chapter  4
Feminine Voice In Poland: The case of Danuta Wałe˛ sa
ByKatarzyna Kułakowska, Agata Łuksza
Pages 19

This article engages with gendered ideologies in post-socialist Poland through an analysis of the figure of Danuta Wałe˛sa, wife of the legendary Solidarity leader Lech Wałe˛sa, First Lady of Poland from 1990 to 1995, and mother of eight children. Until 2011, when she published her memoirs, Danuta Wałe˛sa humbly and silently stayed in her husband’s shadow. Her autobiography turned out to be a sensational success. In 2012, it was staged as a monodrama, “Danuta W.”, starring the iconic Polish actress Krystyna Janda. This article analyzes not only the book itself, but also the reasons behind its popularity as well as the media buzz caused by the book and Janda’s play. It is maintained that Danuta Wałe˛sa’s autobiography should be perceived in the context of a broader movement of reinterpreting Polish twentieth-century history by dismantling its male-oriented perspective with restored feminine “little narratives.” In this perspective, Danuta Wałe˛sa emerges as a figure of a unique post-socialist feminine sensibility, which combines conservative ideology with the feminist idea of being vocal about feminine experience.