Since its origins, the Communist Party strove to free the Chinese people from the long-established feudal and classist institutions, traditions, and beliefs. Women were especially affected by the Communist policy; in a deeply patriarchal society, women traditionally had few rights and were often treated as property by their families. The founding of the People’s Republic of China granted women freedoms and opportunities previously barred to them. The ancient practice of foot-binding was banned; women were allowed to pursue higher education, work in factories, and were even encouraged to join the People’s Liberation Army and the Communist Party as full members.
Works of art produced during the Cultural Revolution often celebrated the Communist Party’s egalitarian treatment of men and women as comrades. Moreover, they highlight the power of women— as members of the working force and army— to continue the class struggle against capitalism. The ceramics in this section celebrate the strength of women and illustrate their new revolutionary roles as workers, healthcare providers, and perhaps most jarringly, soldiers prepared to engage in armed combat.