Kollontai Paving the Way

There were some major breakthroughs for women’s rights following the revolution, and Aleksandra Kollontai fought for those rights. One of these rights being the ability for a woman to divorce her husband without “obtaining his or any other permission.” (The New Woman) Social norms would be changed for women at home and in the workplace, as well as in politics. This development and improvement of women’s rights was a major accomplishment at the time. However, in implementing these changes brought other factors into play, one being integration of women into politics where young communists were prevalent.

The revolution affected the way gender roles were viewed, and communism contributed to that. The ideal young communist would show no feminine qualities and essentially drove women out of the Komosol. In fact, fathers would actively attempt to not let their wives or daughters to participate in the Komosol due to the nasty nature of how young communists conducted themselves.

Due to the mistreatment of females in the 1920’s, the only way to be around these young communists was to hinder or eliminate many or all feminine qualities. The People’s Commissar of Health Nikolai Semashko even stated that these women who dealt away with their feminine qualities were “disheveled, frequently dirty hair… [used a] deliberately rude voice” and that it was a violation of “nature itself.” (Revolutionary Manliness) When females are excluded and treated rudely for being feminine, and are not accepted when they part ways with it, it created a problem for women at that time.





2 thoughts on “Kollontai Paving the Way

  1. Hi David, this a great analysis of Soviet expectations of women. I’m glad that you noticed the double standard of women being criticized for being feminine but also for lacking femininity! Your post shows how complicated a time this was for women.


  2. I like the sentiment of your title, and agree that Kollontai really was a trail blazer where the overhaul of family law was concerned. How do we make sense of the attitudes toward women portrayed in the “Revolutionary Manliness” essay and what we saw in the film, Bed and Sofa? They seem pretty different, or?
    Also, maybe change out the image at the top of the post if you want to talk about the Komsomol and femininity? Or Kollontai? (The image you have is a demonstration for increased rations). Also important to indicate the image source.


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