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NY Times’ Socialist Sex Fetish meets the reality of the Real Housewives of the USSR

NY Times’ Socialist Sex Fetish meets the reality of the Real Housewives of the USSR

Stop with the “women had better sex under communism” nonsense

The New York Times recently published an Op-Ed with an eye-popping claim: for all its flaws, the Communist revolution taught Chinese women to dream big.

This was not the first piece published by the New York Times exploring the Alleged glories of socialism as they relate to women. In August, anthropologist Kristen R. Ghodsee attempted to answer the greatest question of the 20th century, in Why Women Had Better Sex Under Socialism (oh — you weren’t wondering that?).

I almost feel sorry for Ghodsee: she did what her advisers taught her, traveled to Bulgaria, chatted with some locals, then came back to the States, chatted with some academics, then back to Bulgaria, then wrote her Op-ed. Unfortunately for her, the Twitter predictably exploded. First, her subject matter is rather giggle-inducing. Secondly, what’s with the GULAGS and Holodomor?

Finding What We’re Looking For

In the 1920’s, an American anthropologist (and a libertine) Margaret Mead have traveled to Samoa, and wrote a book about the wonderfully relaxed islander girls who have healthy, satisfying sex life, and never experience an adolescent crisis. Mead concluded that Western children are harmed by puritanical mores.

In the 1980’s, Australian anthropologist Derek Freeman released his own study of Samoan adolescents, finding very different attitudes towards premarital sex. He discovered that Mead was hoaxed by two Samoan girls who span tall tales about their sexual escapades. Anthropological establishment hates Freeman.

Since the 1920’s Western anthropologists have been on the lookout for some “other” who has a secret to fulfilling sexual life. If Mead was in awe of what we now call the Third World women, Ghodsee celebrates the women of the Second World. Ghodsee’s argument draws on one 1990’s study of orgasm in East and West Germany, interviews with several women in Bulgaria and Germany, and selective historical data.

In regard to her understanding of history, I want to first quote a correction to the op-ed:

An opinion essay last week about Eastern European women’s lives under Communism misattributed responsibility for enacting women’s suffrage in Russia in 1917. It was achieved under the provisional government in July, not by the Bolsheviks, who did not seize power until November.

Soviet Promises, and Reality

Now that we got the natural rights bit out of the way, let’s discuss the list of goodies the Warsaw Pact countries showered on their women: free education, guaranteed employment, maternity leaves, pre-schools, and abortions. Ghodsee is convinced that all goods and services mentioned above freed socialist women to pursue romance.

For an honest look at the everyday life of a Soviet woman I strongly suggest Natalya Baranskaya’s classic 1968 novella A Week Like Any Other. It’s protagonist, Olya, is an educated and ambitious young Soviet mother, is shown attempting to balance work and family, and failing.

One of the downsides of the socialist-style, top-down women’s lib was that although many men had no objection to their women entering the workforce, they still refused to share in housekeeping duties. Ghodsee mentioned the creation of state-mandated reeducation classes for men across the Warsaw Pact sphere (we call them workshops or retreats), but those typically fell on deaf years. Make no mistake: Soviet men did no woman’s work. And thus Olya’s husband who is, by Russian standards, a good husband (that is, educated and sober) feels free to make the most insulting jokes about his wife’s double shift.

That’s in the Soviet Union. To speak of other Eastern European countries, I want to borrow the authority of Czechoslovak-born supermodel Paulina Porizkova:

In Czechoslovakia, women came home from a long day of work to cook, clean and serve their husbands. In return, those women were cajoled, ignored and occasionally abused, much like domestic animals. But they were mentally unstable domestic animals, like milk cows that could go berserk you if you didn’t know exactly how to handle them.

That’s also from a New York Times op-ed, by the way.

There’s an old Soviet joke describing the Soviet workplace: “We pretend that we work, and they pretend that they pay us”. Many families found it impossible to make the ends meet on the government salary alone and turned to black market gigs to supplement their incomes. In the late 80’s in particular, when, due to poor Soviet management, the country was hit with inflation, it wasn’t unusual for women to work triple shifts: one at the government work, another at a paid gig, and then a third one at home.

Ghodsee insists that her informant in Bulgaria, a typical Bulgarian lady, presumably, was able to earn enough working a government job, and, even though she was a single mother, she didn’t need a man to support her. She felt free to pursue romance. Interesting. It must had been very different in Bulgaria.

When middle class American families occupy stand-alone houses with yards, Soviet families lived in overcrowded high rises with in-laws and, quite often, roommate families. Communal living was typical, apartment shortage — common. I suppose communal apartments presented their own opportunities for amorous exploits, though I’m not sure it counts for better sex life.

The crown jewel of today’s mainstream feminism is abortion. Soviet women had lots and lots of them, the official number was between 6 and 7 over a woman’s lifetime, but that was largely because Soviet women couldn’t figure out how, even with both parents and four grandparents working around the clock, to feed another mouth. In other words, nothing to celebrate.

Abortion wasn’t free — not exactly. Illegal And semi-legal abortions were expensive and unsafe. If a woman wanted a safe abortion with anesthesia, she’d have to bribe a doctor. In the novel The Free World Canadian writer David Bezmozgis writes about a Soviet Jewish family immigrating to the West. One of his subplots involves a woman pressured into abortion by her boyfriend who then pays for it with a jar of caviar. It’s a rare literary treatment of a common Soviet malady, and the one done with an anthropologist’s eye, and after extensive interviews of Russian emigres in Canada.

It’s true that the government provided for education (not counting the bribes for college admissions, grades, etc.) and arranged employment. However, with the government bureaucracy in charge of the process, the people didn’t have very much input in the process. Soviet women ended up in jobs they didn’t particularly like or want, and even if they put a high priority on personal life and would have preferred to stay home with their children, they weren’t able to. Additionally, since it was widely believed that women were too distracted by family, and were generally inferior to men, therefore managerial roles and prestigious positions were typically reserved for the stronger sex.

Our mothers did have arrangements to drop us off in government pre-schools once their maternity leaves ran out. Maternity leaves were generous to be sure, nine months, if I remember correctly. Unfortunately, one problem with any maternity leave is that, unless it extends to high school graduation, it’s never generous enough.

I remember really wanting to go to a pre-school when I was three, and then hating it as soon as I started. I hated everything about it: the gross food they served, the bullies running amok, the long naptime, the teachers’ favorites, having to sit at the desk with some boy who was assigned to me as a partner. That was happening in one of the best pre-schools in our city in the late 1970’s.

Corporal punishment was widespread. One of the teachers once slapped me so hard for not wanting to eat their soup, my nose bled. Bright red drops were floating in the bowl. When I told my mom about it a few years ago, she was flabbergasted and asked how come I didn’t tell her at the time. Soviet mothers didn’t know that five-year-old kids don’t tell on adults. Nobody educated them to be good consumers of childcare — or good consumers of anything.

So, yes, on paper Soviet Union looked great for women: education, work, more work, some more work, abortion, leaving kids in an institution that wouldn’t be allowed to operate in the United States. Wonderful. Go out and pleasure yourself.

I’m surprised that Ghodsee, a Berkeley-trained anthropologist, took Soviet propaganda textbook for background information instead of looking into a more people-centered social history, or even taking a folkloric approach, like scrutinizing Soviet jokes.

Hindsight Through Rose-Colored Glasses

Ghodsee interviewed several women who waxed nostalgic about their sex lives “under” socialism and pitied their daughters who, they said, are too tired and too busy for sexual fulfillment. As a student of Socialist nostalgia Ghodsee should know: memories are imprecise and selective. To quote an old Russian song: “When we were young and spewed beautiful nonsense, blue fountains splashed and red roses bloomed.”

We in the Soviet Union didn’t necessarily know we had sex at all, let alone that we had better sex.

In the late 80’s, during Perestroika, US-Soviet TV bridges with live audience in the USSR on one end and the US on the other became popular. Or at least they were popular on the Soviet side. There was a group of Soviets and a group of Americans, all ordinary people, presumably, discussing their concerns on live TV. During one such broadcast personal life was the subject matter, and when the discussion turned to intimacy, one very Soviet middle age lady named Ludmila Ivanova got up and said: “There’s no sex in our country!”

Younger generations could not stop laughing, naturally. I’m sure Mrs. Ivanova had plenty of sex in her own time, she just didn’t know what the word meant, or she wanted to impress on American audiences that there was no pornography in the Soviet Union.

There was a lot of odd modesty, if we can even call it that. For instance, young women wearing something showy, and not necessarily even “slutty”, could rely on being berated by some babushkas sitting on a bench in the courtyard of their apartments. On the other hand, parents were too shy to have a birds and bees talks until it was too late — if ever.

None of it prevented loose behavior, of course. In part, because Soviet-style modesty lacked a tangible enforcement mechanism, in part because alcoholism contributed to loosening of sexual mores and in part as an escape from the public and political.  Either way, Soviet teens were sex-crazed, and shotgun weddings were a norm.

I’m not sure how accurate a comparative a single sociological study of female orgasm in East and West Germany can possibly be, and why it should be projected into the whole Eastern Europe. But if the female “other” behind the Iron Curtain enjoyed a better sex life, it’s probably not because of some sort of superior socialist organization, but because we had more constraints on sex while the West was liberated.

Ghodsee’s best source, a Bulgarian woman named Ana Duracheva said: “The Republic (misnomer for the socialist Bulgaria) gave me my freedom, Democracy took some of that freedom away.” And that is just sad. Here in America no political entity gives us freedom; liberty is God-given. Some in Eastern Europe don’t get it. No wonder they are nostalgic for the “good old days” of socialism. What a care-free serfdom it was!

Some Americans don’t get it either, which is a much, much bigger problem.

[Featured Image: Screen Grab Soviet Film Little Vera]


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Liberals are crazy.

After all those stories about Russian women standing in line for hours to get a lipstick.
Hendrick Smith used to tell the story about joking about his Russian handlers, some of whom were women, about how plain they looked. One of the women handlers responded with .. do you know how long I would have to stand in line to get a lipstick .. and why would she waste all that time just to make a bunch of rude Western journalists happy

Who cares

He discovered that Mead was hoaxed by two Samoan girls who span tall tales about their sexual escapades.

He did? You must find Freeman’s work more convincing than I do. I consider him a fruitbat. Not necessarily wrong, but definitely not entitled to any benefits of doubt. I’m no huge fan of Mead, either; she certainly made some blunders. But she wasn’t a fruitbat.

As someone who has lived in China and Russia(Before and after the wall fell), Dated and been intimate with women in both countries I can tell you that the entire premise of this article is absolutely false.

In Russia 70% of the men are alcoholics. In both countries the people are so poor women will put up with just about anything for financial security.

The NY times is as transparent a joke as Airhead-Cortez.

Does anybody by NPCs take it seriously?


First, leftist women cut-off the truth. Then their allies the Islamists, cut off-their clitorises:

The alarming rise of female genital mutilation in America:

Presentation is all it takes. Make it attractive and accessible and you will have done what Satan did in Eden.

Working an official job, earning the official pay, should have been enough to survive — if you could buy what you needed at the official prices. But you couldn’t. My father’s recollection is of a time when the official salary was 300 rubles a month, and the black market price for a loaf of bread was 100 rubles. The official bakeries, where bread was quite affordable, never had any in stock. It all went out the back door, the official price was deposited in the bank, and the rest was split between the workers.

DouglasJBender | December 2, 2018 at 2:00 am

So when will we see sex become an Olympic sport? Only when Russia defeats the U.S. and takes the gold in Synchronized Sex will I admit that sex under Communism is better than it is in capitalist America.

At this point can we all just admit “science” has been compromised by politics? The Left is using it just like the Soviets did in Russia- to push a communist agenda.

Governments are broke so they need to find a way to get more out of the citizens, hopefully willingly, so they push “global warming” to create a carbon tax.

Governments, the elites, push certain agendas in order to create more workers – immigration. Thus they also push narratives anyone with half a brain realizes are lies.

Here, the governments, which like central control, push that when governments control everything your sex life is better- another lie.

I simply refuse to listen anymore to anything that isn’t just common sense.

Some government nerd claims something I look at it with open eyes and usually find they have it wrong.

Like all the Chinese women forced to have abortions because they already reached their limit on one child? If there was a woman other than Mrs. Mao who had an impact on China, I missed it.

So, in a nutshell, the Robin Williams movie, “Moscow on the Hudson” was a more accurate portrayal of Soviet life than the research of Ghodsee?

That is why anthropology is a soft “science,” a laughingstock to those in the hard sciences. Crap like that just cheapens doctorates.

Don’t forget that Cuba has the best medical system in the world. </sarc>

    Milwaukee in reply to Milhouse. | December 2, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    Michael Moore’s film extolling the evils of health care under capitalism, and the wonders of health care under socialism, was banned in Cuba. The wonderful stuff was for the elites. The vast majority got really crappy, s-hole country health care. The rulers didn’t want the masses to have that demonstrably proven.

Remember when we called them “Godless Communists”? I do. They were, and still are.

Early on the Soviet Union liberalized divorce and abortion laws, where better than 90% of Soviet children were brought up in single-mom households. Fathers were separated from their children by divorce. Fatherless children are more easily manipulated by the state. I suspect the rush of support for same-sex marriage is part of the desire to destroy traditional marriage and families.

Before the 1930 Lambeth Conference, the vast majority of Protestants agreed with Catholic Church teaching: the marriage act was procreation, they joined with the Holy Spirit to create a new person with a unique soul, who could one day join the Father in Heaven for eternity. At that conference the Anglican Church formally declared that sex could be both creational and recreational. The emphasis more and more since then is on the recreational. If all a man is doing is ejaculating, then what difference does it make, his wife, his girlfriend, his friend’s wife, a prostitute, another man, his hand, whatever? But if he is becoming one body with his loving spouse, and open to new life, then that has sacred meaning. The left, and communism, has been at war with the family for a long time.

What the Church taught, and I believe, is that at the moment of conception the Creator of the Universe stops what he is doing to give that new person a unique soul. God wants Heaven to be full of saints in eternity, and he has asked us to help create new souls. Curious. But he only wants in heaven those who, of their free will, choose to love him. Will you find your name written in the Book of Life? I hope to find mine there.

    Milhouse in reply to Milwaukee. | December 3, 2018 at 3:17 am

    If sex is not supposed to be recreational, then once a wife can no longer have children she and her husband should stop having it. And postmenopausal women, as well as all sterile people, should not be allowed to marry. Are you sure you want to go there?

      Valerie in reply to Milhouse. | December 3, 2018 at 5:33 am

      Sex is recreational, and for that reason it is the basis for the human pair bond. The human pair bond is arguably the basic unit for civilization.

      juliathemechanic in reply to Milhouse. | December 3, 2018 at 2:59 pm

      Sex is whatever you want it to be in a free country. In a Socailist country it’s what the government says it will be. Why would it even enter your mind that government regulation would have anything to do with sex? As for getting permission to marry, that’s a Socailsit thing too. The only reason marriage licenses exist in America is because the progressive Socialist Democrats wanted to make sure that white people weren’t marrying blacks. Socialism is just another word for slavery.

      Milwaukee in reply to Milhouse. | December 4, 2018 at 12:24 am

      “If sex is not supposed to be recreational, …”

      The point trying to be made is that the Church would argue against sex only for recreation, and not open to creating new life.

      Yes, sexual vaginal intercourse between husband and wife is meant to be pleasurable, but also meant to be open to new life.

      The teaching of the Church, as I understand it, is sex is not to be exclusively recreational, as recreational sex would mean contraceptives and trying to deny the creation of new life. Yes, of course, there is a great deal in physical and emotional pleasure in married couples and their one body-unions. The recreational is there, just not exclusively only recreational. The postmenopausal woman can be open to the creation of new life. There are women who thought they couldn’t have children who have.

The secret to a good sex life is to marry someone you love and stay married. Socialism? No thanks, I’ll pass.

juliathemechanic | December 3, 2018 at 2:56 pm

Nothing improves your sex life like having your husband thrown in the gulag.

a man is not complete until he is married.
then, he’s finished.

husbands don’t live longer than wives: it just seems that way.

why do husbands die before their wives?
they can.

there is one food in the world that will completely and permanently destroy a woman’s desire for sex.

wedding cake.

why is the woman always smiling at her wedding?