Over the last hundred years there have been many changes in the position of women in society.  But there have been changes in the place of men (and children) as well.  In general they seem to have kept pace with one another.

If, for example, it took women in Britain till 1928 to win the right to vote on the same basis as men (1902 in Australia, 1927 in Canada), it took most of the nineteenth century to win universal suffrage for men.  The secret ballot was not introduced in England until 1872, rural male workers did not get the vote until 1885, and elected members of Parliament did not get paid until after the turn of the century.  Many social changes for men and women over the last 100 years have similar records, the ones for women following those for men after a short period of time, even though women had to overcome opposition or prejudices because of their sex.

With the introduction of “women’s liberation” in the nineteen sixties, however, a whole new chapter was begun, one which differed not merely in degree but also in kind from what had gone before.  This time it was not a question of women following in the footsteps of men in acquiring this or that right.  Rather, it concerned, what some began to believe, would be a revolutionary change in the role and function of woman herself, precisely in that area which had hitherto made her depend on men, namely her biological uniqueness as childbearer and as mother.

The pill

The key to this revolutionary era was the Pill, newly invented in 1960.  This, such people thought, would “liberate” women from the “enslavement” to diapers, the kitchen sink and crying babies.  Sexual relations would no longer be restricted by the risk of “unwanted” pregnancies.  Women would be free like men, free to have their fun, yet free to pursue careers, earn money, have the good things in life and be “respected” in their own right as “full human beings.”  The “stigma” of housewife, a task described time and time again as marked by dullness and stultifying drudgery, would be removed once and for all.

This, as we have seen (Interim, October 1985), was the frame of mind of the postwar generation of leading feminists.  According to this view women were to be like men.  If their decision not to have children was to be real, the choice (that is, the right) to have an abortion was to be essential as, indeed, was the right to choose as one’s live-in partner someone of the same sex.  Thus, when French television did a series of programmes in feminism last year, the 76-year-old leading European feminist Simone de Beauvoir explained, as an example of changes brought about, that she had deliberately chosen not to have children in order to devote herself to writing.  Asked what else had changed and which of these changes had been most important, she singled out the legalization of contraceptives and abortion as perhaps the greatest advance to date (Globe, Jan. 26, 1985)

If we are to understand what the modern crisis in family and sexual morality is all about, and if there is to be any hope of bringing about a spiritual advance and reconciliation, it is necessary to bring to light these sometimes-hidden sources of conflict and corruption.  For Canadians to say that these ideas are only ephemeral, or for Christians to think that secular feminism has not touched their communities, is ludicrous.  Evidence to the contrary may be found everywhere.

Communications and feminism

In Canada the inroads of the “women’s liberation” philosophy are at least as prominent as elsewhere.  This is fully reflected in the media, in education and in the policies of women’s political action groups which, until the recent appearance of some new organizations such as REAL Women, exclusively represented the secularist view.  French Canada borrowed the ideology from France; English Canada principally from the United States.  As English Canada resembles more closely the dominant cultural patterns of the United States than French Canada that of France, one can almost say that English Canadian secular feminism is simply a copy of the American model.  The same ideas, the same authors, the same emphases appear here as there.  This is most noticeable in the media and in academia.

The entertainment media are the institutions most secularized in Canada, just as much as Hollywood from where most of the programming is imported.  Thus feminism has established itself most prominently in the field of communications.  In the process, committed feminists have set up a whole network through which radical groups and individuals support one another somewhat in the same way as the old boys’ network of former days.

In the print medium, the first to join the Canadian women’s liberation philosophy wad the women’s magazine Chatelaine, under the long time editorship (till the mid-seventies) of Doris Anderson.  In August 1959, It was the first popular magazine to call for legalized abortion.  It followed up on this theme in March and May of 1963, in August 1967 (when it editorialized that if the government “bowed” to the request of the Roman Catholic Church to delay legislation on abortion… “one segment of society will have imposed its views on the whole society again”); and with such articles as “A Catholic mother answers the Pope” (Nov. 1968, on contraceptives) and “Why women are still angry over abortion” (October 1970)

Once the permissive society was in full bloom, Chatelaine discussed every aspect of sexual immorality with that perfect aplomb of the fully secular mind, to whom even a mere mention of chastity or fidelity or traditional morality seems weird and unbelievably naïve.  Sprinkled throughout this steady diet were presentations of leading feminists as in articles such as “Simone de Beauvoir on women,” (February, 1973), and frequent articles and editorials on behalf of the Morgentaler and the abortion-contraception causes.

The secular feminist view on sexual relations, marriage, and family – an essentially libertine philosophy – was and is restricted to women only.  On the contrary, there are plenty of male allies I the media who have joined the “women’s liberation” movement.  The Globe and Mail, for example, possibly Canada’s most influential newspaper, has such a secularist cast of mind that for over two decades it has been the chief Canadian champion of substituting the new morality for the old.  More than any other Canadian newspaper it has fought for the legalizing of contraceptives, abortion and suicide, for easy divorce, for the rejection of controls over pornography, whether in film or literature (denouncing opponents as “book banners,” “censors,” “inquisitors”); for the “right” of homosexuals to meet in bathhouses (even though it is illegal) or for such causes as the “right” of scientists to carry on “in vitro” research and experimentation on human embryos.

“Life-style” values

While the Globe demands complete liberty for its own secular value system, that is, freedom from “interference” by representatives of traditional values – be they Church of State – its editors and supporters are quite prepared to forcibly impose their own views on others.  Editorials have demanded compulsory sterilization of the mentally disabled, obligatory abortion referrals by doctors and mandatory sex education according to the ideas of the Planned Parenthood organization.  This last was introduced by the Toronto Public Board of Education recently.  (The same attitude explains the Globe’s hostility to the funding of all religious-oriented or other value-oriented schools.  Fiscal support guarantees protection of their value system which is precisely what the secular establishment detests most.)

Since the mid-seventies a noticeable development in the press has been the “Life Style” sections, with growing numbers of women columnists in other parts of the paper as well.  While undoubtedly a useful development in its own right, unfortunately the adherents of “women’s liberation” dominate the scene.

In Toronto, the country’s largest newspaper, the Toronto Star has as “Life-Style” columnists, Doris Anderson, Lois Sweet and Lynda Hurst, all secular feminists.  Anderson has been mentioned already.  Sweet is relatively “moderate,” though she doesn’t hesitate to attack pro-life on the abortion issue or to defend homosexual activity.

Lynda Hurst has just retired as a columnist.  This is a welcome relief.  She devoted all her columns to the promotion of the feminist cause.  Over a six month period, from July to December 31, 1984, for example, she wrote 38 columns.  No fewer than 19, or 50 percent were devoted, in full or in part, to expounding the liberated woman’s definitive choice, abortion.  In these columns she either attacked pro-life, defended Morgentaler (of whom she does not really approve, but supports for “the cause”), or ridiculed all the “reactionaries” who had not yet adopted her point of view.  The second set of 19 articles covered other aspects of the feminist movement more or less in the same vein, while occasionally – as on pornography and censorship – taking issue with other feminists.  Add similar minded colleagues Tom Harpur (Sunday religious columnist), Rosemary Speirs (provincial politics), Jackie Smith (special reports) or Bill Walker (reporting on the abortion issue) and the picture is one of almost unmitigated hostility towards pro-life.

Toronto Globe and Mail columnists are equally committed to absolute “choice,” covering the whole spectrum from abortion onwards.  June Callwood, Judith Finlayson, Michelle Landsberg (wife of Stephen Lewis and formerly with the Star), special reporters Judy Steed or Joan Hollobon, columnist Orland French, all hammer away at it, some regularly, others from time to time.

Other large dailies may have fewer columnists but the scene appears the same everywhere.  The Edmonton Journal, for example, had three, June Sheppard, Olive Elliot and Lois Sweet (before she moved to Toronto).  Together with the two male editors, both agnostics, thump traditional morality whenever they can and beat the drum for more permissiveness, usually disguised as a struggle for human rights.

Abortion kills

The same is true for likeminded colleagues on radio and television and magazines such as Editor Jane Gale of Homemakers magazine.  Many of these public figures are connected to organizations of radical feminists such as CARAL (Canadian Abortion Rights Action League), various lesbian groups, NAC (National Action Committee on the Status of Women), Advisory Councils of Women, Women’s Studio D of the National Film Board, YWCA, Human Rights Commissions, Women and the Law, and others.

Among honorary directors of CARAL, for example, are Henry Morgantaler, Doris Anderson, June Callwood, Margaret Laurence (“Borowski claims that a fertilized egg is a person”), Pierre Berton, Grace Hartman (former president of CUPE and of NAC), Iona Campagnola (President of the Liberal Party), Laura Sabia (Toronto Sun columnist noted for her unrestrained verbal violence against pro-life people), Norman Perry (CBC TV), and the late Marian Engel.  Engel, unlike Hurst, Landsberg, Laurence or Morgentaler, was willing to admit that abortion kills human life.  She also thought that every woman should have that right (“Opting for the right to end life,” MacLean’s, April 8, 1982).

The YWCA has bestowed at least five of its annual “Women of Distinction” awards (begun only in 1080) upon honorary or former directors of CARAL, including Norma Scarborough, CARAL’s current president.  CARAL member Sabia was the founder for NAC which, like its American counterpart NOW, has made “reproductive choice” a keystone of its programme.  NAC’s full name, National Action Committee on the Status of Women was adopted deliberately in order to undercut the older government body, the federal Advisory Council on the Status of Women, when radical feminists decided in 1974 that it was too conservative.  The Liberal government then appointed Doris Anderson to the advisory Council (who eventually resigned in a rage to join NAC) and Lucie Pépin, a former president of the Family Planning Federation of Canada, who resigned in 1984 to enter politics.  The Conservatives then appointed Sylvia Gold, the current president.

As the president of NAC (which claims three million supporters through its affiliated groups), Doris Anderson fought strenuously to keep protection of the unborn out of the (1981) Charter.  Lucie Pépin is today Liberal M.P. for Montreal-Outremont, Marc Lalonde’s old riding.  In Parliament, despite party differences, feminists such as Pépin, Sheila Finestone, Claude Mailly (live-in companion of Charles Lynch, the nationally syndicated columnist) for the Liberals; Pauline Jewett, Margaret Mitchell, Lynn McDonald (former president of NAC) and Svend Robinson for the NDP; Mary Collins, Flora MacDonald (“I morally and financially support Dr. Henry Morgentaler”), and Pat Carney for the PCs, all support CARAL and defend the same secularist agenda as that of the Globe and Mail.

“Crucial” to NAC’s philosophy

They are joined outside the federal parliament by other politically-minded people such as former Prime Minister Joe Clark’s wife, Maureen McTeer (“We have to give women the right to make their own choice and provide them with abortion clinics”), Iona Campagnola, Lorna Marsden (University of Toronto sociologist, former NAC president appointed to the Senate by Trudeau), the phalanx of NDP feminists (Alexa McDonough, Marion Bryden, Marion Dewar, Rosemary Brown, Eileen Daily, Bob Rae) and, especially, the executives of government-subsidized feminist organizations.  Together they have managed to place the entire women’s programme against discrimination and for equality of opportunity exclusively in terms of the women’s liberation philosophy.

Many leading feminists, in politics, in action committees, in the press, live out their principles in their personal lives.  For example, the current president of NAC, Chaviva Hosek (“reproductive choice is crucial to NACs philosophy”), a professor of literature at Victoria College, has been living with a man for four years and does not pretend to wish it any other way, according to Judith Knelman (Graduate [U. of T.] Nov.-Dec., 1984).

Feminist philosophy invasion

In the communications world there seem to be as many divorces as marriages.  Almost everyone – or so it seems – appears to be living with somebody else’s wife or husband.  CBC news anchorman Knowlton Nash, for example, was married for the fourth time in an Anglican church a year or two ago.  Naturally, with such backgrounds the communicators are the first to insist that the private lives of public people have no bearing on public policy, much in the same line as that 400 year old myth – solemnly upheld by historians into the 20th century – that Henry VIII was really a good king despite being a bloodthirsty husband.

The list could be lengthened, but space does not permit it.  The feminist philosophy of equality – with the perhaps unsuspected but all too real consequences of anti-family, anti-child, anti-men and anti-women characteristics – flourishes in Canada as much as elsewhere.  This does not mean that bridge building is excluded.  Pornography, for example, is rejected by many feminists, even if for limited reasons such as violence against women.  As time foes by, more moderate views on issues may prevail.  But as for the present, secular feminism is aggressively invading all areas of life according to its mandate spelled out by Betty Friedan in 1973:

“The changes necessary to bring about equality… are very revolutionary indeed.  They involve a sex-role revolution for men and women which will restructure all our institutions: childbearing, education, marriage, the family, medicine, work, politics, the economy, religion, psychological theory, human sexuality, morality and the very evolution of the race.” New York Times Magazine, March 4, 1973.