Gender of Communism

Cover of the magazine Neuer Weg (New Way), internal magazine for members of the East German communist party, 1974, Bundesarchiv Library.

Founded on emancipatory albeit androcentric thought, the communist regimes established in Eastern Europe in fact opened women’s way towards activism, political positions and paid employment. In doing so, they nevertheless also perpetuated pre-existing gender relations by limiting the role of women or by marginalizing certain sectors. They even produced their own traditionalist discourses and policies focused on the family, which nevertheless gradually began to erode during the 1970s. Still, these regimes enabled the development of a kind of “feminism without feminists,” one that was less visible because more widespread, thanks to the leeway available to women to defend their occasional demands.