Free Love and Communism: The Alexandra Kollontai Story



No matter the time period, no matter the location, the status of women has always been in question. As the Bolsheviks came to power, women in Russia began to see themselves on a more equal field; legislation like the Code on Marriage, the Family and Guardianship made divorce easier for women, children born out of wedlock received rights and both spouses were finally given the right to own property. With laws like this, Russia, although not perfect in the eyes of feminists, was one of the most progressive countries at the time in terms of gender (Seventeen Moments).

One woman in particular, Alexandra Kollontai, made huge strides to promote the equality of women. During her studies, Kollontai became fascinated with Marxism; she wanted social equality for all, and especially amongst her female peers. She became the Commissar of Social Welfare, making her the most important woman in the new government. Kollontai founded the Zhenotdel, the women’s branch of the Communist Party, in which she attempted to liberate women by educating them about the new gender reforms.

While she had many visions throughout her political career, perhaps her most interesting was her promotion of Free Love. She did not promote “casual sex” per se, but she believed that women’s sexuality was oppressed. According to her Theses on Communist Morality in the Sphere of Marital Relations, she stated that “sexuality is a human instinct as natural as hunger or thirst.” As a communist, she did not support the idea of a traditional family unit; in her eyes, citizens would be supported, not by their families, but by society. Treating women as property was not something she wanted to continue in Russia.

Later in her career, she became a diplomat, working in various countries around the world. Unfortunately, she was never allowed in the United States, but had posts in Norway and Mexico. Her writings continued to be influential during the Feminist Movement of the 1970s.


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