Thursday, February 19, 2015

Alexandra Kollontai
Red Pepper Posters
Silkscreen, 1985
San Francisco, CA

Poster Text:  “For it is not her specific feminine virtue that gives woman a place of honor in human society, but the worth of her useful work accomplished for society, the worth of her personality as human being, as creative worker, as citizen, thinker, or fighter.”
Alexandra Kollontai (1872-1952) Russian revolutionary, feminist writer
© Red Pepper Posters, P.O. Box 11308, San Francisco, CA 94101

Poster of the Week:  The Valentine Weekend blockbuster, “50 Shades of Grey,” is raising many questions about identity, sexuality, liberation and exploitation.  CSPG’s Poster-of-the-Week offers an alternative view of a sexually liberated woman, along with a couple of feminist critiques of the film.

Alexandra Mikhaylovna Kollontai 1872 - 1952) was a Russian Communist revolutionary who became People's Commissar for Social Welfare, after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. She was the most prominent woman in the Soviet administration and was best known for founding the Zhenotdel or "Women's Department" in 1919 . This organization worked to improve the conditions of women's lives in the Soviet Union, fighting illiteracy and educating women about the new marriage, education, and working laws put in place by the Revolution. She was well recognized later for socialist feminism. The Zhenotdel was eventually closed in 1930.

Alexandra Kollontai is a profoundly unusual figure in the history of the Soviet Union, as she was an "Old Bolshevik" and a major public critic of the Communist Party who was neither purged nor executed by the Stalin regime, though as a diplomat serving abroad, she had little or no influence in government policy or operations and so was effectively exiled.

Kollontai's views on the role of marriage and the family under Communism were arguably more subversive and more influential on today's society than her advocacy of "free love." Kollontai believed that, like the state, the family unit would wither away once the second stage of communism became a reality. She viewed marriage and traditional families as legacies of the oppressive, property-rights-based, egoist past. Under Communism, both men and women would work for, and be supported by, society, not their families. Similarly, their children would be wards of, and reared basically by society. Kollontai admonished men and women to discard their nostalgia for traditional family life.

Thank you Sarah Mason and Joan Sekler for sending the following Feminist Critiques:

When will we ever learn?

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