Shelter in a Storm
224 pages, 6 x 9
11 tables
Release Date:15 Jan 2017
Release Date:15 May 2016
Release Date:15 May 2016
Release Date:13 Jul 2016

Shelter in a Storm

Revitalizing Feminism in Neoliberal Ontario

UBC Press

Casey Ready, an academic and the executive director of a non-profit organization, combines the personal and the political to tackle some of the most pressing issues of our time: What is neoliberalism? How does it harm women? And what can be done about it?

Her book begins by looking at how three YWCA women’s shelters in Ontario were affected by Premier Mike Harris’s “Common Sense Revolution,” which emphasized personal responsibility over collective responsibility, cut social assistance by almost 22 percent, and reduced funding to organizations that helped vulnerable people. The staff and clients of the three YWCA shelters expected their situation to improve, materially and politically, when Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government came to power. Instead, they found themselves responding to new challenges: a government that appeared more supportive but, in practice, built on its predecessor’s neoliberal policies, including trying to control the shelters’ organizational structures and services and to neutralize the language used to describe violence against women. In the process, Ready reveals, “they did little to address the poverty and marginalization of women and did much to control and weaken non-profit organizations working to empower women.”

Drawing on interviews with forty-one shelter staff, clients, volunteers, and activists, Shelter in a Storm exposes the dangers for women that are embedded in neoliberal policies and reveals the value of revitalizing feminism to counteract this powerful ideology.

This volume will interest activists, students, and scholars involved in gender and women’s studies, the violence-against-women movement, poverty, social justice, neoliberalism, the non-profit sector, and public policy. It will also be invaluable to social workers and others working with women and children in the non-profit sector.

Casey Ready lays bare the multiplicity of ways in which state policies shape, confine, and co-opt feminist agendas and undermine the interests of women. She shows why we should be every bit as ready to respond to austerity measures introduced by Liberal governments as by Conservative ones. Janet Mosher, co-editor of Disorderly People: Law and the Politics of Exclusion in Ontario
Ready’s book is feisty, compelling, and inspiring. A treasure chest for activists and scholars, it offers a thoughtful, clearly articulated analysis of feminism, violence against women, and the neoliberal state which softens and reframes such violence, even as it creates new gendered risks and harms through cutbacks. Kate Bezanson, author of Gender, the State, and Social Reproduction: Household Insecurity in Neo-liberal Times
Casey Ready is the executive director of a non-profit community agency, an assistant professor (status only) and sessional lecturer at the University of Toronto, and a research associate at Trent University.


1 Neoliberalism: The Project That Has No Name

2 An Uneasy Alliance: Feminism and Neoliberalism

3 Feminist Agendas: YWCAs

4 Harris: The Face of Neoliberalism

5 McGuinty: Neoliberalism Lingers On

6 From Frayed Rope to Tight Strings: NGO Relationship with the State

7 Red Heels: A Desperate Need to Fundraise

8 Still Speaking Out

9 Feminist Resistance in Neoliberal Times


Works Cited


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