Worth a Read: Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism

By Kirsten Ghodsee

Bodley Head Publications

If you think this is a story with steamy descriptions of Soviet spies turning capitalist men in the USA to spy for the Russian regime, or the story of woman’s liberation from the clutches of the Iron Curtain, it is neither.

In this book Kirsten Ghodsee explores several different avenues which makes the book neither economic textbook, polemic memoir or political manifesto: it is all three.

Ghodsee explores women’s access to economic independence, and liberation of patriarchal society with great passion and also shows her expertise as a researcher in this area. She uses personal experiences to explain her well presented antidotes of how women in modern day capitalist society can learn from the rights women held in the socialist societies of the past.

She doesn’t pull any punches on history and is honest and up front about the Soviet regimes downfalls. By doing this she can explore the finer details and look for gems in the sea of broken grey soviet concrete. She explores the build up to the creation of the Soviet union and how women demanded and accomplished a more equal standing to their male counterparts.

The chapters on the divide of Germany, following the Second World War, are very enlightening and help make the point that is in the title. She compares East and West German women, and their experiences before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall. My favourite part is the West German men and their surprise reaction to the East German women. Their money could not sway them into bed.

Later Ghodsee reviews how capitalism has failed to emulate many of these rights and how it has created new barriers today. She then goes on to discuss how women face economic dependence and what this means for womens’ freedom. She then starts to use an economic model to base her arguments on. However, this is the part of the book that I did not find fully convincing as she uses a model that she appears to have reservations about. She was trying to make a point on an emotional and a logical level. By trying to do both, I feel she does not fully reach the point that she wanted to make. The emotional argument with good reasoning and evidence was more than enough to convince me.

Overall, this book is definitely worth reading for anybody that wants to help, or understand, female oppression in capitalist society. It explains how we can learn from, the albeit dark, history of communism and socialism in Russia and Eastern Europe to help gain equality for all genders.

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