12 Apr 2020

Kim Hill speaks with Dr Kristen Ghodsee about her book Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism

From Smart Talk, 4:06 pm on 12 April 2020
Book cover for Why Women and Better Sex Under Socialism, and picture of author Kristen Ghodsee

Photo: NZ Festival of the Arts

Is Capitalism bad for women?

Dr Kristen Ghodsee asserted as such in a NY Times opinion piece that went viral and led to her book Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism: And Other Arguments for Economic Independence.

Drawing upon decades of research, Ghodsee argues that capitalism suppresses women, who are happier and healthier in societies which value a smaller gap between those with wealth and those without.

The Professor of Russian and East European Studies, and author of nine books, talks with Kim Hill, in a session recorded on 12 March 2020, as the COVID-19 situation was unfolding.

This audio was recorded in partnership with the Writers programme at the 2020 New Zealand Festival of the Arts in Wellington.

About the speaker

Dr Kristen Ghodsee

When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, Kristen R. Ghodsee was travelling in Europe and spent the summer of 1990 witnessing first-hand the initial hope and euphoria that followed the sudden and unexpected collapse of state socialism in the former Eastern Bloc.

The political and economic chaos that followed inspired Ghodsee to pursue an academic career studying this upheaval, focusing on how ordinary people’s lives – and women’s particularly – changed when state socialism gave way to capitalism.

For the last two decades, she has visited the region regularly and lived for over three years in Bulgaria and the Eastern parts of reunified Germany. Now a professor of Russian and East European Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, she has won many awards for her work, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, and has written nine books on gender, socialism, and post-socialism, examining the everyday experiences of upheaval and displacement that continue to haunt the region to this day.

Ghodsee also writes on women's issues for the Chronicle of Higher Education and is the co-author of Professor Mommy: Finding Work/Family Balance in Academia. Her articles and essays have appeared in publications such as EurozineAeonDissentForeign Affairs and The New York Times.