← Volume 12: Challenges and Perspectives of Hate Speech Research


Unfree to Speak and Forced to Hate?

The phenomenon of the All-Poland Women’s Strike

Dagmara Szczepańska & Marta Marchlewska

Berlin, 2023
DOI 10.48541/dcr.v12.4 (SSOAR)

Abstract: This chapter explores abusive language’s role when employed by a group with a lower social status whose rights are threatened by political authorities. We focus on the language of protest that emerged during the 2020 All-Poland Women’s Strike, following a court ruling that almost totally banned legal abortions in Poland. Since some slogans used by these protesters could be interpreted as expressions of abusive language, we decided to analyze their meaning in a wider socio-political context. We show that women’s use of vulgarisms and offensive language can serve as a tool of social and political change and that it may lead to empowerment. Moreover, given the cultural underpinnings of Polish society’s gender-based social norms, we show that the use of abusive language may symbolize the process of redefining the traditional gender contract in Poland.


Dagmara Szczepańska is a researcher at the Institute of Psychology, Polish Academy of Sciences, and a lecturer at Maria Grzegorzewska University, Poland. ORCID logo

Marta Marchlewska is the head of the Political Cognition Lab at the Institute of Psychology, Polish Academy of Sciences, and a lecturer at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Poland. ORCID logo

Szczepańska, D., & Marchlewska, M. (2023). Unfree to speak and forced to hate? The phenomenon of the All-Poland Women’s Strike. In C. Strippel, S. Paasch-Colberg, M. Emmer, & J. Trebbe (Eds.), Challenges and perspectives of hate speech research (pp. 55-71). Digital Communication Research. https://doi.org/10.48541/dcr.v12.4

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