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

With acumen and wit (chapters include “What to Expect When You’re Expecting Exploitation”), a professor lays bare the inequities women face under capitalism and the desirability of decoupling “love and intimacy from economic considerations.
— O Magazine
A passionate but reasoned feminist socialist manifesto for the 21st century… Ghodsee’s treatise will be of interest to women becoming disillusioned with the capitalism under which they were raised.
— Publishers Weekly
A pointed examination of the Soviet experiment… Using her years living in Bulgaria as fodder for the narrative, along with decades of research, she makes the case that there are lessons capitalist countries can and should learn from socialism… At the same time, the author isn’t blind to the failures of socialist regimes… While the title is the literary version of click-bait, the book is chock-full of hard-hitting real talk.
— Kirkus
Reliant on the commodification of everything, capitalism’s triumph is a calamity for most women. Their hard slog as mothers and careers can never be remunerated within market societies which, by design, are compelled to commodify their sexuality, robbing them in the process of their autonomy, even of the opportunity to enjoy sex for-themselves. Without romanticizing formerly communist regimes, Ghodsee’s new book retrieves brilliantly the plight of hundreds of millions of women in those countries as they were being stripped of state support and thrust into brutal, unfettered markets. Employing personal anecdotes, forays into the history of the women’s movement and an incisive mind, Ghodsee is enabling us to overcome the unnecessary tension between identity and class politics on the road towards the inclusive, progressive movement for societal change we so desperately need.
— Yanis Varoufakis, author of Adults in the Room
A quietly damning indictment of the Lean In approach to women’s empowerment through the corporate boardroom. Ghodsee makes a compelling case for a more expansive understanding of feminism, where remaking the economy is central. A necessary reminder that today’s socialism should be as much about pleasure as it is about power and production
— Kate Aronoff, coeditor of Democratic Socialism, American Style
This book is funny, angry, and urgent-it’s going to make readers think very differently about how they work, and how they live. Ghodsee is going to start a revolution. I’m already making a placard.
— Daisy Buchanan, author of How To Be a Grown-Up
Capitalism has fundamentally shaped and warped the ways we relate to each other, sexually and otherwise…leading us to view intimacy and love as things that only exist in finite quantities, and that are only worth investing in worthy relationships. Ghodsee’s book offers an alternative to this model, looking back at the state-socialist regimes in the 20th century, under which the state liberalized divorce laws, legalized abortion, invested in collective laundries and nurseries, and enabled women to attain more economic freedom—and in turn, better sex.
— The Cut
It’s freaking GOOD AS HELL!
— Season of the Bitch
A provocative and deftly argued text.
— Vice Broadly
A straightforward account of how capitalism harms women—including, yes, in our intimate lives… It made me want to do much more than vote.
— Jewish Currents
There are many reasons to revisit socialist policies in a time of widening inequality, but a feminist perspective offers some of the most powerful incentives.
— The Guardian
Ghodsee’s focus…on sex and sexual relations emerges elegantly from the argument she has developed: that a feminist politics is central to socialism because it cannot avoid its foundation in economic principles. So long as women are economically dependent on men, there can be no equality; without such equality, she argues, heterosexual relations will suffer and so will the experience of sex itself.
— In These Times
Fascinating… The book isn’t nearly as silly as the title suggests.
— The Times of London
Although it would have killed some of the fun, Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism: And Other Arguments for Economic Independence could have gone by the title Socialism for Dummies. In her introduction, Kristen R. Ghodsee, a professor of Russian and East European studies who has written only scholarly books until now, observes that “the collapse of state socialism in 1989 created a perfect laboratory to investigate the effects of capitalism on women’s lives.” In six sharp essay-like chapters, she compares her findings with what she’s learned of women’s experiences under socialism. Each begins with a personal jumping-off point that helps her stay true to her stated ambition to write an accessible book for a general readership.
— Shelf Awareness

Links to full reviews

The virtue of Ghodsee’s smart, accessible book is that it illustrates how it might be possible for a woman — or, for that matter, a man — to have an entirely different structural relationship to something as fundamental as sex, or health.– Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker

Kristen Ghodsee’s feminist focus is on the “ravages of neo-liberal capitalism…” In addition to sex, those other pillars of gender equity — housework, motherhood, labour and leadership — receive their fair share of attention. An unexpectedly rich and agreeable exploration. – Sarah Murdoch. Toronto Star

“[A] short, crisp and wonderfully engaging polemic [that] couldn’t be more urgent…. A tonic for a badly ailing discourse…. Ghodsee’s book shows that for women, socialism can at least improve the conditions for pleasure, and perhaps inextricably, love.”―Liza Featherstone, Jacobin

“With acumen and wit (chapters include “What to Expect When You’re Expecting Exploitation”), a professor lays bare the inequities women face under capitalism and the desirability of decoupling “love and intimacy from economic considerations.” – O Magazine

“A provocative and deftly argued text.”―Broadly

“Wonderful … Kristen Ghodsee doesn’t wear rose-tinted spectacles … but she seeks with great brio and nuance to lay out what some socialist states achieved for women … That Ghodsee also makes this a joyous read is the cherry on the cake” – Suzanne Moore, Observer

“Ghodsee’s book could not have been published at a better moment … There are many reasons to revisit socialist policies in a time of widening inequality, but a feminist perspective offers some of the most powerful incentives” – Emily Witt, Guardian

“Convincing, provocative and useful” –Times Higher Education

“Capitalism has fundamentally shaped and warped the ways we relate to each other, sexually and otherwise…leading us to view intimacy and love as things that only exist in finite quantities, and that are only worth investing in worthy relationships. Ghodsee’s book offers an alternative to this model, looking back at the state-socialist regimes in the 20th century, under which the state liberalized divorce laws, legalized abortion, invested in collective laundries and nurseries, and enabled women to attain more economic freedom-and in turn, better sex.”―The Cut

“A straightforward account of how capitalism harms women-including, yes, in our intimate lives… It made me want to do much more than vote.”―Jewish Currents

“[F]ascinating, thought-provoking and often jarring reading.” The Herald Scotland

“Ghodsee’s focus…on sex and sexual relations emerges elegantly from the argument she has developed: that a feminist politics is central to socialism because it cannot avoid its foundation in economic principles. So long as women are economically dependent on men, there can be no equality; without such equality, she argues, heterosexual relations will suffer and so will the experience of sex itself.”―In These Times

“A passionate but reasoned feminist socialist manifesto for the 21st century… Ghodsee’s treatise will be of interest to women becoming disillusioned with the capitalism under which they were raised.”―Publishers Weekly