A Letter to Jirina Siklova

A Letter to Jirina Siklova

DEAR JIRINA,

In June 1990, we sat in your Prague apartment sipping tea as a soft summer breeze floated through opened windows. I asked you endless questions about the experiences of female dissidents and the problems facing Czechoslovakian women after the fall of communism.

We talked about the ingenious political strategies women devised when they were dissidents. We discussed the Christian groups who now will try to limit abortion. We spoke about economists’ plans to “retire” women to the home in order to ease unemployment. You explained why, after decades of state-coerced labor, many women will view this as progressive. We talked, too, about the difficult economic dependence some of those women
may eventually confront. You helped me understand why a social democratic left that could promote women’s (or workers’) rights still reeks, for many people, of communist betrayal. Still, you predicted that a “hard
feminism” might emerge within five years to redress the grievances of women in your society.

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Lima