During the 1920s, unmarried
and employed women, like Zhenya, in the story “Three Generations,” were
the ones that heavily rely on abortion. Living outside the large, extended
household, urban women had less incentive to bear children. The transition
to wage labor and the elimination of the family as the basic unit of production
encouraged women to reduce family size. As women began to enter the workforce,
the birthrate dropped and family size decreased from 4.26 in 1927 to 3.8
in 1935 (Goldman 313).
The groups with the highest rates of abortion were the women in the free
professions. Abortion thus became very appealing to urban women in the
In both short stories, Alexandra Kollontai is concerned with the complicated connections between personal life and political ideas, and is convinced that the relations between the sexes must be freed from the restraints imposed by women’s social dependence on men. In her two stories, Alexandra Kollontai writes about the transformation of the family and the conflicts between family and work faced by Vasilisa Malygina, Olga Sergeevna and her daughter Zhenya. She also describes a period when people are loyal to the collective family rather than to the disintegrating nuclear family. The author strongly advocates the personal freedom for these individual and the elimination of religious and state authority in matters of their sexual choice.