Chinese Poster – “We have been pregnant with life, we want to safeguard life!”

We have been pregnant with life, we want to safeguard life!, 1957

The reason I chose this poster was not only because of its depiction of women, but what struck me most as its depiction of women of what seems to be different races. It is clear that all of these women are participating in traditionally female duties of raising a child (figuratively and literally). This is important to note as Chinese Communism sought to mobilize and empower all workers, regardless of gender, and yet there was still a division of labor based on sex and gender. I think this shows that despite how progressive the party wished to represent themselves, there was still (and continues to be) gender roles in the Chinese patriarchal social structure.

On a different note, the inclusion of women of different races tells me that this poster was meant to address more than just Chinese women, but instead women from all over the world. We see a woman of African decent, a Chinese woman, and a Caucasian woman all working together in an attempt to raise and support the infant. This image depicts a sense of unity among all women that transcends nation and race. The slogan “We have been pregnant with life, we want to safeguard life!” speaks to the empowerment of women to take pride in care giving and that raising children is something that all women (to a certain degree) can share in as it is part of their condition as members of the female sex. This poster was made in 1957 and is extremely progressive, in my opinion, in its depiction of various kinds of women connected through the feat of motherhood and caregiving. It certainly has a feminist undertone in that it promotes women supporting other women, yet feminism that doesn’t try to break down gender roles which would make sense in the 1950s.

I am interested to know for what purpose this poster was used by the government. I can assume it may have something to do with promoting the role of women as care-givers which would uphold the traditional Chinese culture. It was also reaffirm that women can “do their part” in a communist society by means of raising their children well and that motherhood and care-giving is a noble and important responsibility that all women should strive for or be proud of.

Designer: Zhang Longji (张隆基)
1957, February
We have been pregnant with life, we want to safeguard life!
Women yunyule shengming, women yao baowei shengming! (我们孕育了生命,我们要保卫生命!)
Publisher: Shanghai renmin meishu chubanshe (上海人民美术出版社)
Size: 77×53 cm.
Call number: BG E15/353 (Landsberger collection)


One Response to “Chinese Poster – “We have been pregnant with life, we want to safeguard life!””

  1. pbuterba Says:

    There are two places where we can see a dove in the poster. What could that mean? One at the top almost center and the other on the scarf of the Caucasian woman (I am glad you did not say white because she looks as if she is from the Caucasus region of the middle east) or Russian. “Congres Mondial des Meres” is French for World Congress of Mothers. The organization met in 1955 in Switzerland. Was it a communist organization?