SGS Celebrates Graduate Student Winners of Federal Tri-Council Awards – Jordyn Bailey

Author: Andrea

Posted on Aug 25, 2021

Category: Student Stories , Money Matters

Profile of Jordyn Bailey

Award Received: Canada Graduate Scholarship, Doctorate (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council)

Awarded for the project: Intimate Exercises: Sexpionage in the East German STASI, 1968-1989

Faculty: Arts

Department: History

Project supervised by: Lisa Todd, PhD

Although all major powers secretly gathered intelligence on each other during the Cold War, the German Democratic Republic (GDR) devoted more resources than any other European country to the use of sex in espionage. I investigate the complicated nature of collaboration and consent between the GDR’s Ministerium für Staatssicherheit (Ministry of State Security – STASI) and its female agents during the Cold War. As the self-proclaimed ‘sword and shield’ of the ruling Socialist Unity Party (SED), the STASI was a highly effective surveillance institution with a massive network of amateur informants. Some women informed for the agency voluntarily. Others, categorized by STASI as ‘prostituting citizens’ or ‘women with frequently changing sexual partners’, were viewed as the disposable underclass of the GDR and strong-armed into the role. Through the examination of memoirs and medical histories of former agents in addition to official STASI records from the Federal Commissioner for the Records of the State Security Service in Berlin, my research shows that the intelligence agency’s state-sanctioned, misogynistic system of discipline reduced vulnerable groups of women to the corporal and exploited their bodies for their political advantage. This sheds new light on patriarchal realities of a socialist state that simultaneously championed, and limited, gender equality.