What was the situation of women in socialist societies like? The “emancipated woman” with “equal opportunities”? Did that ideal ever become a reality?
“(T)here is no difference to Capitalism anyways”
“Of course not,” the Polish lady in her 40’s is stating. Her name is Katarzyna and she is a telephone engineer but now working together with me in a State work creation scheme (1-Euro-Job) in Berlin. “It is and was all just political and patriarchal propaganda. The men allowed women to work, but not because they were convinced that females should have the same choices regarding their lifestyle. They just needed the females to work for their interests and to reinforce their power. And there is no difference to Capitalism anyways. Just our propaganda was working a bit better and the repression was bigger. That’s all.”
What an opening statement for a conversation! But no, she does not hate men, she says quickly. We are sitting in a lounge and having some drinks. Angry, she is going on, that her generation still believes in that tale or better they gave up themselves to their living conditions. She just can’t understand that, and that’s why she has been reading the monthly issue of “Emma” (German feminist magazine) more than one time. For six years she has been living in Germany, where she immigrated to with her family from Wroclaw. Her husband left her for another woman, a younger one. He wanted her to work and to raise the two children and do the household. She just didn’t like that anymore.
“Sometimes they are so gutless if it comes to take responsibility,” she says bitterly.
But at the same time she is asking herself, if she possibly wasn’t attractive enough for him anymore. Schizophrenic.
“You hate men then after all?”
“No, I don’t, I love them too much and that is the female mess. We want to be free and equal with all our decisions and choices, but we also fear so much. We are afraid that we just can’t be enough for the opposite sex. We need to free ourselves by denying the expectations patriarchal society has on a woman. We should cooperate and support ourselves in female networks much more. This is the important point regardless of the political system. Since Socialism broke down and Capitalism came up nothing has changed. The male interests are still the same.”
Let’s burn our bras again.
She is taking a deep drag on her cigarette and seems suddenly to know which road to take. For me there are still some questions: How to break through this then? How to establish equality successfully? And how to raise more solidarity between women?
“Don’t doubt so much, ladies, and stand up for yourselves and your interests. Let’s burn our bras again. We need to get back to the roots.” She confidently states.
Excitedly, she is calling the waiter. As he arrives at our table he is making a sexist joke and she is starting to giggle. ‘Still a long way to go,’ I think disappointedly and enter the next lesbian bar.