With the collapse of state socialism, women in Eastern and Central Europe are now faced with more than the double burden of paid and domestic labor. Soaring unemployment is driving women out of the workplace, and nationalist ideologues are urging them to reassume their “primary responsibility”—to produce babies for the nation. Lack of childcare and attacks upon abortion rights are narrowing choices. Can these issues provide the catalyst for transforming the embryonic women’s groups into something like a mass women’s movement? Or will the current allergy to feminism prevail? Many women now claim to have suffered from “too much emancipation” under socialism, and are seeking what they see as new forms of freedom in femininity and maternity.
Barbara Einhorn’s timely account of women’s position before and after the demise of state socialism in Eastern Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary shows how the issues of gender are today at the heart of potentially explosive processes of social and political transformation. Her book provides incisive sociological, economic and political analysis, along with perceptive commentary on the ways in which the changes in women’s daily lives are being represented in literature and in the media.