In this episode, Kristen R. Ghodsee's reads the fourth 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, although by the end of the essay she begins to display a more strident allegiance to the total transformation of society demanded by the socialists.
This is Part IV of a multi episode series, and here Ghodsee discusses the problem of "free love" under capitalism. Basically, Kollontai argues that there can be no real "free love" unless there is a fundamental transformation in the social relations of society. She discusses the sexual harassment and abuse that female employees and domestic workers often face at the hands of their bosses, and how the idea of "free love" can be used to excuse the sexual predations of men in positions of power. But perhaps the most interesting questions raised in this part of the book is whether or not you can build a collective society on the base of individualistic family relations, or whether the socialization of the family should proceed the socialization of the means of production.
Also see: AlexandraKollontai.com