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The Pill Expo | The contraceptive pill, a 20th century game changer

Why was the birth control pill a game changer in the twentieth century and why has it become even more controversial today? These are the central questions we discuss and try to answer through our exhibition.

With this exhibition we want to show the history of contraception and how it was life-changing for women. The expo will address topics like the pill-taking in the twentieth century, the role of the pharmaceutical industry in shaping the understanding of the pill by the public and the influence it had on social and religious lives.

Our first brainstorming session was in October 2020 after our group, based on the members’ interests and preferences, was assigned the project Europeana XX: Century of Change with the goal to create a digital exhibition. The theme had to be of our common choice as long as it fell under the category of A game changer of the 20th century, something that shaped the world to what it is today in its respective area. We quickly realized that themes related to gender were present among everyone’s proposals and that all members found this broad topic very interesting, identifiable and important. As a group of six young women from various backgrounds, inclined towards liberal ideologies and pro-body-choices, we all enthusiastically agreed the The Pill was the best topic to represent.

It is a matter of gender equality in a wider sense. A societal change that tackled the way of living for millions of women who for the last six decades have now the choice and power to effectively control their fertility. Who are consequently empowered and in charge of their personal, social, professional, educational and political aspirations.

By devoting this exhibition to contraceptive pills as a game changer during the previous century, we intend to touch upon the history of contraception and how it rewrote the fate of women’s lives. Today’s rights and the right of choice were not always a given, on the contrary. They were and had to be fought for, by generations of women and their allies. At the same time, we want to show there is a lot of controversy around the pill as we can detect today under the prism of a new century and a new generation of feminism.

As none of us have ever done a task similar to an online exhibition, it will be of a great learning potential and experience for all of us. Europeana represents a wide variety of heritage objects (over 50 million). We find this opportunity to be a great challenge to assemble pieces of history, social and political debates, photographs and quotes to try and represent these magnificent stories that shifted reality from what it was, and still continues to do so. We want this exhibition to be a reminder of the events that lead to the creation of The Pill, how it changed the world and the impact it still has today. Certain social and political changes accompanied the contraceptive pills. We want to share these stories and show how these were depicted during different times. 

A digital exhibition is not a social history book. We want to give a hint to what happened, and establish that the concerns, the conservative opinions, even the backlash are still happening. We intend to contribute to the emancipation of women by creating an alternative online exhibition with important, carefully selected content for art lovers in these difficult times. People very much still, if not more, want culture.  

So, we expect everyone to join us in this journey of discovery of women’s needs and accomplishments regarding their emancipation. Hopefully to be inspired by the material selected and face today’s challenges of equality, feminism, emancipation and human rights, with a more informed eye.

The exhibition launches 9th April so mark it in your calendars and we’ll see you there!

In the meantime, you can find us on social media:

Facebook: The Pill Expo (https://www.facebook.com/The-Pill-Expo-109756864504540)

Instagram: @the_pill_expo (https://www.instagram.com/the_pill_expo/)

Twitter: @ExpoPill (https://twitter.com/ExpoPill)

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