If you’re disappointed to discover that Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism isn’t a new gambit from Cosmo to woo you into buying the latest utilitarian sex toy, then I’m sorry. However, if women’s economic independence and sexual freedom is your bag then strap in. In her new book, academic Kristen R. Ghodsee charts the rise and fall of state socialism in an attempt to apply successful egalitarian policies to our own increasingly unsustainable capitalist society. But what does socialism have to do with our sex lives? Well, the redistributive initiatives from the soviet era were impressive even by modern standards. How does full paid parental leave, job assurance, subsidised childcare and access to free post-secondary education and healthcare sound? Pretty dreamy huh. While Ghodsee is quick to point out the downfalls of communism, her research does uncover how gender equality legislation in the Eastern Bloc enabled women to flourish under a socialist economy. In fact, women in East Germany were found to be 30% more sexually satisfied than their West German capitalist counterparts as late as 1990. Socialism didn’t just smash the homemaker model perpetuated by the West by propelling women into the workplace, it gave them back autonomy over their relationships, bodies and sexuality too. Ghodsee’s core argument that capitalism uniquely disadvantages women is one that sticks. Her theory feels resilient in the face of today’s political and economic climate as the lines of democracy blur. The capitalist onus on profit over people is slowly eroding the vital social support systems that underpin women’s economic independence. You only have to look at the number of mothers who are unable to return to work because of the cost of child care to see how the lack of public spending in these areas is already affecting women’s autonomy. Ghodsee’s book is a clear call to arm to reassess the role of the unfettered free market in our collective future. As Western politics becomes more polarized, it’s up to us to push for a just and equal society. Where capitalism continues to fail us with restrictive and regressive policies, perhaps socialism holds some of the answers.
Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism, Kristen R Ghodsee. Penguin, 2018