Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Communism and Feminism

Trying to lure women into the Communist movement Friedrich Engels promised them the world. If only we can overcome the demonic power of the family, private property and the state, he said, women would become free and independent, liberated from their dependence on men, and thus … hold on to your hats … would have more better sex.

Some people will not like the locution, but Engels was certainly one of the most important founding fathers of contemporary feminism. Inexplicably, his influence and importance is often overlooked.

It was mentioned in passing, however, by Prof. Kristen Ghodsee in her New York Times article on how Communism liberated women. You see, the Times has been celebrating the anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution by running a series of columns glorifying the killing machine that was Communist governance.

Few forms of governance have produced more calamity, more poverty, more starvation, more misery and more oppression than Communism. Yet, the Times, in a sign that it completely lacks moral clarity, is trying to make totalitarian imperialistic Communism seem like human progress.

It is cognitive dissonance run amok. To take an obvious example, Ghodsee thrills to the fact that Communists were among the first to give women the right to vote. Of course, she does not bother to point out that people who were effectively enslaved under Communist rule—especially in Eastern Europe— had no elections. Bulgaria did not become Communist because he people voted for it. The same pertains to the enslaved nations in Eastern Europe. In truth, no Communist nation ever held free elections. You have the right to vote but you cannot use it. 

It is historical dereliction. People who lived under Communism, who were enslaved by Communism, who starved under Communism have no interest in going back.

And yet, Ghodsee finds a silver lining in it all. Women who were enslaved by Communism had better sex lives. They had more orgasms. It reminds us of the words of Marie Antoinette: Let them eat cake. The peasants had no bread, so the princess offered them brioches. I know that it’s not the same as cake. And I also know that many dispute the fact that she said it at all.

Ghodsee waxes poetic about how great it is in the feminist paradise of the captive nations of Eastern Europe:

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. But there’s one advantage that has received little attention: Women under Communism enjoyed more sexual pleasure.

A comparative sociological study of East and West Germans conducted after reunification in 1990 found that Eastern women had twice as many orgasms as Western women. Researchers marveled at this disparity in reported sexual satisfaction, especially since East German women suffered from the notorious double burden of formal employment and housework. In contrast, postwar West German women had stayed home and enjoyed all the labor-saving devices produced by the roaring capitalist economy. But they had less sex, and less satisfying sex, than women who had to line up for toilet paper.

If this is true—and one has no real reason to believe that it is—why were so many people so desirous of overcoming their enslavement? If someone were to say that slaves had better sex than free people, what would the good professor say about that?

It’s always nice to have an anecdote, so Ghodsee offers one:

Consider Ana Durcheva from Bulgaria, who was 65 when I first met her in 2011. Having lived her first 43 years under Communism, she often complained that the new free market hindered Bulgarians’ ability to develop healthy amorous relationships.

“Sure, some things were bad during that time, but my life was full of romance,” she said. “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.”

The Worker’s Paradise was also a Feminist Paradise. Durcheva could have quoting the promise offered by Engels. Divorce, single parenthood, and ability to do as she pleased…. Paradise on earth. 

As it happened, Engels suggested that in a pre-patriarchal time women could do exactly as they pleased. They could have all the sex they wanted with whomever they wanted. He believed that women really want promiscuity, but compromised their lust in order to provide their children with fathers.

One does not consider oneself to be an authority on the topic, but do women really want to do whatever they please, regardless of the consequences. Are they all lusting after promiscuity? Can’t we give women a little more credit than that?

As it happens, some women who were raised in Communist societies are having difficulty adjusting to capitalism. One notes that such seems not to be the case in Asia, but the author never considers such facts.

Communism enacted the feminist agenda. If it did, it makes you wonder about the feminist agenda. Ghodsee explains:

Russia extended full suffrage to women in 1917, three years before the United States did. The Bolsheviks also liberalized divorce laws, guaranteed reproductive rights and attempted to socialize domestic labor by investing in public laundries and people’s canteens. Women were mobilized into the labor force and became financially untethered from men.

Mobilized is a polite word. Women were forced into the labor force. They had no right to exercise their freedom to choose. They were treated like slaves.

Naturally, Ghodsee has no problem with forcing women to do something that they do not want to do. And yet, as I mentioned yesterday, the notion that anyone should have the right to force women to do something that they do not want to do lays down a predicate that opens the door to many other forms of abuse.

So, the New York Times, leading the Resistance to Donald Trump, never daring to say a positive word about the duly elected president of the United States, waxes nostalgic for Communism.

Marian Tupy responded to Ghodsee in Human Progress:

I would have chosen to commemorate 100 years since the Bolshevik Revolution and the birth of the Soviet Union in a different way. Over 100,000,000 people have died or were killed while building socialism during the course of the 20th century. Call me crazy, but that staggering number of victims of communism seems to me more important than the somewhat dubious claim that Bulgarian comrades enjoyed more orgasms than women in the West. But as one Russian babushka said to another, suum cuique pulchrum est. 

Complete misery and economic failure. No problem. Women in these slave states had more orgasms.

Keep in mind, tens of millions of people starved to death in Mao’s China. After thirty years of Communism the extreme poverty rate in China was over 80%. Extreme poverty meant living on less than $1.85 a day… in today’s dollars.

Tupy reminds us of the famines that occurred in Stalin’s Soviet Union. She recalls when starving parents ate their children in the Ukraine in the 1930s. Was it a liberating experience? Why should we respect a professor who functions like a propagandist for a failed political system?

She quotes an eyewitness to the forced collectivization of the Ukraine:

Where did all bread disappear, I do not really know, maybe they have taken it all abroad. The authorities have confiscated it, removed from the villages, loaded grain into the railway coaches and took it away someplace. They have searched the houses, taken away everything to the smallest thing. All the vegetable gardens, all the cellars were raked out and everything was taken away. Wealthy peasants were exiled into Siberia even before Holodomor during the 'collectivization.' Communists came, collected everything....People were laying everywhere as dead flies. The stench was awful. Many of our neighbors and acquaintances from our street died....Some were eating their own children. I would have never been able to eat my child. One of our neighbors came home when her husband, suffering from severe starvation, ate their own baby daughter. This woman went crazy.

Do you think that these women were having better sex? Were they having more orgasms?

Since Tupy grew up in a Communist culture, she explains what it was like.

First, all communist countries were run by men; female leaders, like Margaret Thatcher and Golda Meir, would have been unthinkable….

Second, the author concedes that "gender wage disparities and labor segregation persisted, and...the communists never fully reformed domestic patriarchy." I would say so. In a typical Eastern European family, the woman, in addition to having a day job at a factory, was expected to clean the apartment, shop for food, cook dinner, and raise the children….

Third, communist societies were socially uber-conservative. As such, pornography and prostitution were strictly prohibited, divorces were discouraged and divorced people ostracized, and prophylactics and the pill were hard to obtain….

The sad part is that our scholars are still debating Communism. People are starving in Venezuela today and scholars are defending Communism. The only people who are nostalgic for Communism are those who did not have to live under it.


Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Venezuela is merely the latest horror show, with more to come. Sentimental thoughts about communism demonstrate a kindergarten mentality: "All I really ever needed to know I learned in kindergarten, and I've learned nothing since."

n.n said...

Each political/social philosophy is responsible for tens of millions aborted, ironically under a legal regime of privacy, and deprived of human rights.

Sam L. said...

Don't forget it, Stu, even though it is NYT-city. (And they wonder why the rest of America despises them.)

Anonymous said...

It's amazing the mental gymnastics they go thru to appeal to the lowly peasants in selling their snake oil. If sloth, greed and envy don't work, let's try lust.