In this episode, Kristen R. Ghodsee's reads the third part of her selections from Alexandra Kollontai's 1909 book, The Social Basis of the Woman Question. This manuscript was written while Alexandra Kolllontai was in exile from Tsarist Russia and affiliated with the German Social Democratic party. This is a key text in the history of socialist feminism, and is seen by many as a foundational document in distinguishing the "bourgeois feminists" from the socialists. In this essay, Kollontai is clearly a social democrat and an advocate for reformist social democratic politics. She only becomes a Bolshevik in 1914, and eventually becomes an anarchist, and finally a Stalinist. Ghodsee argues that contemporary leftists should also be "left fluid," or open to all leftist perspectives and willing to cooperate with those who have different visions for how we get to a most just, equitable, and sustainable future.
This is Part III of a multi episode series, but it marks the first time that Ghodsee discusses Kollontai's sometimes controversial views about sex work. Kollontai has often been seen as an enemy of sex work because of her condemnation of prostitution, but it is very important to understand that Kollontai condemns a society in which all women are forced to sell themselves to men, either as prostitutes or as dependent wives. She views both the prostitute and the dependent wife as victims of a capitalist society, which commodifies women's care work and sexuality. Kollontai strives to build a society where both prostitution and bourgeois monogamous marriage are both unnecessary institutions because women have the social supports to find true emancipation.
Also see: AlexandraKollontai.com