A spirited, deeply researched exploration of why capitalism is bad for women and how, when done right, socialism leads to economic independence, better labor conditions, better work-life balance and, yes, even better sex.
In a witty, irreverent op-ed piece that went viral, Kristen Ghodsee argued that women had better sex under socialism. The response was tremendous — clearly she articulated something many women had sensed for years: the problem is with capitalism, not with us.
Ghodsee, an acclaimed ethnographer and professor of Russian and East European Studies, spent years researching what happened to women in countries that transitioned from state socialism to capitalism. She argues here that unregulated capitalism disproportionately harms women, and that we should learn from the past. By rejecting the bad and salvaging the good, we can adapt some socialist ideas to the 21st century and improve our lives.
She tackles all aspects of a woman’s life – work, parenting, sex and relationships, citizenship, and leadership. In a chapter called “Women: Like Men, But Cheaper,” she talks about women in the workplace, discussing everything from the wage gap to harassment and discrimination. In “What To Expect When You’re Expecting Exploitation,” she addresses motherhood and how “having it all” is impossible under capitalism.
Women are standing up for themselves like never before, from the increase in the number of women running for office to the women’s march to the long-overdue public outcry against sexual harassment. Interest in socialism is also on the rise – whether it’s the popularity of Bernie Sanders or the skyrocketing membership numbers of the Democratic Socialists of America. It’s become increasingly clear to women that capitalism isn’t working for us, and Ghodsee is the informed, lively guide who can show us the way forward.
Kristen R. Ghodsee has her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley and is professor of Russian and East European Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She has written six books on gender, socialism, and post-socialism in Eastern Europe, examining the everyday experiences of upheaval and displacement that followed the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Ghodsee also writes on women’s issues for the Chronicle of Higher Education and is the co-author of Professor Mommy: Finding Work-Family Balance in Academia. Her articles and essays have appeared in publications such as Eurozine, Dissent, Foreign Affairs, Jacobin, and the New York Times.