Demanding Equality
414 pages, 6 x 9
61 b&w photos, graphics, and cartoons
Release Date:15 Jun 2021

Demanding Equality

One Hundred Years of Canadian Feminism

UBC Press

One hundred years of feminist activism, from the 1880s to the 1980s, presented multiple paths for women’s search for equality, autonomy, and dignity. Women fashioned different dreams of freedom and social transformation, yet what is Canadian feminism?

Demanding Equality illustrates feminist thought and organizing from mid-nineteenth-century, Enlightenment-inspired writing to the multi-issue movement of the 1980s, with its focus on feminism as a collective project of resistance. Instead of equating feminism solely with women’s search for individual independence and equality with men, Joan Sangster argues that the pursuit of different pathways to equality often created a hybrid politics in which emancipation was intertwined with, and propelled by, struggles against related injustices such as racism, war, colonialism, economic disparity, or homophobia. She also challenges the popular “wave” theory that identifies successive surges of equality seeking, concluding that feminist activism was continuous despite changing significantly across decades.

Demanding Equality presents a picture of a heterogeneous movement characterized by both alliances and fierce internal debates. This comprehensive rear-view look at feminism in all its political guises encourages a wider public conversation about what Canadian feminism has been, is, and should be.

This comprehensive survey will appeal broadly to readers interested in feminism and Canadian history, as well as students and scholars of history, gender and women’s studies, and Canadian studies.

Joan Sangster is Vanier Professor Emeritus at Trent University and a past president of the Canadian Historical Association/Société historique du Canada. She is the author of One Hundred Years of Struggle: The History of Women and the Vote in Canada; Transforming Labour: Women and Work in Postwar Canada; and The Iconic North: Cultural Constructions of Aboriginal Life in Postwar Canada.

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