Did women have better sex under socialism?
“Why women had better sex under socialism,” proclaims the August 12 New York Times headline. For author Kirsten Ghodsee, professor of Russian and East European studies at the University of Pennsylvania, superior socialist sex is a matter of settled science.
“When Americans think of Communism in Eastern Europe,” Ghodsee explains, “they imagine travel restrictions, bleak landscapes of gray concrete, miserable men and women languishing in long lines to shop in empty markets and security services snooping on the private lives of citizens. While much of this was true, our collective stereotype of Communist life does not tell the whole story.”
In professor Ghodsee’s view, “Eastern bloc women enjoyed many rights and privileges unknown in liberal democracies at the time, including major state investments in their education and training, their full incorporation into the labor force, generous maternity leave allowances and guaranteed free child care.” Beyond all that, “women under Communism enjoyed more sexual pleasure.”
A 1990 “comparative sociological study” found that East German women had “twice as many orgasms as Western women.” Ghodsee, formerly professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at Bowdoin College, is completely convinced. As she explains, “most Eastern European women could not travel to the West or read a free press, but scientific socialism did come with some benefits.”
As early as 1952, the professor says, Czechoslovak sexologists started doing research on the female orgasm, and in 1961 they held a conference solely on the topic. Turns out, equality between men and women was “a core component of female pleasure.” The ideological foundation for women’s equality was “laid” by August Bebel and Friedrich Engels. Then Vladimir Lenin and his Bolshevik comrades “enabled a sexual revolution in the early years of the Soviet Union.”
Therefore, “women had more fulfilling lives during the Communist era,” and they owed this quality of life to “scientific socialist societies.” The “necessary social change,” professor Ghodsee explains, “needs an emancipation proclamation from above.”
As Orwell said, it was all Big Brother’s idea. In this dialectic, women have better sex under scientific socialism because of scientific socialism. It’s cause and effect, just kind of a simple thing.
Meanwhile, the lantern-jawed, headscarfed woman in the accompanying New York Times photo is not exactly basking in the afterglow of proletarian poontang. She’s shucking hay with a pitchfork on some collective farm in 1955, the year before Nikita Khrushchev revealed Stalin’s mass atrocities. She may later have been arrested, as Boris Pasternak wrote in Doctor Zhivago, and “vanished without a trace, forgotten as a nameless number on a list that afterward got mislaid, in one of the innumerable mixed or women’s concentration camps in the north.”
Professor Ghodsee’s main beef with Stalin is that he outlawed abortion and promoted the nuclear family. The professor’s comfy stereotype of Communist life avoids the forced labor camps, forced famines, mass murder, persecution of dissidents, and all the barbarities of totalitarian rule imposed by an all-male politburo for more than half a century.
For further reading see The Great Terror by Robert Conquest, The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and Bloodlands, by Timothy Snyder, to name only a few. On the notion that socialism is “scientific,” see The Road to Serfdom, by F.A. Hayek.
“Why women had better sex under socialism,” might have been written by George Carlin, though it truly defies satire. On the other hand, the piece recalls New York Times Moscow correspondent Walter Duranty.
As he wrote, not only was there no forced famine in Ukraine in 1932-33 but under Stalin’s scientific socialism abundance prevailed. Duranty won a Pulitzer for those articles and Dr. Ghodsee deserves a prize for the most fatuous article on Communism since the days of Anna Louise Strong.
The celebrated American journalist would not call Stalin a god because “he was too important for that.” At the nadir of Stalin’s repressions, Strong described Communist society as a dynamo of prosperity and social justice, with equal rights for women.
Professor Ghodsee, once a Guggenheim fellow, is also the author of The Left Side of History and Lost in Transition: Ethnographies of Everyday Life after Communism. In Nostalgia for Communism she mentions “abstract rights,” that “play second fiddle to the material and social conditions of our interactions.”
For those on the left, “abstract rights” are bourgeois trifles such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, and so forth. Professor Ghodsee’s beloved Eastern Bloc was without a free press but offered the more “material” rights to health care, child care, and the right to “free education.” Those are the very rights touted by Vermont socialist Bernie Sanders.
Sanders spent his honeymoon in the USSR and Kirsten Ghodsee believes that under Communism, women had better sex and, count ‘em, twice as many orgasms. And like climate change, the science is settled.
Perhaps professor Ghodsee could serve as Sanders’ running mate. Both are already back in the USSR, as the Beatles said, so why not come and keep your comrade warm?