Sunday 8 October from 18.30
The Art of Loving
A special event featuring the screening of the film The Art of Loving by Maria Sadowska followed by a debate in the presence of two experts on the subject.
I. ‘The Art of Loving’ - the book and the author
The ‘Art of Loving’ (1978) is a publication by Michalina Wisłocka (1921-2005), the famous Polish gynaecologist and sexologist, who revolutionised the intimate life of Poles. The author became famous for her determination to educate women about their sexual lives and initiated a more open discussion of the subject, in contrast to the conservative and traditional approach that had been cultivated for centuries. She stressed that sex is and should be treated as a natural part of everyday life, considered as neither positive nor negative but neutral, and should be demystified.
The film shows Wisłocka’s long struggle to publish her revolutionary book, titled ‘The Art of Loving’, which eventually became a bestseller with more than seven million copies sold in communist Poland, not including the number of copies in unofficial circulation. The book was present in almost every Polish household at that time, a fact nowadays hardly imaginable, despite the fact that the country has always been considered very conservative and Catholic.
‘The Art of Loving’ also became a bestseller in other countries of the Soviet Bloc (5 million copies sold in the USSR), Germany, UK and China.
Additionally Wisłocka was a co-founder of the first Society of Sensible Maternity, in which she worked on infertility treatment and birth control and chief of the Dispensary of Sensible Maternity at the Institute of Mother and Child in Warsaw, the first department of its kind in Poland. During the 1970s, she was the director of the Cytodiagnostic Laboratory of the Family Planning Society.
She was a fascinating, brave and charismatic individual who fought the patriarchal reality of the Polish People’s Republic for the benefit of her patients, to a large extent at the expense of her own private life.
II. The Debate
After the screening of the film we would like to invite our audience to join the debate about female sexuality today with two experts: Isabel Scott (an expert on gender and sexual health) and Anne Schaaf (a journalist focusing on issues related to feminism and sexuality). Together with our guests we would like to find the answer to the question whether the work started by Michalina Wisłocka has yet been completed.
Sexologists say that in the last 50 years there have been three social movements (also called sexual revolutions) which had an impact on the intimate life of Europeans. The first, which was the result of widespread access to contraception, allowed women to consciously control their fertility and break the link between sexual activity and pregnancy. The second was related to the change of gender roles, which became more fluid, and the third (nowadays) is associated with the increasing demands and self-awareness of women.
During the debate we will discuss whether our societies have smoothly navigated from shame and hypocrisy to openness and integrity in this field.
We would also like to open the discussion about different aspects of the rights that Wisłocka fought for and about their evolution, such as:
- access to high-quality gynaecological care
- professional sexual education in schools
- equal rights to sexual pleasure (both physical and emotional) for men and women
- open communication in the life of couples
- fighting discrimination, coercion and sexual violence