NY Times Op-Ed: Women Had Better Sex Under Communist Regimes

Passengers traveling on a bus in Leningrad, former Soviet Union, circa 1968 / Getty
• August 14, 2017 11:42 am


New York Times op-ed published Saturday hyped the quality of sex women enjoyed living in communist countries during the Cold War.

"Why Women Had Better Sex Under Socialism," argued Kristen R. Ghodsee, a professor of Russian and East European studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

Ghodsee wrote that it is a "collective stereotype" that "does not tell the whole story" for Americans to view life in the Communist bloc in Easter Europe as "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."

"Some might remember 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," she continued.

"But there's one advantage that has received little attention: Women under communism enjoyed more sexual pleasure."

Ghodsee cited a 1990 study that found West German women had only half as many orgasms as their East German counterparts. She also interviewed former Eastern bloc women who fondly remember all those communist orgasms.

"Sure, some things were bad during that time, but my life was full of romance," remarked a 65-year-old Bulgarian woman. "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."

Agnieszka Koscianska, a professor of anthropology at the University of Warsaw, told Ghodsee that pre-1989 Polish sexologists said that sex is not limited to "bodily experiences" and "social and cultural contexts for sexual pleasure" need to be taken into account.

"Even the best stimulation, they argued, will not help to achieve pleasure if a woman is stressed or overworked, worried about her future and financial stability," Koscianska said.

State socialism, therefore, was the answer to a healthier work-life balance, which helped lead to better sex, Ghodsee argued.

The Bulgarian woman fretted that her daughter is now less happy in a new, capitalist Bulgaria, with less leisure time.

"All she does is work and work, and when she comes home at night she is too tired to be with her husband," she said. "But it doesn't matter, because he is tired, too. They sit together in front of the television like zombies. When I was her age, we had much more fun."

Published under: Communism, New York Times, Women