Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism Book Summary - Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism Book explained in key points
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Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism summary

Kristen Ghodsee

And Other Arguments for Economic Independence

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    Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism
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    “Socialism” can mean state socialism or democratic socialism, and we can learn from one while aiming for the other. 

    What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “socialism?” Is it a nightmarish, totalitarian regime, like something out of a dystopian novel? An imaginary utopia where everyone is free and happy? A Cold War-era state like East Germany? Or a present-day country like Denmark? 

    The word “socialism” can refer to all of these things and more, so before we dive into an argument in favor of it, let’s first clarify what we mean by it. 

    The key message here is: “Socialism” can mean state socialism or democratic socialism, and we can learn from one while aiming for the other. 

    People can dream up any society they want and call it “socialist,” but as far as real socialist societies go, these have historically come in two basic varieties. First up, we have state socialism. The most obvious examples are the USSR and the other Eastern and Central European countries that identified themselves as “Communist” states during the Cold War. Collectively known as the Eastern Bloc, they included Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and East Germany. 

    While they differed in many ways and evolved over time, these societies shared some key traits. Each of them was a one-party, authoritarian state that limited people’s political freedom and controlled the economy through state-run enterprises and top-down economic planning. 

    In contrast, there’s democratic socialism, which we can see at work in the contemporary Scandinavian countries of Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland. Unlike state socialism, these countries have democratic governments, with multiple political parties competing in free and fair elections. Not only do they respect their citizens’ political rights, but they go even further by trying to ensure that everyone enjoys a decent standard of living. To do that, they have generous social welfare systems, which help people meet their needs in areas such as housing, healthcare, and education. 

    The argument we’re going to be looking at is essentially advocating for democratic socialism, not state socialism. That being said, there are also many lessons we can learn from the latter. 

    Yes, the USSR and Eastern Bloc countries had many shortcomings, and they did many horrible things: labor camps, secret police, food shortages, you name it. But, as we’ll see, they also had some positive aspects, especially in the area of advancing women’s rights. In designing policies for the future of our own societies, we can take the good things from state socialism while leaving behind the bad. 

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    What is Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism about?

    Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism (2018) makes an argument that’s even more provocative than its title suggests. More than just better sex, it claims that women have better lives in general under socialism. To prove this claim, it compares and contrasts women’s lives under state socialism, democratic socialism, and neoliberal capitalism. 

    Who should read Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism?

    • Socialists wanting ammunition for their next argument 
    • Capitalists wanting food for thought 
    • Women and men wanting a fresh take on gender equality

    About the Author

    Kristen R. Ghodsee is a professor of Russian and East European Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She has conducted extensive research on gender, socialism, and post-socialist life in Eastern Europe, and has written six scholarly books on these topics. She has also written articles and essays for publications such as The New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Jacobin, and Dissent. 

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