Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism | Kristen R. Ghodsee

Summary of: Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism: And Other Arguments for Economic Independence
By: Kristen R. Ghodsee


In the book ‘Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism: And Other Arguments for Economic Independence’, Kristen R. Ghodsee explores the idea that socialism, particularly democratic socialism, has resulted in greater gender equality and economic independence for women, and in turn, improved their romantic relationships and sex lives. The book touches on how state socialism historically provided women with career opportunities and benefits, such as access to education, childcare, and healthcare. Ghodsee also examines the shortcomings of capitalism and neoliberalism, where women face wage disparity, glass ceilings, and the burden of unpaid care work. The author looks at the experience of women living under state socialism in East Germany, comparing their lives to those living under capitalism in West Germany.

Understanding Socialism

Socialism refers to state socialism or democratic socialism. State socialism is characterized by one-party authoritarian state, while democratic socialism is visible in Scandinavian countries, which respect their citizens’ political and social rights. The book argues in favor of democratic socialism but also acknowledges the positive aspects of state socialism, particularly in advancing women’s rights. It calls for incorporating the good aspects of state socialism while avoiding the bad in designing policies for the future of society.

The Other Side of State Socialism

Under state socialism, women benefited from policies that promoted their inclusion in the economy, resulting in their domination in fields such as science, engineering, technology, medicine, law, and academia. These policies provided women with access to education, opportunities for career advancement, and economic independence. While acknowledging the negative aspects, the author aims to round out the picture of the USSR and Eastern Bloc.

Statistical Discrimination and the Vicious Cycle of Women’s Economic Dependence

Many women who become mothers drop out of the workforce and become economically dependent on men. Statistical discrimination leads to women being paid less than men on average, as employers make assumptions about their likelihood of quitting their jobs due to childbirth. This creates a vicious cycle where women are paid even less, making it financially sensible for them to quit their jobs and take care of their children, further entrenching the perception that women are more likely to quit their jobs and their economic dependence on men.

Economic Challenges Faced by Women

Women’s economic situations face disruptions and double burdens under capitalism due to their primary caregiver roles at home.

Social phenomena is often complicated, and it is challenging to arrive at simple explanations. The economic situation of women working in capitalist societies is no exception. The more we delve into it, the more complicated it becomes, and various reasons present the challenges that women face in the economy.

A significant takeaway from these challenges is that there are work disruptions and double burdens that women encounter while working in the capitalist system. Returning to work after some time away can be challenging. Parents who have to juggle child-rearing and work responsibilities can attest to this fact. Women usually carry the double burden of working as the primary caregiver and finishing their job commitments daily. Statistics indicate that women bear more child-rearing responsibilities than men. This reality means that women are more likely to leave work than men to cater to their children’s needs or work with no sleep.

As a result, many women end up burned out and unable to deliver their best work at their jobs. Naturally, employers may view them as less dependable, resulting in statistical discrimination. These challenges show that women face difficulties working in capitalist societies, and addressing them head-on will go a long way in achieving equality for all genders in the workforce.

The Reality of Résumé Gaps for Working Mothers

Working mothers face a tough choice between paying for expensive private daycare to avoid résumé gaps or quitting their jobs and suffering the consequences. When mothers take a break to take care of their children, they stop earning income, advancing in their careers, and gaining work experience, all of which contribute to the pay gap and lack of women in leadership positions. Employers don’t look kindly on résumé gaps and often offer lower positions or salaries to women who return to work after taking a break. Private daycare is not a perfect solution as it can be expensive and still require mothers to be the primary caretakers outside of work hours. Ultimately, under capitalism, mothers face the challenge of balancing work and family and avoiding the consequences of résumé gaps.

The Impact of Neoliberalism on Women

The book explains how neoliberalism creates an unfair choice for women in the workforce, forcing them to depend on private employers and market forces. Neoliberalism promotes free-market capitalism by reducing regulations, cutting back on public services, and encouraging privatization. As a result, women have to deal with negative consequences such as the pay gap and statistical discrimination, which makes them economically dependent on male partners. The absence of government intervention worsens the situation, and the book highlights how neoliberal policies affect the lives of American working women.

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