Women and Well-Being

Women and Well-Being

Copyright Date: 1990
Pages: 260
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Women and Well-Being
    Book Description:

    Monique Bégin begins the first section, which deals with women's physical and mental health, with a critical evaluation of the Canadian health-care system. In the section on women's well-being in the workplace, Caroline Andrew, Cécile Coderre, and Ann Denis examine the situation of a group of women managers, and Nancy Guberman explores the role of women in caring for dependent adults in the home and community. The third section investigates the issue of well-being for minority women: Kabahenda Nyakabwa and Carol D.H. Harvey analyse the case of Black immigrant women and Mary O'Brien reviews the stereotypes of older, unmarried women. In the final section, the authors -- among them Marguerite Andersen, Maureen Leyland, and Maureen Jessop Orton -- concern themselves with ensuring the well-being of women by increasing their power in society through knowledge.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6231-8
    Subjects: Health Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xv-xxii)

    The common theme in this collection is concern about women’s well-being. In the chapters that follow, this concern is expressed by identifying conditions that are congenial or detrimental to women’s well-being and by exploring ways and means of promoting it. The authors come from a variety of backgrounds and state the issues from their own vantage points choosing topics that interest them and adopting different theoretical and disciplinary frameworks.

    The twenty chapters in this collection are divided into four parts on the basis of the particular aspects of women’s well-being they address. The five chapters in Part I deal with...


    • Redesigning Health Care for Women
      (pp. 3-13)

      Recently, someone reminded me that the Report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada did not address the issue of women and health. Indeed, when I recall the hundreds of briefs, the numerous public hearings, and the final report and recommendations tabled in December 1970, which I co-signed with the commissioners, I cannot remember that anyone dealt with this issue.² Yet almost seventeen years later, this entire criaw conference is devoted to the theme of “Women and Well-being.” As well, I myself am teaching courses on women and health in two universities. In October 1987, I...

    • Illness as Metaphor in the Nineteenth-Century Novel
      (pp. 14-24)

      On first looking into cultural representations of health and illness, we observe a constellation of attitudes; states of health are assigned moral value, patients are judged for and by their illness, and, finally, disease is used to define character. Sickness can also act as a source of desire, particularly when a frail, weak woman suffers from a “decorous” disease like consumption with its unnatural heightening of the bloom of youthful complexion. While sickness may make a woman more desirable, it can simultaneously define her as inferior, hence reducing the object of desire to manageable proportions. Conversely, health can be objectionable,...

    • Women’s Liberation and Women’s Mental Health: Towards a Political Economy of Eating Disorders
      (pp. 25-39)

      Part of the current trend of being fashionably thin, anorexia refers to the practice of dieting to the point of self-starvation. In Canada, this disorder afflicts primarily young women, particularly those from professional families.¹ In 1986, researchers reported that the twin eating disorders of anorexia nervosa and bulimia have increased in frequency sixfold or more since 1983 (TorontoGlobe and Mail, 26 October 1986).² At the same time, little progress has been made in the treatment of this disease. Therapists report that, overall, less than half (40 per cent) of anorexics are cured in a global sense, while approximately 30...

    • Towards an Understanding of the Social Logic Underlying Women’s Sporting Practices
      (pp. 40-52)

      In the past, the study of social phenomena has tended to be empirically based, primarily focused on isolating causal factors. My research takes a different approach. I have attempted to take into account the causal power of structures operating independently of the consciousness of agents in order to have a deeper understanding of social reality. I tried to think the social world in a relational way rather than in a linear way in keeping with the theoretical framework developed by the French sociologist, Pierre Bourdieu.

      Bourdieu has developed a theoretical frame of reference which allows us to include symbolic capital...

    • The Women beyond the Gates: Female Mental Health Patients in British Columbia, 1910–1935
      (pp. 53-64)

      We know little about women who were patients in Canada’s mental health institutions in the early twentieth century. While a body of literature is developing about the nineteenth century mental health field in Canada, and although feminist scholars have analyzed the gender dynamics of our contemporary mental health care system, only a few scholars have considered gender in the historical material (Mitchinson 1987, McLaren 1986, Shortt 1986). Nonetheless, as our knowledge of structures and patterns becomes more complete, the asylum gates are beginning to swing open.

      In an effort to understand the experience of female mental health patients in early...


    • The Family, Women, and Caregiving: Who Cares for the Caregivers?
      (pp. 67-78)

      Over the last fifteen years, there has been a renewed interest in the family. No longer is the family seen as a pathological, problem-generating system (as in many of the theories on the cause of mental illness, juvenile delinquency, and so on) but rather as an ideal location for caring and therapeutic activities. In contrast to the cold pecuniary relations of the market, the family is seen as the setting for warmth and unconditional love. It is the “haven in a heartless world.”

      Feminists have questioned the myth of the idealized family and have shown that the emotions and well-being...

    • An Exploration of the Work Women Do to Produce and Reproduce Family Leisure
      (pp. 79-89)

      A critique of the androcentric bias in leisure theory and research has highlighted the prevalence of sexist language in the leisure literature and the androcentric nature of the concept of leisure (Bella 1986; Bella 1990). Two particular problems with leisure research, familist assumptions and reliance on time-budget studies have been identified. Time-budget studies tend to focus on activities and ignore the relational context which gives meaning to those activities. These studies neglect the multilayered nature of women’s lives, in which several activities are engaged in simultaneously. Also, familist assumptions underlie studies of “family leisure,” which tend to ignore the reality...

    • Le mieux-être et le travail: contradiction ou compatibilité?
      (pp. 90-100)

      Dernièrement, une série d’articles parus dans les journaux – surtout de sources américaines – indiquaient que les femmes elles-mêmes critiquaient un certain type de carrière. Ces articles font référence à des études qui démontrent qu’un nombre important de femmes qui réussissent dans leurs carrières commencent à se poser des questions et, plus encore, commencent à quitter ces carrières « réussies » pour s’occuper de leurs enfants ou de leur famille. La plupart de ces études semblent insister sur le fait que ces femmes considèrent qu’il est impossible de combiner carrière et responsabilités familiales d’une façon satisfaisante et, dans l’impossibilité de...

    • Femmes collaboratrices et plénitude
      (pp. 101-108)

      C’est en travaillant à leur mieux-être et à celui de leur famille dans l’entreprise familiale, en essayant de réaliser l’équilibre épanouissant de femme, épouse et femme d’affaires, que les femmes collaboratrices sont en marche vers leur plénitude.

      Cet exposé développera ce thème en essayant de répondre à trois questions:

      Qui sont ces femmes collaboratrices?

      Comment, dans leur vie quotidienne, s’acheminent-elles vers leur mieux-être?

      Quels sont les moyens qu’elles se donnent pour éliminer les obstacles à leur plénitude?

      Mais qui sont donc ces femmes collaboratrices? Que font-elles? Où sont-elles? Précisons au départ que beaucoup de petites entreprises n’existeraient pas sans l’apport...

    • Maintaining Separate Spheres: Women’s Efforts to Enter Non-traditional Jobs – A Pilot Study of Women Working in Corrections in Saskatchewan
      (pp. 109-122)

      Women’s role within patriarchal culture has been defined as a nurturing or expressive one, and many predominantly female jobs appear to be extensions of their roles in the family. There has been differentiation between men’s and women’s tasks in jobs dealing with people in such fields as medicine, where nursing is largely (in North America) a female job and doctoring a male job. A number of other “people-oriented” jobs are viewed as men’s jobs; women have not been permitted entry because of concern about their physical strength and the dangers these jobs pose. In particular, policing and correctional work have...


    • Immigrant Women and the Problem of Difference
      (pp. 125-137)

      I would like to address being different – being an immigrant woman – in a way that does not treat immigrant women as “objects of study” or as an abstract category. I would like to write from what Dorothy Smith (1987) described as the standpoint of women:

      The standpoint of women … can’t be equated with perspective or worldview. It does not universalize a particular experience. It is rather a method which, at the outset of inquiry, creates a space for an absent subject and absent experiences which is to be filled with the presence and spoken experience of actual...

    • Adaptation to Canada: The Case of Black Immigrant Women
      (pp. 138-149)

      When people migrate to a new country, resettlement involves a process of adaptation. Not only does the newcomer have to take action which can objectively be recognized as adapting to the new culture, such as getting a job and finding housing, but the person also thinks of the new surroundings and reacts to them subjectively. In this paper we will consider the issues and problems that arise for a special case of newcomers, black African women. We will demonstrate how their experiences are similar to, as well as different from, those of other newcomers to Canada. We will also suggest...

    • Women with Disabilities: A Research Survey Report
      (pp. 150-158)

      The Consulting Committee on the Status of Women with Disabilities (ccswd) was established in 1984 to forge links between the movement for disabled consumers and the women’s movement and to better address the needs and concerns of women with disabilities. It was agreed that, to gain a better understanding of the double jeopardy faced by women with disabilities, research must first be conducted. Thus the Department of the Secretary of State was approached for research funding to document the social and economic needs and strengths of women with disabilities.

      The research proposal was divided into two phases. The first, undertaken...

    • Never-Married Older Women: Beyond the Stereotypes
      (pp. 159-168)

      Until recently, never-married people have been included with the widowed, separated, and divorced in research studies. Only in the past few years have they become the focus of research as an independent group, and as that focus emerges, gender and age have not been accounted for. As interest grows in older never-marrieds, particularly never-marriedwomen, we are finding more information on gender difference (Braito and Anderson 1984).

      Currently, however, there is very little data on the life experiences of never-married older women, and many questions have yet to be addressed. Are they subject to some of the common stereotypes of...

    • Threats to Rural Women’s Well-Being: A Group Response
      (pp. 169-180)

      The oppression of women in Canada today is a well-documented reality (Fitzgerald, Guberman, and Wolfe 1982; Turner and Emery 1983). We are defined as inferior to men, and this presumed inferiority is then used as an explanation and rationalization for the denial of equal access to society’s opportunities. Women’s oppression is reinforced by the sense of helplessness created by this situation. This may translate into behaviour which suggests lack of confidence, ability, or capacity to affect changes in ourselves or in the systems that victimize us (Norman and Mancuso 1980). This lack of personal power is reflected in the large...


    • La plénitude, du mythe à la divagation
      (pp. 183-194)

      On a longtemps dit que les femmes étaient passives. Simplement c’est qu’elles recherchent quelque chose que les hommes, eux, ne recherchent pas. En rassemblant des témoignages divers de femmes dont les pensées ou les oeuvres ont marqué, un concept émerge qui circonscrit bien cette vision particulière qu’ont les femmes des êtres et des choses. Ce concept, c’est celui de la plénitude. Ce que nous proposons ici constitue un essai de définition de ce qu’est la plénitude, de l’importance et de la portée qu’a, à nos yeux, ce concept. Nous présentons la plénitude comme un attribut essentiellement féminin, décrivant une série...

    • Well-Being for Rural Women: Empowerment through Nonformal Learning
      (pp. 195-200)

      During the 1970s, a number of people in the allied fields of developmental psychology, educational gerontology, and thanatology reported that adults experience a sense of well-being when they learn and when their environment supports and encourages learning. That sense of well-being is attributable to an increase in, or maintenance of, self-esteem that can be associated with learning, if the environment is free from fear of failure or ridicule and when there is a positive attitude towards the capacity and ability to learn.

      In Canada, as in other industrialized countries, every person must attend school for a period of ten to...

    • Educating for Empowerment: Women’s Studies as a Distance Education Course
      (pp. 201-213)

      As we are often reminded by our colleagues, Women’s Studies is an anomaly within the academic institution in terms of its theory and its practice. The academic legitimacy of Women’s Studies is challenged both on the grounds that its definition of knowledge is unorthodox, including as it does the subjective experience of women and a commitment to social change, and on the grounds that the methods of teaching and learning adopted by feminist teachers are unprofessional or involve too much focus on applied work. The feminist assertion that “knowledge is power” disturbs academics who feel that only “unbiased” enquiry is...

    • Challenging the Barriers to Social Change
      (pp. 214-227)

      An ancient Greek exclaimed “All is change.” We can never put our foot twice into the same river. Today, Ferron sings: “Ain’t life a brook … just when I’m feeling like a polished stone … something changes.” For women, the important question is: how can we influence the process to achieve the changes we want to see, beginning with equality for women and greater social equity between families to raise all above poverty?

      This project² of research and development aims both to study and to intervene to reduce the incidence of adolescent pregnancy in Ontario. The project is distinctive in...

    • L’amour et le bien-être
      (pp. 228-232)

      Je suis censée vous parler du mieux-être des femmes et je suis censée en parler en tant que titulaire d’une des cinq chaires d’études sur les femmes au Canada. Permettez-moi quelques remarques préliminaires: Au lieu de cette expression maladroite « sur les femmes », je préférerais employer l’adjectif « féministes »; les études que nous faisons sont en effet des études féministes, ayant pour but l’avancement ou, si vous voulez, le mieux-être des femmes. Alors pourquoi ne pas employer le mot juste au lieu de se cacher dans des digressions diplomatiques? Il est temps que nous disions en toute franchise...

  10. Contributors
    (pp. 233-237)