Do Communists Have Better Sex?
Directed by Andre Meier (2006)
Do Communists have Better Sex? is a comparison of sexual mores in East and West Germany prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Studies suggest that East German women found sex more satisfying. A 1980 study found that 50% of West German women were unable to achieve orgasm, in contrast to 15% of East German women. The filmmakers attribute this difference to three general factors: the greater economic independence of East German women, a more relaxed attitude towards sexuality that allowed people, rather than the media, to control their sexuality, and the availability of well written sexual manuals about women’s sexual needs.
The Role of Economic Independence
At the end of World War II, East Germany experienced a severe shortage of men as most returning soldiers settled in West Germany. This made it necessary for women to assume men’s roles in East German industry. In contrast West German women were pressured to leave their war jobs to free them up for men. Government, churches and the media bombarded them with the message their chief role in life was to make men happy.
Owing to the large number of war widows raising children, the East German government provided generous social programs, including free child care and cooperative laundries to enable them to work full time. This made them economically independent from men and significantly reduced the pressure for them to marry.
Role of Religion
In West Germany, the church’s preeminent influence made sex a taboo topic until the late sixties. This included sex education in schools, and teachers could be prosecuted for explaining where babies came from.
In East Germany, the Communist Party took the view that healthy sexual relationships were essential for people to develop fully as human beings. The East German government introduced sex education in schools in the 1950s, though they put more emphasis on TV programming that educated parents on dealing with teen sexuality. Consensual sex was legal from age 16 up.
Access to Birth Control
In East Germany oral contraceptives were free for all women 14 and over from the early sixties when they first became available. Abortion (prior to 12 weeks pregnancy) were legal and free from 1972 on. In West Germany, feminists had to fight long and hard to gain access to birth control pills in the late sixties and abortion in 1976.
Pornography and Sexploitation
While the East German government had strict laws against pornography, sex shows and sexploitation,* they were extremely tolerant of nudism at public beaches and campsites. In addition, they directly subsidized the publication of popular sex manuals to keep men up to date on women’s sexual needs.
In West Germany, nudism was illegal, while male-oriented pornography, peep shows and strip clubs proliferated with the 1975 repeal of their pornography law.
*Sexploitation is the commercial exploitation of sex, sexual attractiveness, or sexually explicit material.