Between 2012 and 2015, Poland experienced an unprecedented discursive and institutional anti-gender campaign. The dispute took the form of attacks travelling from the catholic establishment, right-wing media and opinion-makers into the local and national levels of government. This paper analyses a central puzzle that exists in the discursive construction of gender as an archenemy and threat in Polish political debates and media. While the initial responses by feminist and LGBTQ+ circles tended to see the phenomenon as a feature of the singularly Polish post-transformation cultural wars, from the perspective of time it is important to stress the «war on gender» in the broader context of right-wing and ultra-religious resurgence in Eastern Europe, but also as part of larger European movements. What is the significance of the deployment of this discourse in the media and politics? I argue that the ambivalent position of the political establishment in terms of their commitment to gender equality in political discourse has paved the way for the current dismantling of the already weak institutional guarantors of anti-discrimination and equality. I explore therefore how the norms concerning gender equality have been merely skin-deep and, once codified, seemed to be a «done deal» that needed no further work.