3/11 – Response 2.2

March 7, 2019

Reading Assignment: Read the Alexandra Kollontai short story “Sisters” carefully, taking notes about the moments that stand out to you.

Writing Assignment: In a short response, bring the Kollontai story into conversation with the critical readings from Mina Loy (“Feminist Manifesto”) and Virginia Woolf (Chapter 5 of A Room of One’s Own). How does the story reflect certain themes from one or both of the readings? How does its example complicate theoretical assumptions?

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17 Responses to “3/11 – Response 2.2”

  1.   Wenhui Ding said:

    Sister mainly talks about the self-struggle of a woman going through the heart-breaking time. The woman was immersed in the dream fabricated by her perception on the world and her husband. We can see the feminism hidden between those lines. Before the marriage, she was a strong advocate who wants to reshape the world in a ideal way. She was making a decent salary which is enough to support her own life. At this point she was like the figure described in Loy’s paper. She was capable of competing with men in terms of career success. While the time off work, she was a politician who deals with local affairs. She was donating herself to reform the world. However, all of sudden, she felt desperate towards her life and her husband. She turned her anger to those women which brought by her husband. At this point, she was more similar to the conceptual figure about gaining equity among women in Woolf’s paper. She thought that it was those women’s fault to reap off her husband’s love for her. It is evitable for her to think that way. She still believed that her husband loved her. Finally, she realized the cruel fact that women were still weak in the comparative status. Again, she shifted back to the cognitive mode supported by Loy’s paper. Women were, indeed, experiencing discrimination from men. The overall theme of Sister is the rise of feminism. But Sister provides readers with more complicated scenarios to make the theme to fluctuate with the flow of plots. It is not one simple theme to give people guidance. It is to stimulate people to think more and provide them with some possible outcomes.

  2.   JiaJun Lin said:

    “Sisters” reflected the unfortunate and the helplessness of women. The housewife was described as miserable and powerless. She lost a job and her baby, then she realized she lost a husband too. These tragic series events are a symbolic representation for a woman. Looking back to “Feminist Manifesto”, messages and scaled words are now clearer to understand, women should be equal as men and men have no obligation to control over a woman both physically and mentally. From the sister passage, her husband manipulated her feelings by apologizing to her and making up to her. If she listened to herself and to cut the tie with her husband, then she could’ve suffered less than the pain she was going through. However, she was played by the feelings.

  3.   Rose Fattakhov said:

    “Sisters” by Alexandra Kollontai has a similar theme of feminism to Mina Loy’s “Feminist Manifesto” and Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own.” Loy has a very abrupt view of feminism, and strongly believes women are not equal to men, but are there to overpower men. Woolf’s interpretation of feminism is more subtle, and she just wants a sense of peace. You can see the difference in the pieces by just looking at them. The way Loy’s work is laid out is shown to cause a disruption. But Woolf’s work does not look any different to a work that could be anti-feminism.

    Kollontai’s work is written during the 1920’s, which was a big feminism period because women were granted the right to vote. There were also a lot of reforms in education and in the workplace. Even though, there was a lot of improvements toward feminism in this time, as shown in the short story, women were still afraid to leave their spouses if they were unhappy. There was a high chance of prostitution and ending up homeless. This was mentioned in Loy’s piece when she says, “As conditions are at present constituted – you have the choice between parasitism, and prostitution – or negation” (154). This means a woman can either live dependent on a man, or lonely and a prostitute. There is no option for a woman to be happy without a man in this time.

  4.   Alinoor Rahman said:

    “Feminist Manifesto” by Mina Loy and Virginia Woolf (Chapter 5 of A Room of One’s Own), each express their own perspectives on feminism. Specifically in “Feminist Manifesto,” Mina Loy expresses her belief that a women is not equal of that of a man. In addition she emphasizes in a more serious tone that women should be independent and to go even further, promoting individual freedom. She makes her message very bold and clear to her audience. Similarly, Virginia Woolf (Chapter 5 of A Room of One’s Own), took a similar approach but compares men and women rather then promoting how women are much greater then men. Instead she gives a more positive take on the differences between both. Both give their own take on feminism, with many similarities and contrasting differences.

    The short story sisters “Sisters” by Alexandra Kollontai, from the first page alone i get a sense of feminism independence from the girl who talks about loosing her child and job. The narrator speaks about the problems she has has with her husband. How he got a great job to support her when she was pregnant. He told her to quit her job, that he could take care of her. She refused as she said she was too “independent” to let go of her job. He eventually started drinking and brought home prostitutes. Around the end of the story she spoke to one of them and it made her realize that he wasn’t worth it. She had sympathy for the young girl her husband has brought home. She revalued her self worth, independence, and realized she didn’t need him to be financially stable nor be happy.

  5.   Brian Osorio said:

    Well, in the Feminist Manifesto it states that, “Woman is the equal of man- She is NOT” and in the Kollontai story you can clearly see that she is not. As the woman in the story, was her own person. She was not like her husband, she was not like man, in fact she was unique. She had her own things to do, just like her husband did, and she made sure she was okay along the whole way. As we all should do. They were both independent people, when the crêche closed down there was a bit of conflict, she had been self-reliant since she had left school, and she loved her friends at work and enjoyed the work that she did as well and for her to drop all that and become dependent on her husband was just very uncommon of her to do. It was as if she would be degrading herself. She was her own person, she was unique and just like this guy was trying to make a living for himself she was doing the same except on her own, as a woman. She loved the guy really, she genuinely cared for him she was his healing power and spirit, She was there for him physically and mentally. “She remonstrated with him, and he just drank his tea in silence. She cared for him but most importantly she cared about herself, and when she realized he did not give a damn about women, including her; Her old feelings of him died. ” There was no resentment, no pain now.” That healing power that this women provided for him was all gone now. Dead for him too. She was taken for granted, in a world when women had basically nothing, but dependency on men. She did not agree with this world and so became her own sharing her story for other women to realize the work that needs to be done to change everything that has happened up until now. Woman is not the equal of man. So does that mean we are all unique? Does that mean when we live up to that beautiful things will start to occur naturally? I believe so but it makes us question these things, is woman the equal of man?

  6.   Ayoub Janah said:

    The short story “Sisters” by:Alexandra Kollontai’s is written about the struggles of one woman who has faced isolation from her husband as they are separated. She faces unemployment because of her pregnancy. To begin with she was homeless for three weeks and has come for help and guidance. Her husband had good income but she does not agree with everything that he does which they don’t get along very well. The husband will come home in long nights drunk and will be sober the next morning. As her husband was into the business field he kept his stakes high up in business and used liquor as a way to cope with the stress of work. This led to the narrator feeling as if he doesn’t care for her no more. She was desperate and in fear. As it states, “You cannot imagine the wretchedness of those nights, sitting alone with my unhappy thoughts beside the baby’s bed. I was so desperately lonely, so anxious for the future!..Someone to whom I could speak of my fears, someone who loved the little one. If only he was not drunken.” The narrator let her husband in until she found that he brought another women with him. Domestic violence became an issue as the husband couldn’t control himself.She soon realized, it was inevitable for her not to stay and determined to leave. But the husband threatens who and she begins to question if he will ever do that again. They reconciled but it has left the narrator puzzled. The baby becomes sick in which dies soon after, the funeral is made but the father doesn’t show up, the mother is alone with only her deepest emotions. Throughout this short story you could see that she independent. She held on hope but it was slowly deteriorating so was love. It states, “I still hoped – something might happen – we women are so foolish.” The ending though is powerful. As it send a strong message to not only women but society as a whole. It explains how this corrupt system of young women who face poverty or are just displaced don’t have any options so they see prostitution as a way to get out of that hole. So men use this as women are selling their bodies… it’s unethical and wrong. As Alexandra states, “He who should have helped an unemployed comrade in her hour of need buys her body. … It was so utterly revolting that my mind was made up as she spoke. I could not live with a creature of that sort a moment longer.” What ends up happening is the narrator develops a connection with the prostitute as they share same experiences.The Feminist Manifesto has more of an aggressive and abrupt tone;their is so much passion going on.It gives a feeling of revolting and bringing an uprise in society.
    As for Sisters it’s more storytelling and emotion going on. Both deliver same concepts of women facing the absolute power that men take over and degrade them everyday. But point out how women face these troubles. I personally feel Feminist Manifesto was a response to the Sisters. Since Sisters goes on with the emotional route while Feminist Manifesto has a powerful message that sticks.

  7.   Rawdah Rahim said:

    Feminism has been expressed for decades in multiple arrays of literature work. Mina Loy demonstrates her message loudly in “Feminist Manifesto,” as the text from her piece screams out the page visually, expressing her anger with the society that is trying to find amends and equality between men and women, “She is NOT!” (Loy, 153). But that women are superior to men. Virginia Woolf’s Chapter 5 of A Room of One’s Own, uses a softer tone to explain the progress in the movement as women in literature had begun to get credited for their work. Looking surpass the differences in the texts, both authors layout a common theme of questioning society, is this all that society wants, a couple of books in a bookshelf and equality? Wolf and Loy push for their audiences to demand more than what they think is enough because equality is not what should be the end goal of feminism; instead, a woman’s value should be higher of a man’s.
    Set in the 1920s, Alexandra Kollontai short story “Sisters” frames two women who are in two different situations, as they bond over their struggle. The speaker starts her story explains why she had recently left her husband, has nowhere to go, and fears she may have to resort to prostitution. After her and her daughter’s illness, she was laid off from her job. Her husband, an executive in a government trust company, prefers that she stay home as a housewife, “but her work was important to her.” When worse comes to worst, as their daughter dies; he brings a prostitute home. The speaker is horrified, humiliated, and angry at the prostitute, but she sees the desperation in the young 19-year-old woman’s eyes, and as they talk, realizes she is an educated young woman without money or a roof over her head, starving, anguished. The storyteller realizes that if she hadn’t been married, she’d be in a similar situation. She leaves her husband when she becomes homeless and without a job. The story illustrates a pressing issue that Alexandra Kollontai had to fight for relentlessly, that women’s rights are an essential part of the revolution.
    Kollontai’s piece shadow points highlighted in Mina Loy’s work. The prostitute in Kollontai’s story falls in Mina Loy’s description when she states, “you can have the choice between Parasitism, & Prostitution-or Negation…” (Loy, 154). Society categorizes women in these areas that mostly have a negative connotation, but Loy displays a third option implying that you do not necessarily have to fulfill the stereotypical expectations of a woman. Kollontai’s piece also concentrates on the idea that just because someone chooses to become a prostitute, it doesn’t imply that they are dirty or bad humans. Once the speaker looked past her initial thoughts of the young 19-year-old, she had opened up expressing how sorry she was, explaining “He promised to pay me well. It’s the same to me as long as they pay well”. She started to tell me her story” (Kollontai). Her desperation for money for food and shelter directed her path for the actions she took. Also, the speaker herself is apart of the two classes that Mina Loy introduces, “the mistress & the mother, every well- balanced and developed woman knows that is not true…” (Loy, 154). At first, the speaker felt as if she needed to stay in one of the categories and she did to fulfill her role as a mother to her daughter, even if she had to deal with her husband’s drinking problem. Leaving him made her anxious because she did not want to turn to prostitution or as Mina Loy referred to as the “mistress” class. But after understanding how inconsiderate he was by taking advantage of a woman, she hoped to be independent even if that meant to go “on the streets like the girl” (Kollontai).

  8.   Terry Chen said:

    The readings “Sisters”, “Feminist Manifesto”, and “A Room of One’s Own” share similar themes and they compliment each other. For example, in “Feminist Manifesto” it states “Parasitism, & Prostitution” meaning that these are the two choices society has set for females to choose from. This point is depicted in the story “Sisters” where the wife realizes she would have the same fate as the prostitute her husband brought home. On page 249 it stated “Then it sunddely dawned on me that if i hadn’t bad a husband, I would have been in the same position as her, with no job and nowhere to live!” (10). Additionally, “Sisters” would agree with “A Room of One’s Own” considering that both readings touch upon taking advantage of women for pleasure and comfort. According to “A Room of One’s Own” it states “But we should wrong illustrious men very greatly if we insisted that they got nothing from alliances but comfort, flattery and the pleasures of the body” (22). This is supported in “Sisters” as it states “Instead of trying to help an unemployed friend, he bough her body for his own pleasure! This struck me as so vile that I immediately realized I couldn’t go on living with such a man” (16). The story “Sisters” share and agree with both “Feminist Manifesto” and “A Room of One’s Own” claims. The story hits most of the points that Virginia Woolf and Mina Loy said and expressed it within a story.

  9.   kyle swedin said:

    I believe the story Sisters, by Alexandra Kollontai has a similar theme to the story by Virginia Woolf. Sisters is about a single, grieving mother who recently lost her new born baby. In the story she goes to a woman for help to find a new job since she lost her old one and now she is living on the street. The theme I first picked up on was sadness and desperate times but toward the end it turned to wanting to help and understand someone which I think connects to Woolf’s story. Woolf discussed helpful ways to get women on the right track so that they can progress in society and eventually reach the goal of becoming equal members of society. The story of Sisters, I think, tackles the same problem in their own way. If the story was summed up in a few words it would be one woman helping another in need and working together. Virginia Woolf had this same idea. In both story’s the main idea was woman helping each other by coming and working together. One woman alone cant do it on her own and both emphasize why it is necessary and important to not only help each other but strive for something better for the future rather than Mina Loy’s perspective on things which is that man are inferior and woman need to take the power from them to use it for themselves.

  10.   Dejun Gao said:

    Two readings are sharing similar themes and they compliment each other. “Sisters” reflect the misery and helplessness of women. The housewife was described as miserable and helpless. She lost her job, her children and her husband, everything. These are precisely the symbolic representations of women. the main point is that Women should be equal, both physically and mentally. As said in the “feminist manifesto”. Judging from her sister’s words, her husband manipulated her feelings by apologizing to her and making up for her. If she listens to her opinions and cuts off her husband’s connection, her pain may be less than the pain she experienced. But she was impressed by this feeling.

  11.   Natalia Paredes said:

    In the story “Sisters” by Alexandra Kollontai, the story of the struggle of a woman is told. This woman faced different problems throughout the story, in first plane she had to leave her life aside in order to fulfill the necessities of her husband and daughter. She had a good job that she loved and also had a political career that really complemented her life, but while her career was at the highest point, her personal life was all the opposite. The love of her life, her husband became a drunk and her daughter was ill, this led to her losing her job because she had to take care of her daughter. This part of the story gives the reason to what Mina Loy point out in “The Feminist Manifesto” she said that people classify women in two types, the mother and the mistress, in the story the woman chose to take care of her sick daughter while her husband was having sex with a prostitute in the room next to her, and after that even though she was hurt, she stayed with him hoping things will change. After her daughter died the relationship with her husband was getting worse, but she didn’t have any money and she couldn’t get her old job back so she was stock with her husband who made enough money to support her. The last incident they had was when again he brought a prostitute home, but this time he was sober and she finally realized he didn’t love nor respect her, the next morning she encounter the prostitute and there was when she realize her fate. The young girl was prostituting herself because she lost her job and lived on the streets, then the woman saw herself in the young girl and saw that that would be her future if she leave her husband. Then again Mina Loy appears with her logic, women had to choose between being a parasite, being a prostitute or being in negation, in this situation the woman was being a parasite because she depended completely of her husband even though she was being miserable. In other hand the poor young girl had to choose the other path that was prostitution.

  12.   Matthew Outar said:

    Alexandra Kollontai’s Sisters draws a multitude of significant parallels with Mina Loy’s Feminist Manifesto. In the short story Sisters we are introduced to a woman who is going through a devastating domestic issue. We see this woman fall into a trap that is way too common. She tried to endure the abuse and cheating hoping it would get better however his behavior never changed. We see how her character changes as she becomes more and more dependent on her husband. At first, she had a career and was doing well however her poor relationship with her husband leads her down a dark path. She is forced into becoming this “parasite” as Mina Loy mentions in her Feminist Manifesto. This short story really unmasks the struggle of women in marriages as they can fall into this dependence status. This is reflected on page 245, “Now more than ever, I was terrified of becoming dependent on my husband” (Kollontai). They believe they need or should endure the anguish in order to have a better life for them and their children. Mina Loy criticizes this type of parasitism and dependent relationships. As an obvious feminist she wanted women to be independent and take charge of their own lives. In this short story we see how the prostitute the husband brings home and the wife represent the figures in Mina Loy’s work. The wife acknowledges her parasitic relationship and also realizes that she could have gone down the same path. Society often is quick to label women which a big point in both of these pieces. Often women such as in Sisters, will remain in a toxic situation in a n attempt to prevent the negative labeling and repercussions.

  13.   Veronica Pena said:

    The “Feminist Manifesto” and chapter 5 of “A Room of One’s Own” work to express the views of Mina Loys and Virgina Woolf’s towards feminism. Each talks about their beliefs about feminism. While Loy talks about how women are better than men and Woolf shows how they are equal, both use their work to deliver a message about how women can become better. Alexandra Kollontai’s story “Sisters” shows feminism differently. She gives readers a view of women’s life during the 1920s and the struggles they were faced with. Kollontai writes about the a woman’s life lived on her husband’s dependency. Similar to Loy, she shows that women either fit the role of wife or mistress. She shows how either option can lead to misery. The women in the story yearns for independence, a job where she no longer has to live off her husband, because of the pain he has caused her. She worries about how leaving her husband will lead to her living on the street and becoming a prostitute like a women her husband brought home. Having talked to one of them she learned how these women also suffer and have to live depending off men, albeit in a different form than she. Kollontai’s story leads one to think about women’s independence. What can they do to live a life where they don’t have to rely on men.

  14.   Jenson Hu said:

    “Sisters” by Alexandra Kollontai shows a story of a married woman who once had a loving husband, and it felt as if it were a family dream to achieve (having a kid, and having good jobs.) However, as the story continues, the husband starts to become a “different” person. He starts to fade away from becoming the husband of a family, and became someone who was more focused and cared more about the job rather than his wife and child. This story relates to both Mina Loy’s “Feminist Manifesto”.They both reflect on the view of feminisim. In “Sisters” they talk about how the woman is independent and no longer needs the husband any more. The man suggests that the wife take off work and tend to the child more and become a stay-at-home wife. This is similar to Mina Loy’s “Feminist Manifesto” in which she writes “Woman must become more responsible for the child than man — Woman must destroy in themselves, the desire to be loved.” This relates because the wife was the one who was taking most of the responsibility for the child, while the husband was away for a few months for working purposes. Yet, when he came back, he became a changed man. He didn’t want to be in a family, and he even brought home other woman to his house. In order for the wife to get over these actions, she must lose the desire to be loved from the husband.

  15.   Jason Jiang said:

    The Story “Sisters” reflect certain themes from “Feminist Manifesto” as in the story “Sisters” It was about a woman who wanted to work and take care of herself without relying too much on the husband. After she lost her job due to her kid, her husband brought up the subject of how she was so lucky to live off him. This connects with the “Feminist Manifesto” as it tells women to take a stand and become better than men as they are not equal. They connect because the protagonist wants to take care of herself and her child, but due to her husband who has a high position she is the one that must sacrifice her work to take care of the baby while the husband does whatever he wants. The feminist manifesto is basically telling her to stop relying on the man as he only looks at her as an object and doesn’t really love her and instead become better than him as he is not equal to her. Feminist Manifesto challenges the view of men having absolute power and the choices woman make. It can be seen a response to the story “Sisters” as many of the points brought up in a “Feminist Manifesto” is proven here, like how woman have 3 choices “prostitution, parasitism, or negation. Parasitism is shown from the wife’s position relying on her husband after losing her job, or the many prostitutes the husband brings back from time to time.

  16.   Navneet Kaur said:

    The story “sisters” and the “Feminist Manifesto” reflect a similar theme. “Sisters” was a story that showed the hardships of being a women. It portrayed a women that once was extremely happy with her life but as it slowly progressed it turned into something she couldn’t even imagine. Her once loving husband turned out to slolwly be abusive and cheated on her. With this shock she bettered her self and started working for herself. She didn’t rely on her husband anymore. She became a person for her own and put herself first, gave her self and identity and became into something that’s Mina Loy actually aspired women to be. In Loys “Feminist Manefeato” the women she had become was exactly what she had outlined. Taking in consideration her underlined words and very dramatic statements it became evident that Loy wanted women to be a person for themselves and not too look for identity in men. She does claim that men and women aren’t equal and says that to signify that women should be one for themselves just like what the lady had became in that story.

  17.   Anthony Gringas said:

    There are themes from “Sisters” that are matched by the ones placed by Mina Loy in the, “Feminist Manifesto” and by Virginia Woolf in chapter 5 of, “A Room of One’s Own.” Each talk about the inequality and injustice faced by woman of society. However, Loy takes a much more stronger approach than Woolf in the fact that she gets angry. Loy states, “She is NOT!” They both tell the reader women should demand more and expect more because it is what they deserve. The protagonist in “Sisters” faces a tragic, but mainstream or common issue faced by many woman. The story goes that her husband falls out of love with her, while she must sit and watch and experience the hardships that come with it. Her husband is a drunk, and she must deal with her job, upkeep of the house, and the supporting of her child. Her child ends up dying, and yet the husband still does not step up and continues to neglect family life. He even makes things worth spiritually and emotionally by brining in other women home in front of his wife. One woman claimed she was stuck in this line of work at a young age due to obligations and nowhere else to turn. The protagonist realizes she would soon to be in that situation as her husband provides for the money and the house bills. If she was ever to leave she too would have nowhere to go. This highlights the ” prostitution, parasitism, or negation” idea from the “Feminist Manifesto” The characters were either forced to live with and off of a second party (husband), to prostitute themselves, and as for negation it could be living in denial of the sad reality.

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