Post-socialist Women and Men

When the Soviet bloc collapsed, men massively became depressed, planted themselves on their couches, and pouted about the injustice done to them. Women, on the other hand, got over it fast, picked up extra jobs, put food on the table, and ploughed on.

My family was exceptional in that my father started a business three seconds after it became allowed and my mother quit her job. Every friend I had in high school would ask, “wait, you said your Dad works? And your Mom doesn’t? How weird.”

I’m talking about normal people, not bandits, of course. Those had very traditional gender roles always.

The families that emigrated went through the same process. An unemployed, resentful Dad on the couch in an eternal tracksuit that was never used for working out and a Mom working three jobs. Many are still at it 30 years later, even when they are retired.

I have no explanation for this. This was a generation of men who never experienced any purges, genocide, wars, or any repression different from that of the women. So you can’t say that they were traumatized by that and gave up when the upheaval of capitalism came.

I thought it was a post-Soviet phenomenon but I’m seeing the same dynamic described in Lea Ypi’s memoir about life in post-1991 Albania. Her parents both suffered during socialism because of having a bad family history. But once capitalism came, Lea’s Dad became an unemployed pouter in a tracksuit moaning about his nostalgia for socialism and her Mom became a pro-capitalist politician.

More Levels

The next level is when people figure out that their problems come from the inside.

Instead of “I don’t want to go back to work because I’m scared of COVID”, they have the intellectual sophistication to say, “Hah, it looks like I’m sick of my job and need a break from going in every day.”

Or instead of saying, “I don’t want to have children because of global warming” they say “I don’t want to have children because I had early bonding problems / I’m immature / I lack energy, etc.”

At this level, people start beating themselves up for the problem they identified within themselves. “I’m lazy, I’m no good, etc.”

At the next level, they start keeping the problem in check by self-control, discipline, stoicism, etc. It’s a more advanced level of development but the problem is that this self-control slips during moments of hardship. For instance, a person quits drinking and stays sober. Then, a bad moment comes. A tragedy, a personal loss. So he says, “I’ll just have one shot of tequila to relax ” and then he sucks down a whole bottle and passes out. The next day, he has to start erecting the whole edifice of self-control all over again.

At the level after this one, the person discovers a powerful source of energy precisely in those difficult moments. He plugs into them like a charger into an electrical outlet.

And then on the level beyond that, he learns how to stay connected to the charger permanently. He lights up from the inside and glows even when he sleeps. And the people around him get some of that energy for themselves.

There are more levels but very few people reach that far, so it’s unnecessary to discuss them.

Film Studies Fail

Contrary to the opinion widely held by professors of film studies, moviegoers aren’t sexist and seem to detest the idea of looking at young, pretty women (or men):

I wouldn’t go to see any of these people because they are all shit actors. OK, except Morgan Freeman. But the rest, I have no idea why anybody wants to stare at their frozen, Botoxed faces.