This article looks at the experiences of foreigners in the Soviet Union of the 1930s, focusing on the divide between the public and the private. For Party members it was assumed that nothing could remain private or personal. In sessions of “criticism and self-criticism”, even intimate questions had to be put into the public domain, since a Party member's private life had to be exemplary. From a gender perspective, it is interesting to note that the leading justification for the public handling of private affairs in Party forums was the equality postulated between women and men, or more precisely between female and male Party members. In that sense, these discussions can be interpreted as potential tools in the hands of women to stigmatize “noncommunist” male behaviour, that is behaviour that degraded women. But the official attention given to private matters also served other means. For the Party leadership, these discussions proved instrumental in disciplining Party members, and in a particularly effective way, inasmuch as the persons concerned participated in the process. Despite the assumed gender equality, however, Soviet notions of private and public were not only constantly changing but also highly gendered. During the Terror, women and men became victims in different ways, thereby also highlighting their different social positions and functions.