Communism in the USSR certainly had some shortcomings, but in at least one aspect it was way ahead of the West.
For example, this month marks the 50th anniversary of an event that firmly reminds us how far ahead the Soviets were concerning women.
It had nothing to do with the more frivolous aspects of a feminine life under the communist regime (the miniskirt was launched way earlier in New York than in Moscow); the Soviets launched a woman into space 20 years before the Americans.
Twenty-six-year-old Valentina Tereshkova, a former textile factory worker from a small village, blasted off in Vostok 6, 50 years ago on June 16, 1963. She was selected along with four other young women 16 months earlier, following an edict from the chief designer of the Russian space program, Sergei Korolev, that the recruitment of cosmonauts must include five women.
One attribute contributing to her selection was that she was an experienced and enthusiastic parachutist. Unlike in American space flights, which on re-entry landed the whole capsule gently in the ocean, Russian cosmonauts were ejected from their capsule and parachuted to the surface, before it crashed to the ground.
She remained in space for three days. The flight was not without concerns - the capsule was inserted into orbit at a dangerously wrong angle, and she threw up during the flight. Her recently published memoir, however, suggests she vomited not because of space sickness but the quality of her rations. Furthermore, because of high winds, she made a hard landing, bruising her face and requiring heavy make-up for public appearances. Nevertheless, at the end of it all she had flown in space for longer than all the male American astronauts combined to that date, and the US didn't catch up until 1983, when Sally Ride became the first American woman into space.