Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Anti-American Art: This Is My Rifle, This Is My... Shell

"The Vietnamese People Must Win!" reads this oddly blocky 1960s Chinese poster. A Vietnamese soldier and a militiawoman gaze loftily into the distance as American planes fall from the reddened sky in the background. But it's hard to remove one's gaze from the remarkably phallic artillery shell the soldier holds with his chunky hand. His companion has her own weapon but his is clearly the most powerful.

The lip service Cultural Revolution-era Chinese propaganda paid to gender equity is commendable. Women were shown to be the equals of men quite matter of factly in posters like this one. It's interesting that since downfall of Mao's widow Jiang Qing shortly after the Chairman's death, the Chinese Communist Party seems, at least to the casual outside observer, completely male dominated. For all Madame Mao's vanities and excesses her role in the cultural aesthetic of classic Maoism was remarkably proto-feminist. I wonder what the political future of women is in capitalist road China.

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