How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed

In the book Slavenka Drakuli highlights the numerous challenges that people faced during the communist era in Eastern Europe. Drakuli, in particular, offers emotive recollections of her daily life during this period, including a lack of ordinary supplies, repressive attitudes owing to individualism, and a confined living standard.

Effects on Women

While the government philosophy of gender equality and individuality appeared to affect men, Drakuli discusses how the same thought affected women in different ways. According to Drakuli, the philosophy also affected women’s workplaces, personal life, and how they fostered their feminism and individuality. While Drakulić sought to bring out women's predicament in the communist era, there are many other values that are not captured in her work.

Equality of Sexes

First of all, in her book Drakulić shows that the communist government was more focused on creating equality of all sexes instead of coming up with a utopian society that Eastern Europe envisioned. As a result, the ideology of sexism in this rule was considered flawed. Drakulić (46) stated that it was a woman's work to scrub floors, iron clothes, and laundry hand-washing in the community that claimed there is gender equality. In short, as much as the communist strove for fairness, it was not meant for this particular community. In my view, I do not think that the presence of various roles for women and men is lack of equality. Notably, in a typical society, there must be rules that govern them although it is not necessary that everybody follows suit. Therefore, it is not the role of the communist government to determine the positions of the sexes other it is a society and individual decision on which characters each gender should do. Therefore, the communist regime created a platform of gender equality; nevertheless, it was the role of society to ensure that they are kept, for instance, men contributing to the functions such as scrubbing the floor.

Divorce and Individualism

In Drakulić (107), she stated that the divorced woman was more hurt and unsatisfied by life in general than their male partner due to the social destabilization of life. She goes ahead to give many examples of divorced partners in the communist countries and links the source of divorce as the woman's struggle with suppressed individualism and sexism. Further, Drakulić argued that it is only in the family that a woman could express her individuality which had also been highly constrained. In short, Drakulić relates the failed marriage to the ideology of communist suppression behavior which affected the individual lives. In contrast, I believe that the divorces were as a result of differing opinions other than the communist rule. Moreover, the women must have become rebellious against their men since they thought that the government would intervene and make the men submit to their demands. The men seemed satisfied with the situations because they led the lives they believed in and were not willing to change to the new conditions. As a result, everybody in the communist government had suppressed individualism; nevertheless, the men were more adaptive to the situations and smoothly go areas such as marriage that did not work to their advantage.

Struggle for Individuality

Further, Drakulić (23) argued that away from family, women struggled to have individuality; nevertheless, they could not have it because the communist government suppressed their lifestyle choice. Accordingly, this government denied the opportunity of make-up, clothes, and even hair products to distinguish them. As a result, instead, the government succeeded in poverty equal distribution as well as neglect of human needs. Moreover, Drakulić (23) stated that women avoid uniformity through constant battles of maintaining uniqueness. As a result, women went ahead to bribe the salesgirls as well as buy goods in the black market to look different from the others. Evidently, it was a struggle for individualism and a hard task for women to maintain uniqueness in this era. Nevertheless, I tend to differ with this argument because, as much as the government controlled the trade platforms, it was impossible to determine what the vendors sold in their market. For instance, the government did not control the colors of the beauty products. Therefore, women had a chance of creating uniqueness by wearing clothes of different colors.

Battle for Individualism and Feminism

Finally, Drakulić argued that the battle for individualism was hard like that of feminism. However, together with her friends, Drakulić was able to form a group that pursued the equality of gender without necessarily showing sexism. In fact, they created the first Yugoslavia feminist group that was later attacked by the women's organizations (Drakulić 128). Further, Drakulić noted that wives were divorced and received threatening letters for being feminists. Explicitly, she stated that they felt lonely for being feminists in that period (Drakulić 129). In contrast, I think these women put themselves in these positions, not the communist government or the men. Human beings are born in communities that are guided by culture, and as much as women fight to be equal to men, there are still so many other things to change and agree on to achieve equality.


In brief, my beliefs on the values of the community differ from those discussed by Drakulić in her book How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed. The contradiction occurs because it is not the communist government that constrained the achievement of individualism and equality but rather societal values. It is the community that created the gender roles, and not even the communist government has succeeded in creating gender equality.

Work Cited

Drakulić, Slavenka. How We Survived Communism and Even Laughed. New York: Harper Perennial, 2016. Imprint.

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