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History of Communism in Europe

Volume 8, 2017

The Other Half of Communism: Women's Outlook

Julia Mead, Kristen Ghodsee
Pages 17-36
DOI: 10.5840/hce201782

Debating Gender in State Socialist Women’s Magazines: the Cases of Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia

Contrary to the accepted Cold War stereotypes about state socialist mass women’s organizations, we will show that Communist leaders were attentive to the construction of gender roles and used women’s magazines as a forum to discuss openly the changing ideals of masculinity and femininity. Through a discourse analysis of articles in Vlasta (Czechoslovakia) and Zhenata Dnes (Bulgaria), our article will interrogate the categories of “man” and “woman” and their negotiation during the Communist era on the pages of official state magazines. In the Bulgarian case, we will discuss key articles that explicitly dealt with the importance of fathers and fatherhood, as for the case of Czechoslovakia, we will examine a series of articles and letters in which women’s union leaders and ordinary citizens discuss women’s entry into the workforce that had previously been the purview of men.