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A Diversity of Women

A Diversity of Women: Women in Ontario since 1945

Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 335
  • Book Info
    A Diversity of Women
    Book Description:

    Our perception of women's roles has changed dramatically since 1945. In this collection Joy Parr has brought together ten studies from a variety of disciplines examining changing ideas about women.

    Mariana Valverde writes about teenage girls in the immediate postwar years and finds that stereotypes of a supposedly simple, secure, politically quiescent, and sexually conformist life do not really hold. Joy Parr follows women shoppers of the early 1950s, in their sometimes comical encounters with male designers, manufacturers, and retailers, in search of the tools and totems of modernity for their homes. Increasingly these homes were in suburban subdivisions, whose pleasures and possibilities for women Veronica Strong-Boag reconsiders. Joan Sangster reminds us that wage-earning mothers were numerous in the fifties and sixties, and through a juxtaposition of their own stories with contemporary studies tells much about these self-denying women's lives. Franca Iacovetta discusses the experiences of immigrant and refugee women in northwestern and south-central Ontario, experiences that were interpreted through their starkly different European wartime memories. Based upon her work among the rural women of southwestern Ontario, Nora Cebotarev charts the changes that transformed farm families and finances from the sixties to the eighties. Ester Reiter compares the recollections of women who had worked together during the 1960s in an auto parts plant in the Niagara Peninsula with contemporary newspaper accounts of a strike, and leads us into a complex narrative of gender and militancy. Nancy Adamson reconsiders the diversity of feminist organizing within the province over the decades since second-wave feminism began; she tracks the different needs and paths that brought women to the women's liberation movement and the ways in which their feminist analysis arose from their experience as community activists. Linda Cardinal writes about Franco-Ontarian women, charting the ways in which feminist activists challenged and were challenged as they worked with traditional farm and church-based women's groups in northern and eastern Ontario. Marlene Brant Castellano and Janice Hill introduce us to four aboriginal women: Edna Manitowabi, Jeannette Corbiere Lavell, Sylvia Maracle, and Emily Faries, whose work has been to reclaim and build upon the knowledge and responsibilities long entrusted to the women of Ontario's First Nations.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7031-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. vii-ix)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. x-x)
  5. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 3-18)

    For the first generation of Canadian feminists in the early twentieth century, women were defined starkly by what they were not. They were not men, and therefore they were not voters, candidates for public office, professionals, or soldiers. Reform-minded women and men relied on a single unifying equation of womanhood with motherhood, and worked to create new rights and roles for women by expanding the definition of the mother role. Their philosophical discussions were of the ʹwoman questionʹ and their political campaigns centred on the struggle for ʹwoman suffrage.ʹ

    Today the search to know women through their common womanhood, and...

  7. Building Anti-Delinquent Communities: Morality, Gender, and Generation in the City
    (pp. 19-45)

    Most of us think of the postwar period as one of exceptional moral, social, and political conformity. We know that Canadians were getting married in larger numbers, at younger ages, and in more lasting unions than the generations before and after.¹ We also know that this period saw the building of massive suburbs planned for middle-class couples to bring up nearly identical children in nearly identical houses, away from the moral corruption of the inner city. But we donʹt choose to know that the number of women in the labour force, though temporarily falling in 1945–6, continued to rise all...

  8. ′Their Side of the Story′: Women′s Voices from Ontario Suburbs, 1945–60
    (pp. 46-74)

    Released from the uncertainty and despair of the Great Depression and the Second World War, Canadians in the 1940s and 1950s dreamed of better times. At the centre of such aspirations for many thousands of women and men lay a suburban landscape where a non-wage-earning wife/mother presided over a home removed from both urban chaos and rural poverty. Ontario, the richest of the provinces, led the nation in experimenting with the suburban settings desired by an estimated 42.9 per cent of prospective house buyers in 1945.¹ Towns and cities, especially larger centres like Toronto, soon struggled to cope with the...

  9. Shopping for a Good Stove: A Parable about Gender, Design, and the Market
    (pp. 75-97)

    We are accustomed to thinking of women as shoppers and shoppers as women. ʹBorn to shopʹ bumper stickers are affixed (whether sardonically, wearily, or proudly) to cars driven by women rather than by men. Described for a decade as something women do by nature, that they are born to, shopping has been proclaimed by talk-show hosts and by writers of mass-market paperbacks as a womenʹs addiction, a disease to which women particularly are prone.

    There was, of course, a time in Ontario when no one, either female or male, shopped, when necessities were found or chased or made or traded....

  10. Doing Two Jobs: The Wage-Earning Mother, 1945–70
    (pp. 98-134)

    In the late 1950s, before I began school, my mother would put me in our car and drive from our suburban house into the city of Toronto. I attended a day nursery while she worked part time in a physics laboratory. On the first day of work one fall, my mother remembers hoping that the neighbours would think she was going shopping, since working women with young children were often judged to be less than ideal mothers. I remember resenting my placement at the nursery; sometimes I concocted inventive plans to prevent our departure – behaviour for which, as a...

  11. Remaking Their Lives: Women Immigrants, Survivors, and Refugees
    (pp. 135-167)

    On a bitterly cold day in the fall of 1952, Katie Werner, a young German woman who had married a Polish soldier billeted in her home during the final Allied assault on Hitler, arrived at the train station at Port Arthur in northwestern Ontario. Forewarned about the regionʹs climate and keen to make a good impression, Werner dressed in a combination of her finest and warmest - a lined trenchcoat, a wolf-fur collar, and high-heeled shoes. As she stepped off the train into a ferocious wind, she knew the outfit was a mistake. ʹI thought I had come to the...

  12. First-Class Workers Don′t Want Second-Class Wages: The Lanark Strike in Dunnville
    (pp. 168-199)

    On 31 August 1964 the union representing the women workers at the Lanark Manufacturing Company Ltd had been making little headway in its first contract negotiations. Lanark was a wire-harness plant in Dunnville in the Niagara Peninsula which produced automobile wiring for companies such as Ford and Chrysler.¹ When operating at full capacity, it employed about 500 people, 80 per cent of them women, including many French-Canadian teenagers.² The bargaining committee of Local 543 of the United Electrical Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) had been meeting with Lanark management since May 1964.³ One month earlier, in April, the...

  13. From Domesticity to the Public Sphere: Farm Women, 1945–86
    (pp. 200-231)

    The period 1945 to 1985 witnessed a profound transformation of rural Ontario, a reflection, in many ways, of the larger socioeconomic developments in the province. Most of the changes in farming as an industry have been amply researched and documented. In the past, however, they were studied from an economic or production perspective. Seldom have the human consequences of socioeconomic changes on farm families and particularly on women been examined, nor has much attention been paid to womenʹs contributions to the survival of farming as we know it in North America. Yet these changes have meant severe transformations in gender...

  14. First Nations Women: Reclaiming Our Responsibilities
    (pp. 232-251)

    In the past twenty years, First Nations in Ontario – the Cree, Anishinabek, Mohawk, and Algonquin – singly or grouped in confederacies of ancient origin, have been asserting a new identity. This identity is new at least to the popular imagination, which has been conditioned by media images to see the stereotypical Indians as a single category of people on the margins of Canadian society. The affirmation that ʹwe are a Nation,ʹ voiced resoundingly by the Dene of the Northwest Territories in 1970, has been echoed across the land, at first ministersʹ conferences and at barricades constructed of overturned vehicles,...

  15. Feminists, Libbers, Lefties, and Radicals: The Emergence of the Women′s Liberation Movement
    (pp. 252-280)

    Between 1968 and early 1971 a few dozen political action groups of women calling themselves ʹwomenʹs libbersʹ sprang up across Ontario.¹ After a brief hiatus in organizing during 1971, a new surge of activity began around 1972. Many other women came together in consciousness-raising groups in those early years to ʹspill our guts,ʹ as one participant remarked, ʹlook at the world, realize how weʹd been taken in by men and say to hell with it.ʹ²

    What set these groups apart from earlier organizations, and marked the beginning of a new kind of womenʹs organizing, were the decisions to organize autonomously...

  16. Making a Difference: The Theory and Practice of Francophone Women′s Groups, 1969–82
    (pp. 281-316)

    The Canadian womenʹs movement includes organizations, ideologies, and groups of people that have, until recently, been ignored. Research on womenʹs groups across Canada has begun to question this indifference within the predominantly white and Anglo womanʹs movement. However, women from minority groups - Black, Jewish, Mennonite, Ukrainian, Indian, Chinese, as well as women from Quebec and many more - have all, at one point or another in their development, addressed issues of how they related to the womenʹs movement and its white, Anglo-Saxon, middle-class, and Protestant roots. In fact, feminists from the non-dominant groups have taken on the task of...

  17. Picture Credits
    (pp. 317-318)
  18. Index
    (pp. 319-335)