Just when you think the New York Times
can't discredit itself any further, it continues its rehabilitation of socialism/communism with an article over the weekend titled -- are you sitting down for this? -- "Why Women Had Better Sex Under Socialism
"When Americans think of Communism in Eastern Europe," begins Kristen R. Ghodsee, a professor of Russian and East European studies at the University of Pennsylvania, "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" -- [much of this? All of this] -- "our collective stereotype of Communist life does not tell the whole story."
Right, our stereotyping left out all the good parts of life under Communism. For example, Ghodsee, the author of numerous books on European Communism and its aftermath, claims that "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."
Sounds great! A liberal utopia! But that's not the best part. "[T]here’s one advantage that has received little attention: Women under Communism enjoyed more sexual pleasure." Ghodsee states that "women had more fulfilling lives during the Communist era. And they owed this quality of life, in part, to the fact that these regimes saw women’s emancipation as central to advanced 'scientific socialist' societies, as they saw themselves."
“Sure, some things were bad during that time, but my life was full of romance,” the Bulgarian Ana Durcheva told the professor. “After my divorce, I had my job and my salary, and I didn’t need a man to support me. I could do as I pleased.” By contrast, her daughter, born in the late 1970s, and the daughter's husband work so hard that they're too tired to do anything but watch TV "like zombies. When I was her age, we had much more fun.”
Who knew that life under brutal state oppression could be so wild and sexy?
Ghodsee goes on to depict Communist governments as being pro-feminist, although they "never fully reformed domestic patriarchy." Well, nobody's perfect. Still, "Communist women enjoyed a degree of self-sufficiency that few Western women could have imagined... The socialist state met their basic needs and countries such as Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and East Germany committed extra resources to support single mothers, divorcées and widows... [M]ost Eastern European countries guaranteed access to sex education and abortion."
“The [People’s Republic of Bulgaria] gave me my freedom,” Ms. Durcheva said. “Democracy took some of that freedom away.”
Democracy and freedom. So patriarchal. Such a burden.
For a fictional but chillingly accurate depiction of just how sexy and liberating life was for women in Communist Eastern Europe, check out The Lives of Others, from which the pic above was taken.