"[In]... brothels off Wenceslas Square, in central Prague, [where] sexual intercourse can be bought for USD 25 - about half price charged at a German brothel... Slav women have supplanted Filipinos and Thais as most common foreign offering in [Europe]." (The Economist, August 2000, p.18)
"I'm also wary of revolutionary ambition of some feminist texts, with their ideas about changing present conditions, having seen enough attempted utopia's for one lifetime" (Petr Príhoda, The New Presence, 2000, p. 35).
"As probably every country has its Amazons, if we go far back in Czech mythology, to a collection of Old Czech Legends, we come across a very interesting legend about Dévín castle (which literally means 'The Girls' Castle'). It describes a bloody story about a rebellion of women, who started a vengeful war against men. As story goes, they were not only capable warriors, they had no mercy and would not hesitate to kill their fathers and brothers. Under leadership of mighty Vlasta, "girls" lived in their castle, "Dévín", where they underwent a severe military training. They led war very successfully, and one day Vlasta came up with an shrewd plan, how to take hostage a famous nobleman, Ctirad. She chose lovely Sárka from body (sic!) of her troops and had her tied up to a tree by a road with a horn and a jar of a mead out of her reach, but in her sight. In this state, Sárka was waiting for Ctirad to find her. When he actually really appeared and saw her, she told him a sad story of how women from Dévín punished her for not following their ideology by tying her to tree, mockingly putting a jar and a horn (so that she would be always reminded that she is thirsty and helpless) near by. Ctirad, enchanted by beautiful woman, believed lure and untied her, and when she handed him mead, he willingly drunk it. When he was drunk already, she let him blow horn, which was a signal for Dévín warriors to capture him. He was then tortured in many horrible ways, at end of which, his body was woven into a wooden wheel and displayed. This event mobilized army, which soon afterwards destroyed Dévín. (Very significantly, this legend is only account of radical feminism in Czech Lands.)" ("The Vissicitudes of Czech Feminism" by Petra Hanáková)
"We myself...and many others are not in search of global sisterhood at all, and it is only when we give up expecting it that we can get anywhere. It is each other's very 'otherness ' that motivates us, and things we find in common take on greater meaning within context of otherness. There is so much to learn by comparing ways in which we are different, and which same elements of women's experience are global, and which aren't, and wondering why, and what it means" (Jirina Siklová)
"It is difficult to carry three watermelons under one arm." (Proverb attributed to Bulgarian women)
"The high level of unemployment among women, segregation in labour market, increasing salary gap between women and men, lack of women present at decision making level, increasing violence against women, high levels of maternal and infant mortality, total absence of a contraceptive industry in Russia, insufficiency of child welfare benefits, lack of adequate resources to fund current state programs - this is only part of long list of women's rights violations." (Elena Kotchkina, Moscow Centre for Gender Studies, "Report on Legal Status of Women in Russia")
Communism was men's nightmare and women's dream, or so left wing version goes. In reality it was a gender-neutral hell. Women under communism were, indeed, encouraged to participate in labour force. An array of conveniences facilitated their participation: day care centres, kindergarten, daylong schools, abortion clinics. They had their quota in parliament. They climbed to top of some professions (though there was a list of women-free occupations, more than 90 is Poland). But this - as most other things in communism - was a mere simulacrum.
Reality was much drearier. Women, however mettlesome, groaned under "triple burden" - work, marital expectations cum childrearing chores and party activism. They succumbed to lure and demands of (stressful and boastful) image of communist "super-woman". This martyrdom - now threatened by dual Western imports, capitalism and feminism - served as a fountain of self-esteem and a source of self-worth in otherwise gloomy circumstances.
Yet, communist inspired workplace revolution was not complemented by a domestic one. Women's traditional roles - so succinctly summarized by Bismarck with Prussian geniality as "kitchen, children, church" - survived modernizing onslaught of scientific Marxism. It is true that power shifted within family unit ("The woman is neck that moves head, her husband"). But "underslippers" (as Czech men disparagingly self-labeled) still had upper hand. In short, women were now subjected to onerous double patriarchy, both private and public (the latter propagated by party and state). It is not that they did not value independence, status, social interaction and support networks that their jobs afforded them. But they resented lack of choice (employment was obligatory) and parasitic rule of their often useless husbands. Many of them were an integral and important part of national and social movements throughout region. Yet, with victory secured and goals achieved, they were invariably shunned and marginalized. As a result, they felt exploited and abused. Small wonder women voted overwhelmingly for right wing parties post communism.