One of the more troubling signs in the Western academy is the creeping revisionism of everything related to one of the two most repressive and bloody political movements of the XX century - the Soviet style socialism. This post is about an example of modern days feminist "research", based on socialist propaganda, chiefly meant to hail the dubious achievements in the women's liberation and empowerment. Taken as granted by people ready and willing to be duped.
The main reason for this post isn't to fight the misinformation and improve the quality of the relevant research - it is mission impossible in the current atmosphere on the campuses. Nope, it is mainly to warn some of my friends from the Western countries who took the misinformation and misinterpretation seriously and believed it.
The woman in the picture - let's call her Dasha, since she will appear in this post a few times - was chosen to grace the masthead of a curious article. The article caused a serious bout of jaw dropping amongst my friends, who, like I, experienced first hand the real life in the socialist heaven. To start with, it hits you between the eyes with its headline:
The reader is not asked to ponder whether the ladies had indeed better sex under socialism, just made curious why. Obviously the author has decided that the former is a solid fact.
The anchor statement in the article: "Women under Communism enjoyed more sexual pleasure." It is chiefly based on a longish video, comparing favorably the wise attitude of the East Germany's communist party towards all matters sexual, including sex education in schools. There is one slight problem with this piece of evidence: it is based on the communist-produced and fairly crude propaganda clips, created, as it was done all over the "socialist camp", with one goal in mind: brainwashing. Usually laughed off by the local citizenry at the time as a sordid pack of lies, it seems to work today, if a professor of Gender and Women's Studies* sees it fit to be used as valid historical document.
But I'm not into comparing East and West Germanies, so let's go to the Motherland of that unfortunate social phenomenon, the Soviet Union. Let's take as an example our Dasha and see how she enjoyed all these orgasm-inducing "rights and privileges unknown in liberal democracies at the time" of the socialist heaven that the author of the article so touchingly presents:
1. Major state investments in their education and training.
Nope, there weren't any special investments for education of the better gender. In case of Dasha, had she decided to throw down her pitchfork and enroll in an university, she would first have to ask for a permission from her collective farm management to travel to an university and be issued an internal passport (you couldn't travel without one, and collective farm workers got a passport only in special cases - a form of slavery incomprehensible in the West, but probably unknown to the Western scientists in the field of Gender and Women's Studies).
The next step Dasha would have to make is to pass the entrance exams. No special allowance for gender there, Soviet Union practiced a purely merit-based entrance examination system, the only exception made to favor/disfavor these or other ethnic minorities. Not even mentioning bribes and family connections...
And the last but not the least: Dasha's ability to study these 5 years required to get a master's degree were largely dependent on support her parents could possibly muster. Yes, the education was free and Dasha would have probably gotten a monthly stipend, but far from enough to survive. To expect that her collective farm parents would have been able to support Dasha - nah, very unlikely.
Dasha's sisters from the city had much better chances to get an university education, but it was too dependent on the financial situation of their parents. Not much difference in that, unless the parents belonged to the "more equal" category or, as it was widely practiced, were stealing something or other.
2. Full incorporation of women into the labor force
Assuming our Dasha was lucky to become an engineer, a doctor or other graduate of the best educational system in the world (but of course), she might have conceivably been assigned (yes, available jobs were mostly assigned after graduation, with very few exceptions) to an appropriate socialist enterprise. That Dasha's chances to get a position that fit her education were pretty low is besides the point. What is more to the point is that Dasha's chances to get an apartment (or even a room in a communal apartment she could consider her own) were practically nil. It usually took years and years of waiting in line for an available and miserable one or two room flat, and for an unmarried citizen it usually meant years and years in a dormitory with one or more roommates. Kinda puts a stop to one's sexual plans, doesn't it? Taking into account the scarcity of cars and, in case one got a boyfriend with a car, the puny size of the back seat, the difficulty of having any sex, not to mention superior one, are limited to forests, parks, dark alleys, weather or parents obligingly going on a vacation out of the city etc.
But, assuming that Dasha succeeded to come through all this unscathed, without a social disease (rampant in the place at the time), avoided falling into the hands of a pimp (yep, even in the socialist motherland there were quite a few of them) and got happily married, her aspirations, as far as sex is concerned, might still remain unfulfilled. If her hubby didn't belong to the "more equal" or otherwise financially well to do family, their joint effort to bring enough money to feed the young family, their time spent in the endless queues for food and other necessary items, their daily exhaustion etc... the going joke was that the best birth control instrument is the engineer's salary, which is completely true. Of course, you might notice, birth control and sex are not one and the same. True, but take into account the scarcity of the former...
In short, engineer Dasha wasn't too much into sex, not after her honeymoon.
3. Generous maternity leave allowances
Yep. Maternity leave there was and it was growing with time, up to three years at the end of USSR, if my memory is serving me right. The only catch was that the number of paid months was limited to 4 (four). So most of the women never used the generosity of unpaid leave: to survive on one salary - if there was a husband, of course - was practically impossible. Another one of the Soviet myths fit for brainwashing the Western starry-eyed sympathizers.
4. Quaranteed free child care.
That guarantee, as much of what was written in the Soviet constitution (indeed, on paper, a wondrous document, most of it fiction, of course) isn't worth the paper - even that of NYT, where the article is printed. First of all, the available places in kindergartens were scarce, especially if you were a medium/big city dweller. Even when available, it frequently meant a long bus ride from one's home to the kindergarten - only adding to that exhaustion at the end of the day. And even if you got to be a lucky parent with a place in the kindergarten: the average number of days your kid would have spent there was about half of the planned, due to incessant illnesses. And the cases where, for instance, the kindergarten staff will keep the windows open during the wintertime, to make more kids sick, were very frequent as well...
Add to all of the above the rampant alcoholism, the habitual wife beating, the cramped living conditions with large families squeezed in one or two rooms - yep, all that surely encouraged exquisite sex. Oh well.
As any Soviet citizen with brain a bit larger than that of hamster will tell you: find a person who waxes lyrically about his/her life (sex life included) under the Soviet regime, and I'll show you a person of privilege, not a regular Joe the Public.
And of course I just have to bring up this exquisite passage from the article:
Consider Ana Durcheva from Bulgaria, who was 65 when I first met her in 2011. Having lived her first 43 years under Communism, she often complained that the new free market hindered Bulgarians’ ability to develop healthy amorous relationships.
The hilarious quote caused me a few laughs. I am not disclosing my age, but I still could compare my amorous relationships before and after my 43. There simply ain't any comparison, you are totally right, Ana, but I am sure it is not because of the social changes Bulgaria underwent. The weather was better back then too...
Dasha on the collective farm
But why have we, indeed, decided to send our Dasha off to the big city to study? What's the reason behind it? Wouldn't she be better off and happier where she is - shoveling hay with that pitchfork? Waking up at 4:00 AM to feed the livestock, then to the fields with her instrument of true socialist labor (as depicted). Six days a week at least, covered by chigger bites and other signs of the wildlife's attention on her body?
We should, possibly, mention that the sanitary conditions at Dasha's accommodations, such as lack of running water, the ubiquitous outhouse, the communal bathhouse once a week etc. - all these were hardly conducive to sexual desires, not to mention deeds. But Dasha was young and where there is a will, there is a way. After all, it is not out of the question that her BF got a few rubbers when the supplies truck visited the collective farm's grocery last week. And he might have even found a way to wash up... but let's not fantasize too much.
And I don't even want to go into unplanned pregnancy and the consequences thereof... too sad.
When I read sentences like these:
Although gender wage disparities and labor segregation persisted, and although the Communists never fully reformed domestic patriarchy, Communist women enjoyed a degree of self-sufficiency that few Western women could have imagined. Eastern bloc women did not need to marry, or have sex, for money.
and when I read the work based on quotes from socialist era "sexologists" and references to August Bebel, Friedrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin, I feel not just a temporal displacement (am I forced to listen to an interminable lecture by a party chieftain again?) but dread. Dread for the youngsters undergoing all this brainwashing by "progressive" professors of Gender and Women's Studies and similar exalted sciences.
Because the seeds these professors sow have already set roots and we see the results on the streets, where jobless (thanks to their useless diplomas) SJWs, Occupiers, Antifa and similar victims of miseducation, are paving the way to the bright socialist future.
Where some of us have already been once.
(*) About the author of the article: Kristen R. Ghodsee (born April 26, 1970) is an American ethnographer and a Professor of Gender and Women's Studies at Bowdoin College. Also - Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures in at the University of Pennsylvania, according to this.
It is interesting to notice that under the rubric "Criticism" there appears the following statement:
In a 2014 essay in the European Journal of Women’s Studies, philosopher Nanette Funk included Ghodsee among a handful of “Revisionist Feminist Scholars” who uncritically tout the achievements of communist era women’s organizations, ignoring the oppressive nature of authoritarian regimes in Eastern Europe.
But the trains run on time, right, professor Ghodsee?