Alexandra Kollontaj


Alexandra Kollontaj, real name Alexandra Michajlovna Domontovic, nicknamed Sura, is a Russian revolutionary of Marxist and feminist orientation, the first woman in history to have held the position of minister and to be ambassador to European countries.

Alexandra was born in 1872 in St. Petersburg to a family of Russian high society, so she received an excellent private education. Destined for an arranged marriage, she decides to go against the family by marrying an engineer (whose surname she will keep). The marriage is short-lived, but it allows her to attend the factories and learn about the reality of the workers. This is how she became passionate about their cause and decided to enroll in the Faculty of Economics at the University of Zurich (which in 1867 was the first in the world to allow women to attend its courses). During this period Alexandra studied Marxist theory, finding in it what she had seen in the factories. She returns to Russia worried that the new European revisionist theories could undermine the revolutionary cause, which according to her had to remain faithful to Marxism.

In Russia she became one of the most influential agitators and began to take an interest in women's rights: her basic theory was that the women's question was inevitably linked to the class question and that the women's movement could not exist without also fighting to overthrow the system.

In 1907 she tries to create a women's division in the Russian Social Democratic Workers Party, with the aim of dealing with the fact that women are overburdened with work as workers, housewives and mothers. This attempt goes wrong, she is accused of feminism by the party leadership, referring to the European feminism of the bourgeoisie, guilty of not embracing the communist cause; precisely those from which Kollontaj tries in every way to dissociate herself. A proof of dissociation from such movements is her analysis on the relationship between the sexes, on sexuality and romantic love, identifying in them the root of female oppression and investigating the conflict between public and private. Love, then, is an expression of the domination of one class over another, not only of the bourgeois over the proletarian, but also of man over woman. Hierarchy insinuates itself within the family, assigning the woman the care of the home and the man the wage labor, but also in sexual roles, revealing a relationship between oppressed and oppressor that is ignored in the class struggle. The most striking example of sexual inequality is the bond of fidelity: mandatory for women but not for men. The direct consequence of such an ideological structure is that overcoming the bourgeoisie would also imply a rethinking of intimate, love and sexual relations.

The Party ignores her ideas, considering them subversive.

From 1908 to 1917 Alexandra leaves Russia because of the political persecution of the Tsar, in addition to the cultural and political isolation in which she finds herself: in the Party no one took her proposals seriously, not even Lenin who wanted her both in the Executive Committee of the Petersburg Soviet and, after the victory of the Revolution, as people's commissar (i.e. minister) for social assistance. Period in which she distributed to the peasants the lands belonging to the monasteries, established the state kindergartens and maternity care.

Kollontaj begins to distance herself more and more from the Bolshevik party both for political reasons and for the devaluation of her ideas on the female question. In 1920 she was totally marginalized politically, she was even prevented from attending the conference of the Third Congress of the Communist International (Comintern) because of her hostility to the NEP, the new economic policy that partially restored private trade and that Kollontaj believed could give new impetus to the exploitation of prostitution, against which she fought fiercely. The fact that she was removed from the Central Committee did not prevent her from being one of the organizers of the First Congress of Russian Working Women from which Zenotdel was born (an organization for the promotion of women's participation in public life, for social initiatives and the fight against illiteracy). Thanks to its initiatives, women obtained the right to vote and to be elected, the right to education and a salary equal to that of men. Divorce is introduced, the right to abortion (removed by Stalin and reintroduced after his death).

He dies in 1952 in Moscow.

Kollontaj remains, even today, an unwelcome figure in the memory of the Soviet Union, precisely because of her determination to denounce the patriarchal mentality: the proletariat is not made up of men only, but also of women, who in addition to fighting against the master must also fight against their own husbands, who are in fact their masters. Convinced that with the Revolution of 1917 women enter the era of their liberation both from capitalist exploitation and from the condition of exploitation and inferiority as women.

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  • L'Autore

    Irene Ghirotto

    Irene Ghirotto è laureata in Educazione Sociale e Culturale presso l’Alma Mater Studiorum di Bologna.
    Nella sua tesi di laurea in “Empowerment e strategie di cittadinanza attiva” ha osservato come la lingua italiana sia usata in modo sessista e la necessità di modificarla per raggiungere una reale parità di genere, che è uno dei diritti umani essenziali. È un’attivista femminista intersezionale, ritiene che bisogna cambiare la cultura patriarcale in cui viviamo, poichè produce oppressioni e discriminazioni verso la maggior parte delle persone, togliendo loro non solo opportunità di migliorare le personali condizioni di vita ma anche i diritti umani di base che dovrebbero essere garantiti a chiunque. Per poter contribuire a questo cambiamento e andare verso un mondo più equo, ha fatto attività di volontariato presso una Casa delle Donne occupandosi della parte di comunicazione e sensibilizzazione sulle questioni di genere, inoltre, ha contribuito alla formazione di un Collettivo transfemminista LGBT+ che si occupa principalmente di informare e formare su svariate tematiche come: violenza sistemica e violenza sulle donne, identità di genere, decostruzione di stereotipi tossici.
    Pensa che per riuscire a creare un mondo più equo bisogna partite dalla scuola, dove introdurre l’educazione: sentimentale e sessuale; ai generi; anti-razzista, solo così si può capire il rispetto verso se stesse/i e le altre persone. In Mondo Internazionale ricopre il ruolo di autrice nell’area di Diritti Umani e in particolare nella sezione Domina.

    Irene Ghirotto graduated in Social and Cultural Education at the Alma Mater Studiorum in Bologna.
    In her thesis on "Empowerment and active citizenship strategies" she noted that the Italian language is used in a sexist way and the need to change it to achieve real gender equality, that is one of the essential human rights. She is an intersectional feminist activist, she believes that we need to change the patriarchal culture in which we live, because it produces oppression and discrimination against most people, taking away from them not only opportunities to improve personal living conditions but also basic human rights that should be guaranteed to anyone. To contribute to this change and move towards a more equitable world, has volunteered at a Women’s House dealing with the communication and awareness of gender issues, in addition, she has contributed to the formation of an LGBT+ Transfemminist Collective which is primarily concerned with informing and training on various topics such as: systemic violence and violence against women, gender identity, deconstruction of toxic stereotypes.
    She thinks that to succeed in creating a more equitable world it is necessary to start from school, where to introduce education: sentimental and sexual; gender; anti-racist, only in this way we can understand the respect towards ourself/s and other people. In the International World she holds the role of author in the area of Human Rights and in particular in the section Domina.



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