Ann Snitow is Associate Professor of Literature and Gender Studies at Lang College, The New School, in New York City. A longtime activist, Snitow has cofounded The Network of East-West Women, No More Nice Girls, and New York Radical Feminists. She has written for
“Should I Marry Him?”: Questions from Students
Snitow began teaching a course about gender and feminism in a summer school in Cracow, Poland in 1992, where both US and East Central European students encountered new ideas and each other. This piece offers a number of anecdotes to illustrate some of the themes of the always-intense conversation. Each year, the student population and the tone and content of class discussions changed fundamentally at the same careening pace in which conditions and values in East Central Europe were changing. Some students were repelled by western feminism with its interest in pleasure and choice, preferring the values they associated with the dignity of women: duty and sacrifice. Others were disturbed by the way feminist ideas might interrupt earlier assumptions about their future life course. Still others registered losses as well as gains in their fast-changing situation. Snitow’s pedagogy changed, too, and her basic feminist assumptions shifted in content and emphasis.