LIŠKOVÁ, Kateřina. Sex backwards. Sexology and intimate life in communist Czechoslovakia. In European Sociological Association annual conference, RN23 Sexualities. 2015.
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Basic information
Original name Sex backwards. Sexology and intimate life in communist Czechoslovakia
Authors LIŠKOVÁ, Kateřina (203 Czech Republic, guarantor, belonging to the institution).
Edition European Sociological Association annual conference, RN23 Sexualities, 2015.
Other information
Original language English
Type of outcome Presentations at conferences
Field of Study 50000 5. Social Sciences
Country of publisher Czech Republic
Confidentiality degree is not subject to a state or trade secret
RIV identification code RIV/00216224:14230/15:00084233
Organization unit Faculty of Social Studies
Keywords in English sex-gender-Czechoslovakia
Changed by Changed by: doc. Kateřina Lišková, Ph.D., učo 10222. Changed: 13/10/2015 15:47.
Czechoslovakians came to sex backwards, achieving gender emancipation long before sexual liberation. Moreover, sexual liberation didn’t come as a result of popular demand from below, but rather came from above. In the early years of communism in the 1950s, women were equal to men not only at work and according to the law, but also in expert discussions of sexuality and marriage. Sex experts discussed sex in connection with love within an egalitarian marriage, and included a woman’s equal right to orgasm. As sexual deviance was not a priority, sexologists even pushed for the decriminalization of homosexuality at this time. But, by the late stages of socialism – when the West was experiencing sexual and then gender liberation – equality disappeared from Czechoslovak sexology. A successful marriage was reframed as hierarchical; family became privatized and was strictly separated from the public realm of work. Individual therapy replaced public equality. Utopian models of a new and just society disappeared as both individuals and society at large settled for privatized solutions to any and all social ailments. Hundreds of sexually dysfunctional couples came for treatment in new marriage counseling centers or in-patient facilities. Dozens of “sexually deviant” men who could not or did not live up to the family norm were sentenced and placed in the sexological wards of psychiatric hospitals established in the 1970s. The case of Czechoslovakia shows that histories of sex and gender are more complex and diverse than the narratives of linear advancement most Western theories suggest. In this paper, I analyze the developments of sexology, its prescriptions in marriage manuals and treatment protocols, its internal debates as published in scholarly papers, and its connections to broader political environment. Studying sex during communist rule reveals an alternative modernity as it unfolded in Eastern Europe.
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