Alexandra Mikhailovna Kollontai (1872-1952) was a Russian Communist revolutionary, first as a member of the Mensheviks, then from 1914 on as a Bolshevik. In 1919 she became the first female government minister in Europe. In 1923, she was appointed Soviet Ambassador to Norway, becoming the world's first female ambassador in modern times.
Between 1918 and 1923 Kollantai wrote several articles and novellas that discussed the relationship between women and men that should prevail in a socialist society. True to her Marxist beliefs, she advocated the complete abolition of existing family structures. In their place would be created the 'Winged Eros,' heterosexual love based on erotic attraction and shared commitment to the building of a new society.
Kollontai's first publications were studies of the Finnish economy, notable only for demonstrating her mastery of Marxism. By 1905 she had found the issue that would occupy much of her career--the emancipation of women. Her first major work on the subject--The Social Bases of the Woman Question (1908)--was a lengthy attack on Russian feminism joined with a plea for the Social Democrats to make an effort to attract women to their ranks.
While the world was shocked by rumors of the "nationalization of women," much Communist thought exhibited a glowing idealism about the future free and equal relationship of the sexes after abolition of the "slavery" of the "bourgeois" family. The most famous exponent of this idea--in practice as well as theory--was Alexandra Kollontai, a paragon of revolutionary idealism and the first Commissar of Social Welfare. She was a leader in the ultra-left "Workers' Opposition" movement of 1920-21, but later made her peace with Stalin and enjoyed a long career as a Soviet diplomat.
In November 1918, Kollontai achieved her first political success by organizing the first Women's Congress in Moscow. Over a thousand red-kerchiefed activists crossed the war zone to participate in this event.
The task of proletarian ideology is not to banish Eros from the social community, but only to rearm its quiver with the arrows of a new structure, to nurture the feeling of love between the sexes in the spirit of the greatest force, comradely solidarity.
In 1916 she toured the USA, speaking out against American intervention in the First World War. Following the October Revolution, and as the only woman in the Lenin cabinet, Kollontai became commissar for public welfare. One of her projects in that capacity was the short-lived Ministry for Motherhood which was meant to provide communal spaces and state support for the upbringing of children.
After the 1917 revolution she became the world’s first female government minister. In 1923, she was appointed ambassador to Norway.
Born into an aristocratic family, Kollontai became a revolutionary after a horrific visit to a vast textile mill in 1896...This experience changed her life. She read Karl Marx, joined Marxist groups in St Petersburg and supported the strikes that were sweeping Russia.
She was born in 1872 as Aleksandra Mikhailovna Domontovich to a wealthy former general in the tsar's army, a fairly liberal and erudite man. Her mother, from whom Aleksandra undoubtedly inherited an assertive and independent nature, was herself a rebel of sorts. Six years before Aleksandra's birth she left her first husband, and from her passionate love with Mikhail Domontovich she bore a son and two daughters.
Following the October Revolution, the Bolshevik Alexandra Kollontai persuaded Lenin to make it an official holiday in the Soviet Union, and it was established, but was a working day until 1965. On May 8, 1965 by the decree of the USSR Presidium of the Supreme Soviet International Women's Day was declared a non working day in the USSR.