Anti-abortion laws have been a bone of contention across the world for many decades. The fetus’s right to life and women’s right to choice are bound to divide everyone in political, feminist, medical and religious circles. The U.S. Supreme Court rule in 1973 gave women the right to abortion in the first six months of pregnancy, and pro-choice movements have continued since then not only in the United States but across the globe.
There was a large protest demanding that anti-abortion law be abolished on April 9, 1989. Barbara Kruger, a U.S. feminist and artist, produced a poster and distributed to protesters. The poster has a woman’s face in black and white and says in bold, “Your body is a battlefield,” capturing her anger and frustration about how men, not women, dominated discussions around the right to abortion. The original design included “support legal abortions” and “birth control and women’s rights” to clarify the artist’s intention which were taken out when it was made a large silk screen. It then took on additional meaning beyond reproductive rights to criticize a male-dominated society.
The woman’s face is split into two: The left side of the face shows what society expects a woman to be, whereas the right side represents a woman who fights against unfair systems. Kruger criticizes the media and adverts that continuously produce and perpetuate these stereotypes by portraying beautiful and passive women in positive light and active women with political views in negative light.
There are heated discussions about abortion once again across the world. Women are still more likely to be judged based on their appearance than men, which is why they cannot help but put in so much effort into their looks. Thirty years has passed, and Kruger’s cry is still relevant today. Your body is still a battleground.