CD and Feminism: Chronicle of a Movement Defining Itself

By Ross, Stephanie | Canadian Dimension, March-April 2013 | Go to article overview

CD and Feminism: Chronicle of a Movement Defining Itself


Ross, Stephanie, Canadian Dimension


OVER ITS 50 YEARS, Canadian Dimension featured some of Canada's most well-known and thought-provoking feminists, activists and scholars, the majority of whom straddled the line between academia and activism. This was fitting for a magazine that has made such a dedicated effort to mobilize knowledge in ways that activists can use in their struggles. Historian Joan Sangster credited CD with being one of a handful of magazines emerging in the 1960s that provided a space for socialist feminists in the face of a labour movement only very slowly beginning to embrace basic principles of gender equality, and a feminist movement often dominated by the concerns of middle-class women. CD's coverage of feminism was most vibrant when the movement itself was vital, engaged in concrete struggles and actively debating the best strategic ways forward.

CD's coverage and framing of feminist issues over the years provides a fascinating chronicle of the complexity of the wider feminist struggle in Canada as well as of the Canadian left's engagement with that struggle. CD's exploration of a series of debates within feminism--about work and class, race, racism and white privilege, reproductive rights, sexuality, sexual violence, and the issue of male allies--indicates a commitment to engage activists in thoughtful discussion, to challenge unspoken assumptions, and to work through sometimes uncomfortable disagreements.

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Clearly influenced primarily by socialist feminist analysis, CD focused especially on the political economy of women's oppression; the relationship between capitalism and patriarchy, socialism and feminism; and the struggles of women to transform workplaces, economic and social policy, and working-class and left organizations (whether unions or parties) in feminist directions. CD also covered the struggle for reproductive rights in a sustained way, asserting that women's right to control their own bodies was "a basic demand of the women's movement" (Gordon and Gavigan, March 1975) and "every bit as important a part of the socialism we want to build as, say, workers' right to control the workplace" (editorial, "Reproductive Choice," November 1983). …

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