On the symbols of Poland’s pro-choice protests – Sunai Institute

Sunai Institute

On the symbols of Poland’s pro-choice protests

Without even stepping on the somewhat slippery ground of semiotics we wish to share a few thoughts about how symbols take on different meanings depending on context and era. Looking briefly at the 2020 pro-choice protests in Poland‘s main symbol to be precise:

Image: Wikipedia

Interestingly enough the first two associations we had when first seeing this symbol were of an artistic nature – very fitting ones, in a figurative way. The first was David Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust persona – an icon of self-determination in his own right.

The second one was Marilyn Manson, in his shock rock period of the late 1990s – an amusing coincidence as Bowie’s work was a significant inspiration for Manson’s own work [1]as he repeatedly stated, e. g. in this Rolling Stone interview.

Image: Wikipedia

While the symbol can be read as merely a stylized version of the international high voltage symbol there are more involved interpretations of it too[2] e. g. here at nachtkabarett.com, unfortunately only unencrypted.

Another remarkable detail appears to be the fact, that there have been Nazi accusations around the use of this symbol and the live performances of the band back then. Remarkable merely for the fact that using totalitarian themes in art (Laibach‘s Država from 1986 being a notable example) is not as uncommon even today – kitsch by 2020 even? – as one would expect.

Why is this mentioned here? Because the protesters have been accused in a similar manner[3]just mentioning Godwin’s law with a wink as unexpected as that might read.

It is not without fascination to assert, that all the three mentioned expressions of art which came to mind looking at the Strajk Kobijet’s main symbol have made their own contributions to liberating the individual from various kinds of oppression. Bowie in assuring generations of his audience that it is perfectly ok to be a little bit different, Laibach in challenging a totalitarian system as early as 1980[4]needless to say that this was an act of risking personal health and safety back in those days in Yugoslavia with means of art and Manson in his unique reflection of the evangelical & late-capitalist United States of America.

Howsoever, for an informed explanation on the actual symbols of the protest we recommend reading “The symbols of Poland’s abortion protests explained” on notesfrompoland.com – not lastly for learning about other symbols and their reuse in the current struggle:

“Wypierdalać” and Solidarity 

One of the main slogans of the current protests has been “Wypierdalać”, a vulgarity that translates roughly as “Fuck off”.

The word has been chanted by demonstrators, while also appearing on posters and banners. Some quickly began to combine it with an iconic Polish symbol of protests and resistance, the logo of the Solidarity (Solidarność) trade union that played a leading role in bringing down communism in Poland in the 1980s.

Lastly and just to be clear: the Sunai Institute believes in and values highly the freedom of the individual in general and in sexual matters in particular. We reject all means to unconsentingly limit this freedom, be it by means of organized spirituality or otherwise – Trzymajcie się drogie Panie! HANG IN THERE LADIES!

Picture: Sunai Institute

Remarks

Remarks
1 as he repeatedly stated, e. g. in this Rolling Stone interview
2 e. g. here at nachtkabarett.com, unfortunately only unencrypted
3 just mentioning Godwin’s law with a wink
4 needless to say that this was an act of risking personal health and safety back in those days in Yugoslavia

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