The Satellite Sex: The Media and Women's Issues in English Canada, 1966-1971

The Satellite Sex: The Media and Women's Issues in English Canada, 1966-1971

The Satellite Sex: The Media and Women's Issues in English Canada, 1966-1971

The Satellite Sex: The Media and Women's Issues in English Canada, 1966-1971


Have the Canadian media given feminism a bad name or have they been among the movement's strongest supporters?

Is journalistic objectivity a myth when it comes to women's voices, or doesn't it matter?

In this provocative new book — the first one to examine print and broadcast news coverage of women's issues in English Canada — Barbara Freeman explores what the media were saying about women and their concerns during an important period in our history — and why.

The Satellite Sex is both a social history and a media case study of the years 1966-1971, when the feminist movement began once more to gather support. Women wanted equal treatment under the law, and they wanted rights they had not gained when they won the vote many years earlier. In response, the Canadian government appointed a federal inquiry on the status of women, and hundreds of women came forward to talk to the Commission about the injustices they experienced at school, at work, in public life, in their homes, and even in their bedrooms.

The Satellite Sex demonstrates that the print and broadcast media coverage of women's issues at that time were much more complex and fragmented than revealed by research in the United States on the same era. This book, released thirty years after the Canadian Commission presented its report, also raises questions about the lack of strong feminist voices in today's news media.


This study is the first book-length discussion about the ways in which the print and broadcast news media have covered women’s issues in Canada. It is a feminist cultural studies analysis of an important period in the history of Canadian women, 1966–1971. During this time issues of concern to women across the country were aired before a federal inquiry, the Royal Commission on the Status of Women, which issued its recommendations 30 years ago. Using the media coverage of the concerns women raised at the time, The Satellite Sex demonstrates the strengths and weakness of journalism practice, and questions in particular the notion of professional objectivity. It finds that in the Canadian case, the ways in which the media covered women’s issues were much more complex than previous, mostly American, studies of the same era have revealed.

Specifically, this book addresses the relationship between the Commission and the media, the reporters’ understandings of professional practice, and the ways in which they covered the issues as they came up at the hearings and were discussed in the Commission’s Report. the issues included cultural understandings of both femininity and feminism; the meaning of equality for women in education, the workforce and public life; new definitions of marital status, “working mothers” and reproductive freedom; and the specific goals and needs of aboriginal women. It also raises questions about the marginalization and loss of strong feminist voices in today’s news media.

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