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Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism: And Other Arguments for Economic Independence

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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 — clearl 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.


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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 — clearl 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.

30 review for Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism: And Other Arguments for Economic Independence

  1. 5 out of 5

    Quin Rich

    As an avowed Marxist feminist, I found this to be an utterly infuriating text. Ghodsee is an academic historian who has written a popular press book that seeks to dispel some widespread myths about the horrors of Eastern European state socialism. She does this with the explicit aim of opening up space in contemporary US political discourse for consideration of how more redistributive and regulatory economic policies would be good for women. All of this is seemingly laudable. The problem comes wh As an avowed Marxist feminist, I found this to be an utterly infuriating text. Ghodsee is an academic historian who has written a popular press book that seeks to dispel some widespread myths about the horrors of Eastern European state socialism. She does this with the explicit aim of opening up space in contemporary US political discourse for consideration of how more redistributive and regulatory economic policies would be good for women. All of this is seemingly laudable. The problem comes when Ghodsee actually begins her analysis. In a book about socialism and feminism, there is hardly a single mention of working class women’s activism. In fact, Ghodsee dedicates an entire chapter to how state socialist regimes promoted women into their highest ranks as powerful leaders. She does this to make a point about how young girls in capitalist societies need to see powerful women in order to be inspired to become leaders themselves. This is just unreconstructed neoliberal, lean in codswallop! The point of socialist feminism is that getting a few privileged, elite women into powerful roles does nothing for the vast majority of women. Consistently as well Ghodsee makes asinine comments about how socialism is basically just an expanded welfare states with markets and private control of the economy still intact. Because Ghodsee’s reference points for socialism are Eastern Bloc countries and Scandinavia, she offers a distorted picture of what socialism actually is. If you want to know about actual alternatives to capitalism, you will not find them in this book. Indeed, Ghodsee has been made into something of a spokesperson for socialism in US media despite the fact that she has fairly centrist politics and a demonstrated lack of familiarity with socialist feminist theory and activism. Her frankly random choice of “recommended reading” testifies to this. In summary, it is a real shame that this book will likely be many Americans first sustained introduction to socialist feminism. Ghodsee had an opportunity to make a real intervention, but she instead wasted it by telling her more radical readers to take the capitalist rag “Reason” seriously as a source for information. Ghodsee presents a world where the alternative to capitalism is slightly more regulated capitalism, and where political activism takes the form of voting instead of collective action. Don’t waste your time on this if you are already somewhat sympathetic to socialism. Read Silvia Federici’s “Revolution at Point Zero” instead. If you are not already sympathetic to socialism, then perhaps Ghodsee’s confused and overly conciliatory treatise can help guide you away from the echo chamber of capitalist ideology. But even then, Federici would be a better starting point.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Emily May

    When women enjoy their own sources of income, and the state guarantees social security in old age, illness, and disability, women have no economic reason to stay in abusive, unfulfilling, or otherwise unhealthy relationships. 3 1/2 stars. I keep changing my mind about this book. I actually really enjoyed reading it - the author's style was informal and accessible, and it complemented my previous Marxist feminist readings - but I also think it is a little confusing exactly what the author is i When women enjoy their own sources of income, and the state guarantees social security in old age, illness, and disability, women have no economic reason to stay in abusive, unfulfilling, or otherwise unhealthy relationships. 3 1/2 stars. I keep changing my mind about this book. I actually really enjoyed reading it - the author's style was informal and accessible, and it complemented my previous Marxist feminist readings - but I also think it is a little confusing exactly what the author is in favour of. Ghodsee does examine former Soviet countries, looking at data and opinion polls to determine the policies that benefited women*, as well as the ways in which they failed. She states immediately that she is not an apologist for Stalinism; she is well aware of the human rights abuses that took place, and of the myriad ways the Soviet Union failed, but she also believes we can utilize some of the better socialist ideas to make a society which is fairer. Especially for women. Since the middle of the nineteenth century, European social theorists argued that the female sex is uniquely disadvantaged in an economic system that prizes profits and private property over people. Yet, it seems to me that Ghodsee is not really arguing for socialism, as the title and she herself suggest. Or, at least, she does not do so very successfully. The policies that Ghodsee favours are actually more in line with the Nordic model. People often throw around the word "socialism" in relation to Nordic countries, but they are, in fact, capitalist countries with high taxation and publicly-funded programs like free post-secondary education, universal healthcare, and tax-subsidized daycare. I'm a big fan myself. It was nice, though, to see her dispel some of the one-sided myths about former Soviet countries. If you've grown up being taught that everyone under socialism was a prisoner who breathed a dramatic sigh of relief once the Berlin wall fell and free markets rushed in, you should read this book. Or better yet, read more balanced accounts such as Alexievich's Secondhand Time or Drakulic's How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed. It is a complex issue and not every Soviet country was the same. Ghodsee quotes a little Eastern European story/joke that reflects the conflicted feelings of former Soviet citizens: “What’s wrong with you?” her husband says. “What happened?” “I had a terrible nightmare,” she says. “I dreamed that we had the medicine we needed, that our refrigerator was full of food, and that the streets outside were safe and clean.” “How is that a nightmare?” The woman shakes her head and shudders. “I thought the Communists were back in power.” I also enjoyed reading more about sexual economics theory. The "American model" is at odds with women’s emancipation and independence. It makes perfect sense. This winner-takes-all brand of capitalism relies on women putting in hours and hours of unpaid domestic labour and childcare. When women are not financially independent, they are forced to marry and stay with partners they may dislike, find sexually dissatisfying, or are even abusive. I was equally glad that the author discussed how getting women into positions of power is not really the crux of the problem. In fact, I wish she had spent more time on this. While women CEOs and political leaders are important, this is not a reality and therefore not a major concern for the majority of working class and lower middle class women. Far more important is the need for work protections, guaranteed maternity leave and pay, and affordable childcare options. Fixing these roots of the problem would likely lead to more women in higher level jobs anyway. This book is not a whim inspired by Bernie Sanders. Ghodsee has spent twenty years on this subject and she clearly knows it well. I think her conclusion could be stronger and clearer on what she sees as the way forward-- she frequently talks about an "alternative to capitalism", which suggests a whole socialist overhaul of the system, and yet capitalism and all the social benefits she desires are not mutually-exclusive. This quote makes me think that the author sees "capitalism" as synonymous with "plutocracy": The most dangerous enemy of plutocracy is large numbers of citizens working together for a common cause. It’s no coincidence that capitalism thrives on an ideology of self-interest and individualism, and that its defenders will try to discredit collectivist ideals based on altruism and cooperation. Capitalism does not necessarily fail its citizens; plutocracy does. Plutocracy relies on keeping people divided along gender, racial, religious, or other fault lines. Capitalism does not have to be the same thing. You can actually have capitalism and a welfare state. The idea that we have to choose between capitalism and pure socialism is a lie that conservatives tell to scare voters. It's definitely worth a read, but I would bear in mind that when the author says "capitalism", she is speaking about a particularly plutocratic branch of capitalism like the one currently operating in the United States. * Ghodsee acknowledges trans women in her Author's Note and how they were largely excluded from 19th and 20th century discourse. She notes the limitations of the data available and how "women" generally referred to those assigned female at birth. Facebook | Instagram

  3. 4 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    “You are not a commodity. Your depression and anxiety are not just chemical imbalances in your brain but reasonable responses to a system that thrives on your dehumanization.” So, yes, I bought this book because of the title, and at the risk of shocking some of my GR friends, yes, it is preaching to the choir more than a little bit with me, as well as validating some long-held opinions about systemic sexism and why capitalism is a tool of oppression the patricarchy loves to use to their advantage “You are not a commodity. Your depression and anxiety are not just chemical imbalances in your brain but reasonable responses to a system that thrives on your dehumanization.” So, yes, I bought this book because of the title, and at the risk of shocking some of my GR friends, yes, it is preaching to the choir more than a little bit with me, as well as validating some long-held opinions about systemic sexism and why capitalism is a tool of oppression the patricarchy loves to use to their advantage. So sure, the title is meant to get your attention, but let me assure you that you will not be let down by the content. No one had to convince me that savage capitalism is bad for everyone, and especially women, but the way Ghodsee documents and explains the impact of our wealth redistribution system on women’s lives, and the way it systematically devalues them and makes them, more often than not, dependent on men’s wealth for support (if not survival), is morbidly fascinating. Oh, and in case you are wondering, the argument the title makes is that in a capitalist society, everything, including women's sexuality, is a commodity for sale, which means women who are not fully financially independent may find themselves having to settle for less-than satisfying partners in order to ensure their basic needs are met. If women don't have to rely on anyone for their livelihood and support, they are free to pursue love and sex for its own sake rather than using those things as a good to be traded. And yes, there is A LOT of data supporting this. Ghodsee works hard to be fair and nuanced in her argument: she is well-aware that the S-word freaks some people out, and she has obviously had to explain the difference between socialism and totalitarianism too many times (are dictionaries really that hard? Jesus). But neither does she think the Soviet Union got everything right, and she is careful to highlight the good and the bad that we can take away from history in order to think of a better future. Broken into sections that explore working wages, motherhood and its associated responsibilities, women in positions of leadership – and of course, sex, this book takes a look at the history of socialism and feminism, at how often those two ideologies overlap and go hand and hand, as well as comparing how each of the main topics worked out in socialist societies vs. capitalism societies. As mentioned, she does not romanticize the Soviet Union, but shows how some genuine socialist policies not only help women achieve a better quality of life (in general, and sex, as a side-effect), but how that quality of life ends up resonating for the betterment of society in general. While I really enjoyed reading this book (even when it made me want to smack my head against a wall), it’s also obvious that it is a primer on the subject. The arguments are broader than they are deep, and I think part of Ghodsee’s goal was to make her readers curious, to encourage them to dig further into the subject by themselves, as her generous suggested reading list seem to indicate. And that’s fine: realizing that there are alternatives that could work better and that change is possible is an important realization. One can only hope a book like this finds its way in the right hands and inspires people to educate themselves further and take the actions they can to affect change. Very recommended.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ietrio

    Short version: sex was better under socialism for a nut who never lived that. Long version: A mystical preacher talking about Paradise. Under Socialism the woman had both the traditional role - cook, wash, and so on - and the modern role - employee working full time. Food scarcity also meant long queues waiting for food delivery. Poverty meant no washing machine, no dishwasher, everything was done by hand, the diapers also. No hot water meant accidents while moving the boiling water pan from the ki Short version: sex was better under socialism for a nut who never lived that. Long version: A mystical preacher talking about Paradise. Under Socialism the woman had both the traditional role - cook, wash, and so on - and the modern role - employee working full time. Food scarcity also meant long queues waiting for food delivery. Poverty meant no washing machine, no dishwasher, everything was done by hand, the diapers also. No hot water meant accidents while moving the boiling water pan from the kitchen to the bath tub, which was moved into the kitchen if possible. Also some Socialist Countries, like Romania, expressly forbade contraception and most Socialist countries have had strict rules for the abortion. Rape, HIV, and other "shameful" acts were called diseases of the West and were carefully swept under the rug. There were strict rules, most of the time unwritten, of separating the spouses in the work place. And if the man was higher on the hierarchical ladder that meant that the woman was the one left to find a new work place and fast.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lou (nonfiction fiend)

    Award-winning author Kristen Ghodsee has written a handful of books exploring communism, gender and ethnicity, and after appreciating Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism, I will be purchasing her other works to dip in and out of. As soon as I read the synopsis for this, I knew it was right up my street. Having had an issue with capitalism for as long as I can remember, I was not in need of convincing that adopting some socialist principles may be a better option for many people, including Award-winning author Kristen Ghodsee has written a handful of books exploring communism, gender and ethnicity, and after appreciating Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism, I will be purchasing her other works to dip in and out of. As soon as I read the synopsis for this, I knew it was right up my street. Having had an issue with capitalism for as long as I can remember, I was not in need of convincing that adopting some socialist principles may be a better option for many people, including women. However, the fascinating information provided had me completely engaged, and I found it difficult to put it down. I usually take my time with non-fiction but not here! She illustrates that communist ideology could lead to real improvements in women’s literacy, education, professional training, as well as access to health care, the extension of paid maternity leave, and a reduction of their economic dependence on men. I understand that this is a divisive and controversial topic and politics often gets people hot under the collar but we owe it to ourselves to look for a better way instead of just accepting the way society and wealth currently work. Sometimes I find that books such as these waffle on in an incoherent fashion, but I felt the arguments here were easy to understand and to comprehend. There are many examples from communist and post-communist states that back up many of the points she makes. I hope that this book gets the wide readership it deserves as the case it presents is a strong and convincing one. Highly recommended. Many thanks to Bodley Head for an ARC. I was not required to post a review, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Jaffe

    A fun and readable trip through the history of attempts to build an egalitarian society, with humor and a grounding in decades of research.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    Her arguments are 95% emotional, and have already been refuted time and again in anti-socialist literature. I lost count of false equivalencies just within the first chapter. The author doesn't understand what capitalism is (most importantly, *not* the heavily regulated, corporate monopolism we have in the US), or she wouldn't be arguing that it inherently discriminates against mothers. The book was automatically returned to my digital library before I finished it, and I'm not bothering to re-bo Her arguments are 95% emotional, and have already been refuted time and again in anti-socialist literature. I lost count of false equivalencies just within the first chapter. The author doesn't understand what capitalism is (most importantly, *not* the heavily regulated, corporate monopolism we have in the US), or she wouldn't be arguing that it inherently discriminates against mothers. The book was automatically returned to my digital library before I finished it, and I'm not bothering to re-borrow it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    4+ stars A thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening read on the multiple ways women's lives benefit from socialism. Ghodsee was preaching to the choir but her case is incredibly strong and convincing nevertheless, and is backed up with many examples from her research and time spent in Eastern Europe. Highly recommended! Thank you Netgalley and Random House UK / Vintage Publishing for the advance copy, which was provided in exchange for an honest review. 4+ stars A thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening read on the multiple ways women's lives benefit from socialism. Ghodsee was preaching to the choir but her case is incredibly strong and convincing nevertheless, and is backed up with many examples from her research and time spent in Eastern Europe. Highly recommended! Thank you Netgalley and Random House UK / Vintage Publishing for the advance copy, which was provided in exchange for an honest review.

  9. 5 out of 5

    TraceyL

    This was a fascinating read. It's a book about politics which explores if and why women are happier living under socialist/communist governments than they are under capitalist/democratic governments. The author focuses on data collected from Eastern European countries which used to be socialist but are now capitalist. It comes at the question from a lot of different directions. One fact that comes up again and again is that when a profit needs to be made, the first cuts that are made are ones th This was a fascinating read. It's a book about politics which explores if and why women are happier living under socialist/communist governments than they are under capitalist/democratic governments. The author focuses on data collected from Eastern European countries which used to be socialist but are now capitalist. It comes at the question from a lot of different directions. One fact that comes up again and again is that when a profit needs to be made, the first cuts that are made are ones that directly affect women instead of men. My favorite information I learned in this book is what inspired the title. While the Berlin Wall was up and Germany was cut in two, a survey was done among women on both sides of the wall. Although women in the East had arguably more difficult lives, they rated their sex lives much, much higher than the women in the West. This book is full of interesting nuggets like that, and I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in politics or statistics.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    I don't think this is a fully baked book--I wish she would have spent some more time and made it a longer and more fully thought out thesis. As is, I don't think she really supports her thesis. However, this was still an excellent read. The point is obvious, but sometimes forgotten: Women are happier when they are financially independent. They can have better relationships and also better sex. I don't think this is a fully baked book--I wish she would have spent some more time and made it a longer and more fully thought out thesis. As is, I don't think she really supports her thesis. However, this was still an excellent read. The point is obvious, but sometimes forgotten: Women are happier when they are financially independent. They can have better relationships and also better sex.

  11. 4 out of 5

    David

    Reads like a dream - I finished the whole thing in one 2-hour sitting. As in her other works, the author demonstrates a very liberal and anglocentric understanding of capitalism and socialism. That she can nevertheless extract some very telling conclusions about the wellbeing of women under socialism versus their deprivations under capitalism, makes the book all the more valuable. In a couple of neat chapters she empirically settles the record on women civil participation, quality of life, views Reads like a dream - I finished the whole thing in one 2-hour sitting. As in her other works, the author demonstrates a very liberal and anglocentric understanding of capitalism and socialism. That she can nevertheless extract some very telling conclusions about the wellbeing of women under socialism versus their deprivations under capitalism, makes the book all the more valuable. In a couple of neat chapters she empirically settles the record on women civil participation, quality of life, views on relationship, work, childbirth and -rearing, etc. Only Sheila Fitzpatrick's the Cultural Front gave me comparable insights before. 'State socialism' (as opposed to 'democratic socialism', also known as not socialism. But ok ok, US context, carry on) is derided constantly, sometimes confusingly so. After giving multiple material reasons for why the move away from traditional marriages towards women's emancipation was curtailed — opposition from the conservative peasant majority, failure of economic and judicial infrastructure to support alimony and public daycare — she concludes that Stalin simply 'found it easier' to ditch the project. She likewise flings around 'natalist' as an accusatory barb, not taking into account that for the West the demographic context was completely different and the eastern bloc simply had to take difficult decisions. Not going for maximum population growth would have meant limiting the future options the USSR had in defending the revolution, without which no real emancipation was possible anyway. All that notwithstanding, Ghodsee is of an activist bent and her appeals to join a collective struggle for a socialist and feminist future dovetail nicely with the function of the book: an ideological pickaxe with which to break open the debate on class, women and the state once more. Supremely useful, recommended.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I read this book for the Tokyo Feminist book club. 🙂 I doubt I would have read it otherwise because the title would have put me off. OK, so firstly I think about a book about socialism shouldn’t refer to Sweden and Finland as “socialist countries”. They’re social democracies - they're still capitalist countries. In comparison to the US, they're much to the further left of the political spectrum, but I think it's strange to use the Soviet Union and Sweden as your main examples of "socialism" - th I read this book for the Tokyo Feminist book club. 🙂 I doubt I would have read it otherwise because the title would have put me off. OK, so firstly I think about a book about socialism shouldn’t refer to Sweden and Finland as “socialist countries”. They’re social democracies - they're still capitalist countries. In comparison to the US, they're much to the further left of the political spectrum, but I think it's strange to use the Soviet Union and Sweden as your main examples of "socialism" - they don't have that much in common. This is stated at the start of the book: “Throughout this book, I use the term “state socialism” or “state socialist” to refer to the states of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union dominated by ruling Communist Parties where political freedoms were curtailed. I use the term “democratic socialism” or “democratic socialist” to refer to countries where socialist principles are championed by parties that compete in free and fair elections and where political rights are maintained.“ In part of the book, the writer, Kristen R. Ghodsee, talks about a friend of hers, who decided to be a stay-at-home mother. Whilst Ghodsee was working towards tenure as a working mother, her friend Lisa was spending her free time reading novels and exercising whilst her children napped (just to make it sound like being a stay-at-home mom is fun and luxurious). Eventually, Ghodsee earned tenure, released a book and her daughter started school, so her life got less stressful. A few years later, when she is meeting up with Lisa to go to a restaurant, she overhears her arguing with her husband. ““… Please, Bill. It’ll be embarrassing.” “No. You’ve spent enough money this month. I’ll give you the card again after the statement rolls.” “But I shopped for the house and bought clothes for the girls. I didn’t buy anything for me.”” After this, they go to a restaurant, Lisa lies about what she was arguing with her husband about and starts drinking wine. Ghodsee is uncomfortable and offers to pay for dinner, to which Lisa says “Thanks. I’ll fuck him tonight and pay you back tomorrow.” This was meant to be a tale of the dangers of being economically dependant on your husband, but it feels as though she is attacking women’s choice to be stay-at-home mothers. Say for example Lisa divorced her husband, and started working full-time, she has to pay for extremely expensive childcare. Not everyone has that option. The story's message seems to be if you work really hard it'll pay off, and if you stay home with your kids you'll be trapped. “All of the labor she performs caring for their children, organizing their lives, and managing their home is invisible as far as the market is concerned. Lisa receives no wages and contributes no funds toward her own social security in old age. She accumulates no work experience and creates a black hole on her résumé, one that will require explaining away if she ever hopes to rejoin the labor force. She even accesses medical care through her husband’s employer. Everything she has she derives from Bill’s income, and he can deny her access to their joint credit cards at will.” This is a place in the book where I wish there was a better conclusion to end with, I thought there would be focus on the system and how it disadvantages mothers, and places them in the difficult position of having to work, pay for childcare and manage a home, or stay at home and be dependant on their husbands. Instead Ghodsee says she swore to never be in Lisa's position. There’s a lot of interesting ideas here that don't really go anywhere, I was hoping things would tie together and have a good conclusion, so I was disappointed. Especially because she talks a lot about the interconnecting problems that neoliberalism causes. The idea of capitalism being thought of as the only option, similar to the ideas expressed in Mark Fisher's Capitalist Realism: "The erasure of socialist ideas from serious political discourse throughout most of my life wasn’t a historical fluke. The West’s victory in the Cold War—liberal democracy for everyone!—came at the price of iconoclasm, much of it celebratory.… So communism was killed, and along with it went any discussion of socialism and Marxism. This was the world of my childhood and adolescence, full of establishment progressives who were aggressively centrist and just as willing as conservatives to privilege the interests of capital over those of labor: think of the reckless expansion of so-called free trade, or the brutal military-industrial complex. For most of my life, I would have been hard-pressed to define capitalism, because in the news and in my textbooks, no other ways of organizing an economy were even acknowledged. I didn’t know that there could be an alternative." The topic of "sexual economics theory" from a socialist perspective was very interesting to me, particularly because these ideas are often used by sexist men online as proof that women are "inherently gold-diggers". There are studies that show that men and women prioritise different traits when looking for a partner: men generally focus more on looks and youth than women do; and women focus more on wealth than men do. These studies are used as proof that women are "hypergamous sluts" "incapable of real love!!" etc on some parts of the internet. Other people theorise it's because women's own ability to earn is lower than men's, they're at a disadvantage and marrying up is a means to a better life which is otherwise unavailable. "[after the collapse of the USSR] The commodification of women’s sexuality in Russia could be observed in the dramatic increase in sex work, pornography, strategic marriages for money, and what the authors call “sponsorship,” whereby wealthy men sponsor their mistresses. According to Temkina and Zdravomyslova, this instrumental script was “very seldom found in the narratives of sexual life” of the older women who grew up in the Soviet Union." Ok next I just find some of the writing off-putting, like this: “As if directly responding to the Western stereotype of Eastern Bloc women as tired, fat, and ugly, the East Germans included a whole chapter on “Women, Socialism, Beauty and Love,” complete with stylized black-and-white nude photographs of gorgeous models baring their perky breasts for the cause.” just kind of gross and objectifying to me. Here's a subject that warrants it's own book: “the skyrocketing incidence of depression and anxiety are the negative externalities of a system that reduces human worth to its exchange value” Just another random quote I found interesting: "Researchers asked respondents in Hungary and the United States: “If a woman wants to have a child as a single parent but she doesn’t want to have a stable relationship with a man, do you approve or disapprove?” Only 8 percent of the Hungarians said they “disapproved,” compared to 56 percent of Americans, demonstrating a much more liberal attitude toward single mothers and women’s independence in the state socialist country."

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lien

    Updated review This was laughably disappointing. A good concept/ starting point but terrible execution. When I started reading this, I expected to agree with most of what the author would say and I hoped to get some concrete examples of how socialism can work to serve the many and how we can implement socialist concepts to better our (or in the case of the book, Americans') lives. Unfortunately I didn't get this at all. Ghodsee's writing style was incredibly messy and confusing. I wouldn't consid Updated review This was laughably disappointing. A good concept/ starting point but terrible execution. When I started reading this, I expected to agree with most of what the author would say and I hoped to get some concrete examples of how socialism can work to serve the many and how we can implement socialist concepts to better our (or in the case of the book, Americans') lives. Unfortunately I didn't get this at all. Ghodsee's writing style was incredibly messy and confusing. I wouldn't consider her writing to be accessible. She gives many examples but never properly uses them to to get to an actual point or to convince the reader of what we need to learn from all of this. Also, what was up with her weak attempt at humor. Her lack of clear and concise writing also manifested itself in the fact that I felt I had to basically use my own knowledge about feminism and socialism to subtract any useful point out of what she wrote. Not ideal when you meant to write a book that is accessible to a large audience. Furthermore, I surprisingly didn't agree with a lot of what she said, or particularly, the way she said them. What was up with that whole neoliberal filler chapter about powerful women?? Damn. What was up with the way she was talking about Ken's ex-wife?? What was up with Ghodsee dismissing a women's complaint about life under socialism because she claimed she was 'privileged' as she had access to child care. Overall, Ghodsee didn't get to the root of the capitalism issue enough and focused too much on things like child care and parental leave, things that are very important and great steps towards equality, but won't fix all of our problems. She mentions some interesting things such as how the systems in the Northern states work well because they are largely homogenous countries and how we need to analyze the impact of capitalism on our mental health and how this influences our happiness and sex lives, but then doesn't really talk more on this, which I found unfortunate. The one thing I did find interesting was the Sexual economics theory, but even then, I think she could have done a better job at analyzing and applying it. Furthermore, I think the final chapter was written from a severe position of privilege and could have used an intersectional lens. Saying that voting, learning about socialism and 'reclaiming your time' is incredibly limiting. The fact that she barely, if at all, considers community building and activist efforts as a way to liberation is unfortunate, to say the least. Overall, I feel like this book tried to do too much, which made it end up being a huge disappointment for me. Looking for any recommendations of books that approach socialism and feminism from an accessible, practicable and intersectional lens. Something that actually gives some tools we could apply in the future and leaves me more hopeful for what is possible.

  14. 4 out of 5

    John

    An academic wrote this book. Geez. It is full of bad errors and not honest comparisons. Look away of every statistic that contradict you. You don’t compare of what you think is worst with capitalism with that what you think is best with communism. The values are skewed as well. Equity is for the author better than freedom, of course then when equity is achieved the author will believe it will save everything including sex. Freedom be damned because equity is achieved by giving people the blessin An academic wrote this book. Geez. It is full of bad errors and not honest comparisons. Look away of every statistic that contradict you. You don’t compare of what you think is worst with capitalism with that what you think is best with communism. The values are skewed as well. Equity is for the author better than freedom, of course then when equity is achieved the author will believe it will save everything including sex. Freedom be damned because equity is achieved by giving people the blessing of less choice(meaning: choosing for them). Of course she thinks this gives freedom(but freedom IS choice), because when people don’t need to choose they are free for more sex. And work. Somehow this is very important. Women should be forced into work, because their choice of staying home is wrong. The sex argument is based on bad science, but also a misconception of capitalism. Never trust a socialist description of capitalism! Sex, she thinks, is in capitalism only a commodity making women slaves to be bought. No, sex is not only a commodity of value - but in the case when used as it, the women had all the power - to choose what to get with it. At least it was readable so that the laughs were many and not buried behind obscure writing. She also acknowledges the bads of communism, but somehow millions of dead does not matter in order to give it another try. And yes, this is not the best review, but honestly I found it not worth a more structured and thoughtful disassembly. Read Cathy Jones review in Reason for that.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lou Reckinger

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The book raises some interesting points and I do agree with most of the stands, both on capitalism and feminism. However, the writing bothered me so much I almost couldn’t finish the book. It gives me very rich white buzzfeed-activism vibes. On the very first page, the author starts out by calling sexists “right-wing internet trolls who live in their parents basement”. I cannot help but find this cringey and classist. Further in the book, Ghodsee calls her friend’s ex-wife a “gold digger” and a The book raises some interesting points and I do agree with most of the stands, both on capitalism and feminism. However, the writing bothered me so much I almost couldn’t finish the book. It gives me very rich white buzzfeed-activism vibes. On the very first page, the author starts out by calling sexists “right-wing internet trolls who live in their parents basement”. I cannot help but find this cringey and classist. Further in the book, Ghodsee calls her friend’s ex-wife a “gold digger” and a “bimbo”, which I find a deplorable choice, especially given the context. I also hated her take on “sexual economics” where she completely ignores how the overwhelming reality of sexual violence affects sexual relationships.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sean Estelle

    This very quick read was an overall entertaining, sometimes very persuasive look into the lessons we can learn for women’s liberation from ‘really existing socialisms’ and socialist theorists. I am not really sure what to think of the pieces around sex work (I would have felt better about it if Ghodsee had qualified her critique of sexual economics theory and sex work with a defense of sex workers surviving under capitalism, especially post SESTA/FOSTA). Overall definitely worth the read, even w This very quick read was an overall entertaining, sometimes very persuasive look into the lessons we can learn for women’s liberation from ‘really existing socialisms’ and socialist theorists. I am not really sure what to think of the pieces around sex work (I would have felt better about it if Ghodsee had qualified her critique of sexual economics theory and sex work with a defense of sex workers surviving under capitalism, especially post SESTA/FOSTA). Overall definitely worth the read, even with the clickbait title.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Noemi Kuban

    Took me on a brief trip through modern history of attempts to build a more egalitarian society, looking for the intersections of socialism and feminism, wealth and sexuality, elaborating on multiple ways women benefit under socialism. A good book, well researched, engaging and comprehensible. I wasn’t blown away though, sometimes felt like Ghodsee was just sliding on the surface and lacked some in more advocacy or discourse on intersecional feminism.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Carlos Brefe

    Just talk to someone who lived in an ex-communist country - child care, health care and free education were there, but mostly did no worked properly. Reality, long queues to buy bare necessities, no access to washing machines, no hot water, power shortages, pollution, and lack of other "modernities". Time wasted reading.... Just talk to someone who lived in an ex-communist country - child care, health care and free education were there, but mostly did no worked properly. Reality, long queues to buy bare necessities, no access to washing machines, no hot water, power shortages, pollution, and lack of other "modernities". Time wasted reading....

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ioana

    I picked up this book because I wanted to read something on politics and ended up enjoying it much more than I thought I would! I believe in equality, and both men and women having fulfilling lives. I was born after communism fell in Eastern Europe and I have lived in Denmark, where I could see how socialism and democracy can work together. For men and women alike, the government has put in place policies to protect their quality of life in Denmark, and make sure they are looked after if misfortu I picked up this book because I wanted to read something on politics and ended up enjoying it much more than I thought I would! I believe in equality, and both men and women having fulfilling lives. I was born after communism fell in Eastern Europe and I have lived in Denmark, where I could see how socialism and democracy can work together. For men and women alike, the government has put in place policies to protect their quality of life in Denmark, and make sure they are looked after if misfortune should hit. They have created a society that encourages strong, independent women, which I am happy to see in my close friends and which I would like to see world-round. From education, to health, to relationships I admire what they have done. I can completely see the points that the book is discussing, and was particularly interested in sexual economics and how they manifest in a capitalist society. I liked that the author was also well-informed on the situation in various socialist countries, and made sure to separate the positives from the negatives and communism from socialism. Well researched, approachable style, just left me wanting more information and more in the way of predicting what would happen next.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Conor

    This work offers a peek through the iron curtain and into the bedrooms of the former Soviet Bloc countries. Sex, it turns out, was both more enjoyable and better understood in the authoritarian regimes of Eastern Europe. While the author displays an excellent breadth of historical and sociological understanding of the 20th century European Socialist states, the book's most profound critique is its comparison with the capitalist West--both then and now. While rationing, travel restrictions, and c This work offers a peek through the iron curtain and into the bedrooms of the former Soviet Bloc countries. Sex, it turns out, was both more enjoyable and better understood in the authoritarian regimes of Eastern Europe. While the author displays an excellent breadth of historical and sociological understanding of the 20th century European Socialist states, the book's most profound critique is its comparison with the capitalist West--both then and now. While rationing, travel restrictions, and curtailed rights of expression encumbered life under socialism, citizens were also free of the evils of capitalism. Namely, they enjoyed life uncontrolled by the commodification of relationships and sex. Socialist women enjoyed better pay, more generous government services, and the social autonomy afforded exclusively to men in capitalist countries. The book offers acute insights into life under modern capitalism, in which apps like Tinder are ubiquitous and individual sexuality is wrapped into our own personal social media 'brands.' Because, under capitalism, relationships cannot be divorced from their economic calculations. Women can lose their health coverage if their husband loses his, power-dynamics are abused, and relationships with no soul beyond financial motivation remain commonplace. By way of comparison, Ghodsee offers an alternative to the corrupted sexual dynamics under capitalism and further instills that feminism without socialism is a lost cause. I did take issue with the authors at times uncritical engagement with the perennially maligned sexual marketplace theory, as well as her aggressive optimism which I felt downplayed the enormity of capitalism’s problems. The book tends to struggle when it strays from its evidence and ventures into op-ed moralizing and political diagnoses. That said, I enjoyed my time with the work and appreciated its fairhanded approach and comparison. 4/5, Get it from the library.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ariel ✨

    Smart, funny, enlightening. I made a lot of notes I'll have to revisit in the future. Smart, funny, enlightening. I made a lot of notes I'll have to revisit in the future.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lisette

    Interesting, enjoyable and quick read. Feel like the scope of the book was quite limited, but what it did, it did well and convincingly. Def got me thinking. However, i fundamentally disagree with Ghodsee's reliance on sexual economic theory - feels overly reductive, doesn't leave enough space for personal agency and feels a bit SWERF-y. Also wished she would've focused more explicitly on those who suffer most under capitalism ( undocumented women, disabled women transwomen etc.). Interesting, enjoyable and quick read. Feel like the scope of the book was quite limited, but what it did, it did well and convincingly. Def got me thinking. However, i fundamentally disagree with Ghodsee's reliance on sexual economic theory - feels overly reductive, doesn't leave enough space for personal agency and feels a bit SWERF-y. Also wished she would've focused more explicitly on those who suffer most under capitalism ( undocumented women, disabled women transwomen etc.).

  23. 4 out of 5

    Phillip

    Those reviewers who argue that this book doesn't sufficiently acknowledge the bad elements of life under Eastern European really existing socialism have completely missed Ghodsee's point. While she does repeatedly acknowledge the problems of autocratic single-party states, their misunderstanding is more fundamental than that--her point is not that things were good for women under really existing socialism, just that really existing socialist nations did more to try and promote gender equity, eco Those reviewers who argue that this book doesn't sufficiently acknowledge the bad elements of life under Eastern European really existing socialism have completely missed Ghodsee's point. While she does repeatedly acknowledge the problems of autocratic single-party states, their misunderstanding is more fundamental than that--her point is not that things were good for women under really existing socialism, just that really existing socialist nations did more to try and promote gender equity, economic and social security for women, and empower women to life independent lives not financially dependent on men than their capitalist counterparts did (or still do today). Ghodsee is very clear that the socialist countries often failed to live up to their ideals--partially because they didn't have the money for state run institutions like universal child-care, and partially because many Eastern European countries, particularly up through the early 60s, were dominated by conservative, patriarchal peasant cultures. But again, her fundamental point is that Eastern European socialist nations made concerted, purposeful efforts to work toward gender equity through things like job guarantees and state sponsored healthcare that ensured women could live without needing a man, through gender quotas that helped increase the number of women in positions of power, through liberalized divorce laws, etc. By contrast, in Western democratic countries, women often continue to be tied to men financially because they have little social security and the labor markets still predominantly reward men with higher wages and better security. Although in 2019 things are clearly not as bad as they were in the 1950s, a distressingly high number of women remain in bad marriages/relationships because they would otherwise be unable to find employment or healthcare to support themselves (and their children, if they have them). Because sex is commodified under capitalism--and Ghodsee talks about the theory of sexual economics, but Gary Becker offers another strand of seeing personal/emotional relationships as market exchanges--those with the most economic resources (which tends to be men) are able to exert disproportionate disciplinary authority. In other words, women become workers who sell their sexuality as a commodity in a labor market, whether this takes the form of overt sex work (and the sex work industries exploded in Eastern Europe after the fall of state socialism) or the form of marriages that trap women behind a need for their husband's income and insurance provided through his work. Ultimately, what Ghodsee argues--and what many of the negative reviews here seem to miss--is that when women have a degree of economic independence they have more freedom to develop positive, emotionally fulfilling relationships, which ultimately benefits men as well. And based on the evidence she's presented, some of the programs from the state socialist nations--like a jobs guarantee, universal healthcare, state-sponsored childcare,employment quotas, etc.--have the best track record for moving toward that economic independence, whereas free market capitalism's record of promoting economic independence is abyssal. But, she also argues that these positive programs can easily and productively be built into liberal democratic frameworks while abandoning the negative elements of really existing socialist autocracy. For those that critique the book for not being detailed enough in its evidence, or not providing enough concrete data, this is definitely true. However, Ghodsee does point out specifically in the introduction that the book is for a popular audience, and that anyone interested in more concrete data can consult the further reading suggestions or Ghodsee's other publications on the subject. So, while this is a fair critique for those who want the book to be more scholarly, it isn't a failure of the book, so much as a generic difference.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Keen

    “Americans have a bad reputation for being insular, ignorant, and arrogant (not to mention loud, over weight, and poorly dressed). For many residents of the USA, the rest of the world barely exists unless our government happens to bombing some part of it.” So opens this rather intriguing and thought provoking book. Oh how I laughed at that opener though. I only discovered Ghodsee within the last year, but I have to say she is a bit of a treasure and a clean, gust of fresh air. She states early on “Americans have a bad reputation for being insular, ignorant, and arrogant (not to mention loud, over weight, and poorly dressed). For many residents of the USA, the rest of the world barely exists unless our government happens to bombing some part of it.” So opens this rather intriguing and thought provoking book. Oh how I laughed at that opener though. I only discovered Ghodsee within the last year, but I have to say she is a bit of a treasure and a clean, gust of fresh air. She states early on that, “The argument of this book can be summed up succinctly: unregulated capitalism is bad for women, and if we adopt some ideas from socialism, women will have better lives.” There are plenty of facts and stats from communist/socialist nations to compare against the mighty US, such as, in 1920 the Soviet Union became the first country in Europe to legalise abortion on demand during the first 12 weeks, though this was later reversed by Stalin in 1936, and then legalised again in 1955. In 1963 Valentina Tereshkova became the first female cosmonaut spending more time orbiting the Earth than all make astronauts in the United States had combined. “No socialist experiment was ever allowed to flourish without facing the overt or covert opposition of the US, whether in direct confrontations like those in Korea and Vietnam or secret operations in places such as Cuba, Chile or Nicaragua.” Elsewhere we find that Poland granted 12 weeks of fully paid maternity leave in 1924, in 1956 Czech women were guaranteed women 18 weeks of paid maternity leave, in 1973 Bulgarian women enjoyed fully paid maternity leave of 120 days before and after the birth of the first child, as well as an extra 6 months of leave paid at the national minimum wage, compared with the US which didn’t pass a law outlawing discrimination against pregnant women until 1978. American women didn’t even have a federal law for job protection unpaid leave until 1993. There are many more examples, stories, accounts and studies to support these ideas, and to be honest it makes a really compelling body of evidence, and of course “In 2016 the US joined New Guinea, Suriname, and some islands in the South Pacific in being the only countries in the world lacking a national law on paid parental leave.” This really brings home how regressive and misogynistic America is on the whole. Think about it, the year 2021 and still not a single female leader, even nations like India and Pakistan have had female leaders. No matter what the majority say, the facts speak volumes, America is way behind most of the advanced, and not so advanced, nations of the world when it comes to their treatment and views towards women. “In their imagination, the entire experience of state socialism consisted of people standing in bread lines and snitching on their neighbours to the secret police. For seventy years in the Soviet Union and forty-five years in eastern Europe, totalitarian leaders apparently shuttled everyone back and forth between labour camps and prisons, a godless Orwellian nightmare where people wore grey, unisex Mao suits and sported shaved heads.” She also never shies away from highlighting the many flaws and issues of these countries, like widespread homophobia, racism, anti-Semitism and lack of basic feminine hygiene products, and then there’s Romania “who essentially nationalised women’s bodies.” with their draconian laws, providing many more grim facts too. This is only the second book I’ve read by Ghodsee, but I’ve read enough to see that she is clearly a strong and relevant voice on the subjects of feminism and the political left, there are echoes of Susan Faludi (mentioned in the acknowledgements) and Naomi Klein and many other fine voices out there. She gets her points across well, without getting bogged down and she is always succinct. This was a really interesting read and I highly recommend it to anyone.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Abigail

    Unconvincing and just wrong in places

  26. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie B

    Despite, or perhaps due to, the salacious title, this book is AMAZING. Incredibly well researched, I learned so much, highly recommend it!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Clare

    The politics book club decided it was time to read something fun and spicy and possibly Valentine’s Day appropriate? I forget if that came up in the discussion, as I periodically forget about most holidays that aren’t Halloween.  Anyway, for February we landed on Kristen R. Ghodsee’s Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism: And Other Arguments for Economic Independence.  It’s a pretty short, pretty easy read, and it lets you know where it stands right off the bat. Page 1 has two paragraphs. Th The politics book club decided it was time to read something fun and spicy and possibly Valentine’s Day appropriate? I forget if that came up in the discussion, as I periodically forget about most holidays that aren’t Halloween.  Anyway, for February we landed on Kristen R. Ghodsee’s Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism: And Other Arguments for Economic Independence.  It’s a pretty short, pretty easy read, and it lets you know where it stands right off the bat. Page 1 has two paragraphs. The first paragraph sums up the book’s core argument. The second paragraph explains what various sorts of readers can expect to get from reading the book, except trolls, who can fuck off. The opposite page features a picture of a smiling Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, in full cosmonaut gear with “CCCP” prominently visible on her helmet. So far, so good. Ghodsee, a professor of Russian and Eastern European studies, uses the term “under socialism” in its broadest possible sense, looking at the effects of changes won by socialist parties, politicians, and agitators on women’s achievements and personal lives in a variety of countries touched by socialist movements.  Some of her specific definition choices strike me as a little odd—she refers to countries ruled by Communist parties as “state socialist” rather than “communist” because they never achieved full communism, but she refers to countries where democratic socialist parties held power and implemented programs via parliamentary means as “democratic socialist” countries rather than their usual name of “social democracies,” even though they never achieved full democratic socialism either. For most of the book I was able to mostly take it in stride that in this work we’re using words the way the author defines them, as is good and normal, but it got noticeably weird when talking about, like, there being a higher proportion of female CEOs in Scandinavian countries. “Socialist countries have more of some type of CEO” is the sort of framing that makes a big record scratch noise go off in my brain, even if it is immediately followed up with a discussion of how focusing on elite women leaves the vast majority of women behind. In the “smart editorial choices” column, the book is structured so all the “other arguments” are in the earlier chapters and the stuff about Soviet sexology is in the later ones, thus ensuring that readers are motivated to read past the first few chapters. Although if I weren’t reading this for a book club I might have been tempted to skim some bits; I have been doing this feminism thing for quite a while and I’ve read most of the stats on labor force participation rates before. It’s cool that Ghodsee brings in more stats about Soviet countries than you usually see in mainstream progressive feminist discourse, which most often just compares the US and Western Europe, though. But there’s still just a lot of Feminist Political Program ground I’ve seen covered before—maternity leave policies, hiring discrimination, wage gaps, correlation between numbers of lady bankers and firm performance in the 2008 meltdown, sexual economics theory, public policy and birth rates, etc. It therefore probably shouldn’t have been surprising that I actually found the parts of the book that were explicitly about sex more interesting than the bits that weren’t; it would appear that because it is less relevant to my usual interests than the stuff about career paths and birth control access, it was also the material that I wasn’t already familiar with. Apparently there was some pretty intense Cold War rivalry going on in the field of sex research in the mid-20th century. I had no idea. I was also fascinated by the different taxonomies (here called scripts) of sexual behavior that researchers found when conducting interviews with Russian women of different ages, which changed dramatically in different periods of political history. Researchers found five, one of which (“instrumentalist”) appears to have not even existed under the Soviet system. (The only one of the scripts that sounded even remotely tolerable to me was the “friendship script,” which Ghodsee insists is not the same thing as a friend with benefits, meaning it would appear that I don’t understand what a friend with benefits is either. Apparently I am Too Socialist in addition to Too Aromantic to understand literally anything about contemporary pairing behaviors.) (This is why I don’t usually read about this stuff—it just leaves me more confused.) One of the explicit goals of this book was to inject some nuance about how we talk about the USSR into American political discourse, where it is generally seen as a one-dimensional black hole of Evil Empire by most Americans (and then as an unimpeachable workers’ paradise of anti-imperialism by a small but loud handful of anime avatars on Twitter, but the less said about them the better). In this respect I think she does a pretty good job for American readers, even if she does occasionally hit levels of Explaining Very Clearly that would make me feel a little talked down to were I not acutely aware that I have been rendered unable to talk to normal people and am myself no longer a normal people. Also I like the term “blackwashing” and will be adopting it immediately. Overall I am pretty glad we picked this book since I probably wouldn’t have read it on my own, but it was an interesting read and I learned some things. Originally posted at This month in 'books the allos made me read'.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nikki

    Interesting read. Some thoughts: - Funnily enough, the chapters on sex were actually the least interesting. They presented a simple idea in a 100 different ways, just to draw it out. - I am not a fan of capitalism, but her doomsday description of our lives under this particular economic system is really over-the-top. The picture of bleakness and despair she paints does not correspond with my experiences and observations. - I couldn’t help but feel the author is kind of fatphobic. She seems to equ Interesting read. Some thoughts: - Funnily enough, the chapters on sex were actually the least interesting. They presented a simple idea in a 100 different ways, just to draw it out. - I am not a fan of capitalism, but her doomsday description of our lives under this particular economic system is really over-the-top. The picture of bleakness and despair she paints does not correspond with my experiences and observations. - I couldn’t help but feel the author is kind of fatphobic. She seems to equate ‘fat’ with ‘bad’. - The author sometimes makes these utterly outrageous declarations, such as “[antidepressants] control anxiety but often squash libido, turning young men and women into dutiful workaholic automatons who have little time or interest in romance”. This idea that antidepressants turn people into robots is really outdated and harmful. - I’m too tired to provide examples, but while reading this I often felt there were inconsistencies and logical fallacies in the author’s reasoning. Really, the more I think about this book, the less I like it. However, there was some interesting information in there, and it was well-written.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Emily Hayman

    Ghodsee writes to dispel the myths about socialism, and puts forward a convincing argument against the notion of the free market and the seemingly fixed structures on which nations in the West are run today, grounded in decades of research. Where women are not financially independent, they remain trapped in a cycle of trade and exchange of love and sex to ensure basic needs are met. She focussed a lot on the Nordic models, so would have been interesting to get a more holistic global view of such Ghodsee writes to dispel the myths about socialism, and puts forward a convincing argument against the notion of the free market and the seemingly fixed structures on which nations in the West are run today, grounded in decades of research. Where women are not financially independent, they remain trapped in a cycle of trade and exchange of love and sex to ensure basic needs are met. She focussed a lot on the Nordic models, so would have been interesting to get a more holistic global view of such politics, but nevertheless, found it super interesting!

  30. 5 out of 5

    R.

    To be clear, this was a thought provoking book in some ways, but only in that it gave me ideas for other things that I'd like to learn more about. I feel like Sexual Economics Theory is something that would be really interesting if put forth in a serious manner as a topic of discussion, but it was hard to take this seriously in this way. “The state of being female is complicated by other categories such as class, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, religious belief, and so on.” Read To be clear, this was a thought provoking book in some ways, but only in that it gave me ideas for other things that I'd like to learn more about. I feel like Sexual Economics Theory is something that would be really interesting if put forth in a serious manner as a topic of discussion, but it was hard to take this seriously in this way. “The state of being female is complicated by other categories such as class, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, religious belief, and so on.” Read that again. Now substitute the word female for any other thing you'd like. The statement still applies. The state of being gay, the state of being lesbian, the state of being white, the state of being disabled, the state of being socialist, etc. That means it's more or less a worthless statement. There's a lot of that in the book, things that made me go, "And? So what's your point?" All of that said, there were some interesting parts. I'm a data and statistics guy and I enjoyed seeing the stats on comparisons between East and West German woman and other nations. I know a lot of that is not necessarily the most scientific stuff and would be difficult to replicate, but it was interesting nonetheless.

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