Interview with Sarah Mellors

Photo of Sarah Mellors

Gender: Birth Control in China

You’ve probably heard of the One-Child Policy, a massive effort by the Chinese government to curtail population growth between 1979 and 2015. But much lesser known are is how birth control and family planning was practiced before this draconian policy took effect. In fact, during 1949-1979 the Chinese Communist Party tested out many of the strategies and methods of population control that would make up the One-Child Policy.

In Episode 2 of our Gender series, Galen Poor & Joy Block interview Sarah Mellors, an assistant professor of history at Missouri State University. Mellors interviewed more than fifty men and women in Shanghai to learn how birth control and family planning were practiced in 1950’s China. During this decade the Chinese government swung from encouraging endless population growth, to ambivalently urging restraint. But other factors like older cultural practices, livelihood and finances, and ideas about gender also shaped how Mellors’ subjects thought about birth control in the early Communist era. Join us in learning about how sex and birth control gradually spilled out of the bedroom to become an issue of public concern in the early Communist era.

Stream or download our conversation here.

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