32 Years Later: A Pregnant Man, Oprah Winfrey And Scientific Communism

I apologize to the readers of this blog for drifting off the subject, but I cannot help but share this story.

Spring 1976.  I was about to graduate from the St. Petersburg (Leningrad back then)  State University with a B.S. in Biology.  The only thing that separated me from freedom was the final, "state" as it was called, exam on "scientific communism" — a mandatory requirement for graduation from every university or college in the Soviet Union.

It wasn’t a big deal; I’ve never heard of anyone failing the exam.  And no wonder: by the time of graduation, everyone, even those studying science like me, had been sufficiently indoctrinated with different aspects of what was collectively called "scientific communism."  In addition, we were assisted with a textbook of a modest size (about 300 pages), which could be swallowed in one-night gulp washed down with a gallon of strong coffee. 

The question I got on the exam, "Marriage and Family under Socialism and Communism", wasn’t controversial; besides, I knew exactly what I was supposed to say.  So, I was sailing through quite smoothly.  But then, the professor engaged me in a discussion on whether, even under Communism, there could be true equal opportunities for men and women.  Admittedly, I had my doubts.  But why take a risk?  I thus kept pushing the "official line": sure, absolutely equal opportunities.

Suddenly, the professor — a young fellow, apparently not completely alien to some non-orthodox thinking — got excited and confronted me with the following argument.  "OK", he said, "you insist that men and women will have equal opportunities.  But what about the time women would have to spend away from their jobs to give birth to babies?  Or do you believe that under Communism, men will be able to give birth to babies too?"

I was stunned at the apparent absurdity of this question and didn’t know what to say.  Sensing my hesitation, the "scientific communist" repeated: "Do you believe that men will ever be able to give birth to babies?"

I finally replied: "No, I don’t."  We both relaxed, smiled at each other and I was off with the highest mark.

I remembered this story when reading that The Oprah Winfrey Show had recently hosted a pregnant man.  I leave it to Ms. Winfrey to ponder how this phenomenon could potentially affect the issue of equal gender opportunities in capitalist societies. 

I guess there was a reason for my hesitation 32 years ago.  Did I see it coming?   

About Eugene Ivanov

Eugene Ivanov is a PMI-certified Innovation Management Consultant who helps organizations increase the efficiency of their internal and external innovation programs.
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32 Years Later: A Pregnant Man, Oprah Winfrey And Scientific Communism

I apologize to the readers of this blog for drifting off the subject, but I cannot help but share this story.

Spring 1976.  I was about to graduate from the St. Petersburg (Leningrad back then)  State University with a B.S. in Biology.  The only thing that separated me from freedom was the final, "state" as it was called, exam on "scientific communism" — a mandatory requirement for graduation from every university or college in the Soviet Union.

It wasn’t a big deal; I’ve never heard of anyone failing the exam.  And no wonder: by the time of graduation, everyone, even those studying science like me, had been sufficiently indoctrinated with different aspects of what was collectively called "scientific communism."  In addition, we were assisted with a textbook of a modest size (about 300 pages), which could be swallowed in one-night gulp washed down with a gallon of strong coffee. 

The question I got on the exam, "Marriage and Family under Socialism and Communism", wasn’t controversial; besides, I knew exactly what I was supposed to say.  So, I was sailing through quite smoothly.  But then, the professor engaged me in a discussion on whether, even under Communism, there could be true equal opportunities for men and women.  Admittedly, I had my doubts.  But why take a risk?  I thus kept pushing the "official line": sure, absolutely equal opportunities.

Suddenly, the professor — a young fellow, apparently not completely alien to some non-orthodox thinking — got excited and confronted me with the following argument.  "OK", he said, "you insist that men and women will have equal opportunities.  But what about the time women would have to spend away from their jobs to give birth to babies?  Or do you believe that under Communism, men will be able to give birth to babies too?"

I was stunned at the apparent absurdity of this question and didn’t know what to say.  Sensing my hesitation, the "scientific communist" repeated: "Do you believe that men will ever be able to give birth to babies?"

I finally replied: "No, I don’t."  We both relaxed, smiled at each other and I was off with the highest mark.

I remembered this story when reading that The Oprah Winfrey Show had recently hosted a pregnant man.  I leave it to Ms. Winfrey to ponder how this phenomenon could potentially affect the issue of equal gender opportunities in capitalist societies. 

I guess there was a reason for my hesitation 32 years ago.  Did I see it coming?   

About Eugene Ivanov

Eugene Ivanov is a PMI-certified Innovation Management Consultant who helps organizations increase the efficiency of their internal and external innovation programs.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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