in the interwar period and who are the usual subjects of “Czech art history”, it would seem as if the generation of the 1980s female artists, who were born in the 1950s, almost did not exist. The question is whether this “gap” in history happened as a consequence of the art history research that was undertaken after 1989 and exclusively focused on the art of the 1960s, or whether this position is based on a real, conservative turn of the Czechoslovak art scene of the 1980s. The social discourse of the time tackled the issue of women’s emancipation with much more ambivalence. While the 1960s saw a social critique of the socialist state’s gender policies that was aimed at their reform, twenty years later the criticism was directed at the emancipation of women itself. This critique also emerged in film and literary works of the 1980s, in which dystopian visions of the future were accompanied by depictions of the cruel rule of women over the world. The objections to women’s emancipation appeared also as a part of the critique of the scientific-technological revolution, viewed as a bureaucratic, anti-ecological project of the 1960s that was not seen through to its completion41.

Thus the collective Tvrdohlaví [The Stubborn] (1987), inspired by the Italian trans-avant-garde movement and the German collective Neue Wilde, is now perceived as a prime representative of the 1980s in the history of Czech art. The collective consisted of ten men adopting the role of rebels, who were known for their macho self-presentation and statements saying a woman as an author had no place in the art world42. These macho sentiments were also a constituent part of the discourses of the 1990s, when the criticism of women’s emancipation movements, and the increasing exploitation of the female body in the public space came to be reflected in the contemporary artistic practices of male artists as well. Therefore, male-only exhibition projects were being created as an intended parody of women’s collective exhibitions, or exhibitions organized on the occasion of International Women’s Day43. At that time, the art scene began to become more receptive of “Western” feminism. However, unlike in academic circles, the art scene did not engage in the debate regarding the legacy of state-socialist emancipation of women. Feminism was perceived as something completely foreign and external, with which the Czech environment had no previous experience44.

Although the identification with “Western“ feminism was not considered as entirely negative on the Czech art scene of the 1990s, rather ambivalent attitudes towards it prevailed. The image of feminism was created mainly through media representations but it was also influenced by the more recent experiences from abroad, most importantly from the West. Czech women artists distinguished themselves from “Western” women artists by distancing themselves from the “loss of femininity” and the negation of the “mother role”. Artists Martina Reidelbauchová and Milena Dopitová, for example, recalled their experiences from New York and Boston from the first half of the 1990s, where, according to them, women on the art scene had to adjust themselves to fill traditionally male positions — the female artists attended the exhibition openings in black trouser suits and it would have been a faux pas to take one’s child to such a gathering. Feminist artists were also described as single women who sacrificed the experience of motherhood for the sake of their careers45.

The general lack of identification of Czech artists with feminism was often explained as gender blindness, concerning not only their reluctance to rhetorically subscribe to feminism but also their inability to perceive gender inequalities in society. This interpretation was based on the perspective of liberal feminism, which was dominating both foreign and Czech academia after 1989. However, the position of Czech women artists can be understood also in the context of the legacy of state-socialist women’s emancipation, as an act of distancing themselves from their perceived image of individualistic “Western” feminism. It can be read as a conscious rejection of the idea that a career as a woman artist demanded subordination to the norms of the “Western” art world and the abandoning of personal values — such as positive relationships with the family, motherhood, and the position of “femininity”, intertwined with the notion of care and sensitive relationships with others46.

By contrast, the current generation of women artists is mostly expressing their affinity with feminism. However, the question of (non)identification with feminism cannot be interpreted only through the optics of generational differences but should be tackled as a cohesive result of contemporary public discourses. As an example one can cite interviews with Milena Dopitová, born in 1963, in which she has gradually expressed a shift in her position on feminism over the past thirty years – moving from radical rejection towards acceptance. This transformation is a result of a paradigm shift that has occurred in the Czech public sphere, in which feminism has become a mainstream part of the public discourse. Unlike in the early 1990s, the pages of key print media publications are no longer occupied with as many anti-feminist sentiments. At the same time, this may not be a truthful reflection of the generally prevailing opinion in Czech society. After 1989, the Czech media respected the Czechs’ regained freedom of speech, in the sense that everyone had the right to self-expression, regardless of their message. This resulted in the frequent presence of sexist and xenophobic statements in the public discourse of the 1990s. Nowadays, it is no longer acceptable to go so far in presenting such statements in the mainstream media47. Similarly, in the case of the contemporary art scene, even the artist Jiří David from the generation of Tvrdohlaví [The Stubborn]no longer claims (as he did in the 1990s) that women artists should “return to the kitchen”. On the contrary, he presents himself as a supporter of feminism, even though this issue does not truly concern him directly, since feminism, according to David, is “a struggle of women with other women”48.

The mainstream acceptance of feminism in Czech society is proved, for example, by the creation of the commercial feminist magazine Heroine in 2019, financially supported by the media branch of the financial consulting company Partners. Unlike the Slovak-Czech feminist magazine Aspekt, which was founded in the 1990s, anchored in the academic-activist environment, and devoted to various concepts of feminist theory and practice, Heroine is more of a hipster lifestyle project targeting the urban middle class. Thus the main topics being discussed in contemporary Czech society are usually the problems of socially and culturally privileged women. The recent Czech public debate does not adopt new critical interpretative approaches and often ends up producing statements that read like clichés (such as the statement “rejecting social norms of beauty can dismantle patriarchy”)49.

When it comes to the contemporary Czech art scene, several projects have emerged in recent years that are voicing a critique of the institutional structures of the art world, such as the Mothers Artlovers activist collective or the Feminist (Art) Institution initiative. Their goal is not only to promote gender equality in areas that are traditionally addressed (such as equality in representation, wages, etc.), but also to transform the functioning of systemic structures along the lines of the ethics of care50. The Jindřich Chalupecký Society, for example, belongs among the institutions that follow this feminist code.Annually, the Society presents the Jindřich Chalupecký Award to visual artists under the age of 35. Recently, the Society has been trying to alter the structure and essence of its activity. As a result of these changes, a new format of the award has emerged — for the second year in a row, five applications were chosen as the winners of the award instead of only one (this year, together with the Björnsonova “non-collective”, there will be ten laureates of the award).

The new format of the award, accompanied by the rhetoric of “non-competition”, has sparked a debate on the art scene. This debate questions the critical potential of this format, which is still anchored in traditional institutional and economic structures. It is also noteworthy that this declared refusal to establish hierarchies among the finalists is supposed to be achieved merely by increasing the number of laureates by only a few selected artists. Similarly, another question that has arisen pertains to the critical potential of feminism in contemporary art. Unlike the generation of artists of the 1990s, contemporary authors find themselves in a situation where their feminist identity or the production of feminist art is advantageous for their careers. On the contemporary art scene, feminism has become one of the mainstream trends. In comparison with the older generation of artists whose work in the 1990s gravitated towards feminism and gender issues mostly intuitively as a response to local contexts, today the main source of inspiration and information for contemporary Czech artists is imported from the West (especially from Berlin, which is in the Czech Republic’s geographical vicinity). As a consequence, current “Western” trends are followed more systematically than in the 1990s. For example, the Xenofeminist Manifesto has often been discussed on the Czech scene recently.

However, the growing familiarity with the “West” is also associated with an increasing awareness of the postcolonial critique, which raises questions about the position and experience of the local art scene. The majority of the Czech art scene encounters information about state-socialist emancipation as well as of recent feminist theory and practice through independent individual research (which also applies to my case). The absence of an institutional background of feminism in higher art education is perhaps one of the phenomena that has not changed much since the 1990s (one of the answers that collectively characterised the statements of the Czech women artists interviewed for this project was that they had felt alone in their feminism at art schools)51. This lack of a feminist institutional framework demands further change in the long run. The memory and preservation of symbolic capital are essential for a sense of continuity. They enable us to avoid constant rediscovery and iteration, so that we may not have to reinvent the wheel every single time52.

Marianna Placáková is an art historian and curator. She studies the gendered context of artistic production in postwar Czechoslovakia. Currently, she is a member of the two-year research project Gender Politics and the Art of European Socialist States (Getty Foundation, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań).

1Josef Chuchma, Osamělá ve světě prasat. Opravdu feministický nářez Caroly B. [Lonely in the world of pigs. A really feminist cut by Carola B], Respekt, 7. 12. 1992, p. 14.
2Carola Biedermannová, Mstivá kantiléna aneb rigor magoris aneb feministický nářez [The vengeful cantilena or rigor magoris or the feminist cut], Prague, Ivo Železný, 1992.
3These were Josef Chuchma and Anastasia Kudrnová, who before 1989 worked in the magazine Mladý svět [Young World] published by Union of Socialist Youth.
4Vítězslav Sommer, Festival na rozcestí: Politika MFF Karlovy Vary mezi přestavbou a post-socialistickou transformací (rukopis) [Festival at a Crossroads: The Politics of the Karlovy Vary IFF between Reconstruction and Post-Socialist Transformation (manuscript)].
5The Czech branch of KI-WI fell under the Czechoslovak Film Institute and was represented by director Věra Chytilová. In addition to improving the position of filmmakers in local structures, the organization negotiated with the Czech Women's Union to create a women's film club Videokavárna, which was to include a hairdresser, beauty services and a boutique in addition to film screenings and refreshments. see. Dana Menčíková, KI-WI znamená pomoc [KI-WI Stands for Help], Vlasta, Vol. 42. 1988, No. 40, p. 7.
6Libora Oates-Indruchová, Tak pěkně od začátku: o vztahu sociologie a kategorie gender [So pretty from the beginning: about the relationship between sociology and the category of gender], in Libora Oates-Indruchová(ed.), “Tvrdošíjnost myšlenky. Od feministické kriminologie k teorii genderu” [Stubbornness of thought. From feminist criminology to gender theory], Prague, SLON, 2011, p. 77.
7A negative approach to the state-socialist project can be found, for example, in the argumentation of sociologist Jiřina Šiklová, who was active in dissent before 1989 and whose activist and academic position is based on criticism of the socialist regime. Jiřina Šiklová, Are Women in Central and Eastern Europe Conservative?, in: Nanette Funk, Magda Mueller (eds.), “Gender Politics and Post-Communism, Reflections from Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union”, New York, Routledge, 1993, pp. 74–83.
8Alena Köhler-Wagnerová, Die Frau im Sozialismus. Beispiel ČSSR [The woman under socialism. Example of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic], Hamburg, Hoffmann und Campe, 1974; Alena Wagnerová, Laudatio. Linda Šmausová – žena – člověk – vědkyně – přítelkyně: curriculum velice osobní [Linda Šmausová –woman – man –– scholar – friend: a very personal curriculum], in: Libora Oates-Indruchová (ed.), “Tvrdošíjnost myšlenky. Od feministické kriminologie k teorii genderu” [Stubbornness of thought. From feminist criminology to gender theory], Praha, SLON, 2011, pp. 14–20.
9Jiřina Šiklová, McDonald's, Terminators, Coca Cola Ads – and Feminism? Imports from the West, in: Tanya Renne (ed.), “Ana's Land. Sisterhood In Eastern Europe”, New York, Routledge, 1996, pp. 76–81; Jiřina Šiklová, Pár poznámek ke změnám v postavení žen v České republice po převratu v roce 1989 [A few remarks on the changes in the women's position in Czech republic after 1989] (2006), in: Alena Wagnerová, “Žena za socialismu” [The Woman under Socialism], Prague, SLON, 2017, p. 237.
10Hana Havelková, Abstract Citizenship? Women and Power in the Czech Republic, Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society, Vol. 3, 1996, No. 2–3, pp. 243–260.
11Blanka Nyklová, Krajinou současného českého feminism [The Landscape of Contemporary Czech Feminism], Gender, rovné příležitosti, výzkum [Gender, Equal Opportunities, Research], Vol. 14, 2013, No. 1, p. 60.
12Srov. Hana Havelková, Libora Oates-Indruchová (eds.), The Politics of Gender Culture under State Socialism. An Expropriated Voice, New York, Routledge 2014; Magdalena Grabowska, Beyond the „Development“ Paradigm: State Socialist Women's Activism, Transnationalism, and the „Long Sixties“, in: Barbara Molony, Jennifer Nelson (eds.), “Women's Activism and „Second Wave“ Feminism. Transnational Histories”, London – New York, Bloomsbury, 2017, pp. 147–172; Zsófia Lóránd, The Feminist Challenge to the Socialist State in Yugoslavia, London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2018; Kristen Ghodsee, Second World, Second Sex. Socialist Women's Activism and Global Solidarity during the Cold War, Durham – London, Duke University Press, 2019.
13Bojana Pejić (ed.), Gender Check, Femininity and Masculinity in the Art of Eastern Europe, Köln am Rhein, Walther König, 2010.
14Martina Pachmanová, In? Out? In Between? Some Notes on the Invisibility of a Nascent Eastern European Feminist and Gender Discourse in Contemporary Art Theory, in: Bojana Pejić (ed.), “Gender Check. A Reader. Art and Theory in Eastern Europe“, Köln am Rhein, Walther König, 2010, pp. 37–49.
15Mirek Vodrážka, Before the Great Exodus. The Roots of Czech Antifeminism, in: Bojana Pejić (ed.),Gender Check. A Reader. Art and Theory in Eastern Europe“, Köln am Rhein, Walther König, 2010, pp. 171–178.
16See: Agata Jakubowska, Circulation of Feminist Ideas in Communist Poland, in: Beata Hock, Anu Allas (eds.), “Globalizing East European Art Histories: Past and Present”, London, Routledge, 2018, pp. 135–148;  Beata Hock, Gendered Artistic Positions. Politics, Cinema, and the Visual Arts in State-Socialist and Post-Socialist Hungary, Stuttgart, Franz Steiner Verlag, 2013.
17See: Jacqui True, Gender, Globalization, and Postsocialism. The Czech Republic After Communism, New York, Columbia University Press, 2003; Barbara Einhorn, Cinderella Goes to Market. Citizenship, Gender and Women's Movements in East Central Europe, London, Verso, 1993.
18Hana Hašková, Zuzana Uhde (eds.), Women and Social Citizenship in Czech Society. Continuity and Change, Prague, Institute of Sociology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, 2009; Steven Saxonberg, Tomáš Sirovátka, Failing Family Policy in Post-Communist Central Europe, Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis, Vol. 8, 2006, No. 2, pp. 185–202.
19Hana Hašková, Zuzana Uhde (eds.), Women and Social Citizenship in Czech Society, p. 23.
20Dana Němcová, PM and former dissident, argued e. g. that women's return to households will be caused by labor market already oversaturated by the female labor force. See Květoslava Neradová, Martin C. Putna, Robert Krumphanzl, Rozhovor s Danou Němcovou [Interview with Dana Němcová], Souvislosti. Revue pro křesťanství a kulturu [Background. Revue for Christianity and Culture], Vol. 3, 1992, No. 4, s. 139–144.
21Gabriela Převrátilová, Eva Uhrová, Kde jsme – kam jdeme. Beseda redakce Vlasty o ženských snech, představách, přáních, zájmech, trablech, organizacích a hnutích [Where we are – where we are going. Vlasta's editorial board discussion on women's dreams, ideas, wishes, interests, troubles, organizations and movements], Vlasta, Vol. 44, 1990, No. 10, p. 10, 11, 12.
22Marianna Placáková (ed.), On the Czech Translation of Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex, Contradictions. A Journal for Critical Thought, Vol. 4, 2020, No. 2, pp. 155–186.
23e.g. Judith Butler, Sex and Gender in Simone de Beauvoir's Second Sex, Yale French Studies, Vol. 39, 1986, No. 72, pp. 35–49.
24Klady a zápory emancipace [Pros and cons of emancipation], Vlasta, Vol. 41, 1987, No. 12, p. 6; Věra Drápelová, Emancipace – pro a proti [Emancipation – for and against], Květy, Vol. 140, 1989, No. 25, pp. 10, 11; Dopředu nebo dozadu? [Forward or backward?], Vlasta, Vol. 43, 1989, No. 25, pp. 8.
25Kateřina Zábrodská, Between Femininity and Feminism: Negotiationg the Identity of a „Czech Socialist Woman“ in Women's Accounts of State Socialism, in: Hana Havelková, Libora Oates-Indruchová (eds.), “The Politics of Gender Culture under State Socialism. An Expropriated Voice”, New York, Routledge, 2014, pp. 109–132.
26Towards the conceptualization of women's agency in different cultural and social conditions, cf. Amy Borovoy, Kristen Ghodsee, Decentering Agency in Feminist Theory: Social Democracy, Post-socialism, and the Re-engagement of the Social Good, Women’s Studies International Forum, Vol. 35, 2012, No. 3, pp. 153–165.
27Helena Klímová, Feminismus a naše středoevropská zkušenost [Feminism and our Central European Experience], Souvislosti. Revue pro křesťanství a kulturu [Revue for Christianity and Culture], Vol. 3, 1992, No. 4, pp. 27–38.
28Jindřich Chalupecký, L'anima dell'androgino / The Soul of the Androgyne, Flash Art, Vol. 11, 1977, No. 78–79, pp. 55–57.
29Marianna Placáková, Já, Chalupecký a Flash Art [Chalupecký, Flash Art and I]. An interview with Helena Kontová, Art+Antiques, Vol. 20, 2021, No. 3, pp. 38–48.
30e.g. Gislind Nabakowski, editor-in-chief of Heute Kunst, saw feminist art as androgynous. Cf. Gerhild Grolitsch, Siamo femministe / We are feminists. Interview with Gislind Nabakowski, Flash Art, Vol. 10, 1976, No. 68–69, pp. 17–20.
31In Czech, there is only the term “female art" [ženské umění] (in contrast to English, with its semantically different versions of "woman's art", "female art", "feminine art"), which has very essentialist connotations. It can denote traditional decorative arts or, on the other hand, as in Chalupecký's positive definition, art created by women, based on their embodied experience.
32Anketa Svět žen [Poll World of Women], Prostor. Nezávislá Revue [Independent Revue], Vol. 5, June 1992, pp. 129–134; Anketa Iniciál. Feminismus… ano?, Iniciály [Survey Feminism… yes ?], Sešity nezavedené literatury [Notebooks of non-established literature], Vol. 2, 1992, No. 25, pp. 14–17.
33Věra Jirousová, Žádné ženské umění neexistuje [There is no such thing as women’s art], Výtvarné umění [Fine Art], Vol. 17, 1993, No. 1, pp. 42–52.
34Zuzana Štefková, The East Side Story of (Gendered) Art: Framing Gender in Czech and Slovak Contemporary Art, in: Iveta Jusová, Jiřina Šiklová (eds.), “Czech Feminisms. Perspectives on Gender in East Central Europe”, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 2016, pp. 247–269; Martina Pachmanová, From Within, From Without: Configurations of Feminism, Gender and Art in Post-Wall Europe, in: Hilary Robinson – Maria Elena Buszek (eds.), “A Companion to Feminist Art”, Hoboken, Wiley-Blackwell, 2019, pp. 111–126.
35Maartje H. J. Meijs, Kate A. Ratliff, Joris Lammers, The Discrepancy Between How Women See Themselves and Feminists Predicts Identification with Feminism, Sex Roles, Vol. 43, 2017, No. 5–6, DOI 10.1007/s11199-016-0733-8; Jolien A. van Breen, Russell Spears, Toon Kuppens, Soledad de Lemus, A Multiple Identity Approach to Gender: Identification with Women, Identification with Feminists, and Their Interaction, Frontiers in Psychology, Vol. 8, 2017, DOI=10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01019.
36Dana Braunová, Emancipace: Růže s mnoha trny [Emancipation: Roses with Many Thorns], Vlasta, Vol. 42, 1988, No. 15, pp. 10, 11.
37Jiřina Šiklová, Helena Jarošová, Žena v dnešní rodině [Woman in Contemporary Family], Prague, Mladá fronta, 1976, pp. 46–50.
38Ivan Sviták, Člověk nebo sexus? [Human Being or Sex?], Literární noviny [Literary Newspaper], Vol. 16, 1967, No. 9, pp. 1, 6; Zdena Salivarová-Škvorecká, Nečekané pozvání [Unexpected Invitation] (1988), in: Zdena Salivarová, Vladimír Drha, “Anně K. je zima a další texty” [Anna K. is Cold and Other Texts], Nové Město nad Cidlinou, Společnost Josefa Škvoreckého, 1992, pp. 38–40. The image of American women was also conveyed to the Czech audience through Sue Kaufman's book The Diary of an American Wife (1967), which was published in two editions in Czechoslovakia in the 1970s and 1980s.
39Chiara Bofiglioli, Remembering the conference „Comrade Woman. The Women’s Question: A New Approach?“ thirty years after (MA dissertation), Utrecht University, Faculty of Arts – Women’s Studies, 2008, pp. 60–61, pp. 87–94.
40Marianna Placáková, Socialistický akt. Marxismus a teorie fotografie šedesátých let [Socialist Nude. Marxism and the Theory of Photography of the 1960s], Sešit pro teorii, umění a příbuzné zóny [The Notebook for Art, Theory, and Related Zones], Vol. 14, 2020, No. 29, pp. 88–147.
41Vladimír Páral, Země žen [The Earth of Women], Prague, Československý spisovatel [The Czechoslovak Writer] 1987; Srdečný pozdrav ze zeměkoule [Greetings from the globe] (dir. Oldřich Lipský), 1982.
42The statements of Jiří David and Jaroslav Róna are well known. Cf. Martina Pachmanová, Masáž Martiny Pachmanové [Massage by Martina Pachmanová], Reflex, February 20, 2003, p. 52; Martina Pachmanová, Zázraky všednodennosti [Miracles of Everyday Life]. Interview with Milena Dopitová, in: Pavlína Morganová, “Někdy v sukni. Umění 90. Let” [Sometimes in a Skirt. Art of the 1990s], Brno, Moravian Gallery, 2014, pp. 92–98.
43Marianna Placáková, Sexismus a subverze [Sexism and Subversion], Vol. 19, Art+Antiques, 2020, No. 6, pp. 42–47.
44For example, the married couple of theorists, the Ševčíks, who introduced the theory of postmodernism to Czechoslovakia before 1989, included feminism among topics such as AIDS or ethnic minorities that artists could encounter through "Western" trends in the 1990s, but had no experience with them. Cf. Jana Ševčíková, Jiří Ševčík, V mezeře mezi kontexty [In the gap between contexts], in: “Urbane Legenden Prag”, Baden Baden, Staatliche Kunsthalle 1996.
45Jirousová, Žádné ženské umění neexistuje [There is no such thing as women’s art], p. 46; Pachmanová, Zázraky všednodennosti [Miracles of Everyday Life]: Interview with Milena Dopitová, p. 95.
46In the Czech environment, there is still an open debate about this issue. On the one hand, the interpretation of the women's statements as gender blindness is understood as the result of the univerzalist "Western" feminist perspective. The positions of women are then explained in the local context — as a coping strategy, or the result of the internalization of emancipated roles of women without their rhetorical articulation, or the remnants of the equity of gender relations under state socialism. The critique of this interpretation lies in the question of whether it is possible to separate emancipation in its theoretical and practical framework from its declarative label or reflection. Cf. Hana Havelková, Mezi pragmatismem a ideologií – obrana socialisticky emancipovaného ženství [Between pragmatism and ideology – defense of socialist emancipated womanhood], in: Libora Oates-Indruchová (ed.), “Tvrdošíjnost myšlenky: Od feministické kriminologie k teorii genderu” [The Durabilty of Thought: From feminist criminology to gender theory], Prague, SLON, 2011, pp. 87–99; Gerlinda Šmausová, Emancipace, socialismus a feminismus [Emancipation, Socialism and Feminism] (2001), in ibid., pp. 195–206.
47An example is the position of the Czech emigrant to Canada, Vladimír Stwora, who published his xenophobic and sexist views, criticising the "Western" political correctness, in the mainstream media in the 1990s. Today, he can rely only on his own platform and his conspiracy website. Cf. Vladimír Stwora, O velkém sexuálním harašení [On the Great Sexual Harassment], Mladý svět [Young World], Vol. 35, 1993, No. 3, 40–41.
48Artist Jiří David: I used to live in an art neighbourhood that was as big as Prague, Radio Wave, 23. 1. 2020, https://wave.rozhlas.cz/umelec-jiri-david-bydlel-jsem-v-umelecke-ctvrti-velke-jako-praha-8139246#volume.
49Lucie Jarkovská, Podcast Sádlo: Jak zvítězit nad patriarchátem? Přijmout vlastní nekrásné tělo, [Podcast Lard: How to defeat patriarchy? Accept your own non-beautiful body], a2larm, 18. 2. 2021, https://a2larm.cz/2021/02/podcast-sadlo-jak-zvitezit-nad-patriarchatem-prijmout-vlastni-nekrasne-telo/.
50See: http://feministinstitution.org/code-of-practice/.
51At the institutional level, art historian Martina Pachmanová has been devoted to the research of feminism and visual productions in the Czech Republic (approximately since 2000), as well as art historian Zuzana Štefková and artist Lenka Klodová. Recently, a feminist studio of Kateřina Olivová and Darina Alster has been established at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. Despite the growing representation of individual lectures and debates on the topic of feminism and art, it is still not possible to speak of a deeper discussion, such as those that are taking place, for example, in the academic environment of Czech sociology or gender studies.
52Cf. L'ubica Kobová, K pozorovaniu príkladnej praxe [On the Observation of Exemplary Practice], in: Věra Sokolová, L'ubica Kobová (eds.), “Odvaha nesouhlasit. Feministické myšlení Hany Havelkové a jeho reflexe” [The Courage to Disagree. The Feminist Thought of Hana Havelková and Critical Reflections], Prague, FHS UK, 2019, pp. 388–393.

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