If I Could Wish for Something

A book of essays, visual and textual (2021)

Edited by Dora García

With contributions by Antonio Cataldo, Saddie Choua, Paloma Contreras Lomas, Dora García, Agnieszka Gratza, Carla Lamoyi, Hilde Methi, Andrea Valdés, Sayak Valencia and Pieternel Vermoortel.

If I Could Wish for Something tells, from various viewpoints, the fascinating, intense, and rather melancholic love story between socialism and feminism. Along the way it offers insights into the connections between women and written language, as well as various forms of inclusive femininity that go by many different names.

The shadow of the Bolshevik revolutionary, sexual activist and diplomat Alexandra Kollontai looms large throughout this book. Two ideas from Kollontai’s legacy are explored in particular. Firstly, that of ‘the new woman’: from the new Socialist era emerged a new kind of woman that not only sought economic emancipation but also to completely subvert the established social and familial structures. The second idea is that of ‘comradely love’: Kollontai predicted not only that the bourgeois family would disappear, but also romantic love. Love would transcend the couple, she believed, to be channeled to the community, thus becoming a revolutionary, unifying force.

The title If I Could Wish for Something is taken from Friedrich Holländer’s Weimar song ‘Wenn ich mir was wünschen dürfte’. The lyrics are sung from the perspective of a woman who seeks to be happy, but not too happy, as sadness has become a refuge for her. This feeling is typical of the fraught ‘love story’ between feminism and socialism, between love and revolution. ‘The women’s question’ has been tiptoed around by every revolutionary movement since the nineteenth century. These decades of disillusionment are part and parcel of feminist history.

The book is available in Netwerk Aalst and on the website of Idea Books

228 pgs
11 x 18 cm
illustrations in full colour & b/w
Hardcover, sewn bound
ISBN 9789081080064