Александра Михайловна Коллонтай

 
Alexandra Kollontai in Mexico in 1927

Alexandra Kollontai in Mexico in 1927

In 1918, the American periodical Current Opinion called her the “Heroine of the Bolsheviki upheaval in Petrograd” and announced its incredulous readers that “she holds a cabinet portfolio, dresses like a Parisian, and does not believe in marriage.” In 1925, the New York Times accused her of arranging fake marriages to promote “red propaganda” in Norway, where she served as ambassador. In 1927, the Washington Post revealed that the new Soviet diplomatic envoy to Mexico, “who has had six husbands,” had been refused entry into the United States because the Americans feared that she was a dangerous agitator.

 Alexandra Kollontai (1872-1952) was a socialist women's activist who had radical ideas about the intersections of socialism and women's emancipation. Born into aristocratic privilege, the Finnish-Russian Kollontai was initially a member of the Mensheviks before she joined Lenin and the Bolsheviks and became an important revolutionary figure during the 1917 Russian Revolution. Kollontai was a socialist theorist of women’s emancipation and a strident proponent of sexual relations freed from all economic considerations. After the October Revolution, Kollontai became the Commissar of Social Welfare and helped to found the Zhenotdel (the women's section of the Party). She oversaw a wide variety of legal reforms and public policies to help liberate working women and to create the basis of a new socialist sexual morality. But Russians were not ready for her vision of emancipation, and she was sent off to Norway to serve as the first Russian female ambassador (and only the third female ambassador in the world), beginning a long diplomatic career which culminated in her twice nomination for the Nobel Peace prize.

 

“Sexuality is a human instinct as natural as hunger or thirst”

Kollontai as a young woman in Tsarist Russia

Kollontai as a young woman in Tsarist Russia

This website is a work in progress and collects information and images about Kollontai for those interested learning more about her life and works.