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The Famous Five: Heroes for Today
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Anti-feminist Atmosphere

Heritage Community Foundation, Albertasource.ca and The Famous Five Foundation

Stephen Leacock's Take on Women

Nellie McClung Takes on Leacock

Reading: Women in Politics

Reading: "Where are Canadian Women Going—Back to Their Homes or Continue in Business Life?"


Take it all in all a man has a certain chance to get along in life.

A woman, on the other hand, has little or none. The world's work is open to her, but she cannot do it. She lacks the physical strength for laying bricks or digging coal. If put to work on a steel beam a hundred feet above the ground, she would fall off. For the pursuit of business her head is all wrong. Figures confuse her. She lacks sustained attention and in point of morals the average woman is, even for business, too crooked.

                                                    —Stephen Leacock

Justice balancingDespite the conditions of today, during the first half of the 20th century, women were considered second-class citizens by law, as well as by custom. Viewed as different from men in character, as well as by nature, many in the male-dominated society viewed women as inferior to men. Motherhood was viewed as the highest achievement of women, and it was assumed that every "normal" woman wanted to have a family. For a woman to desire a career outside of the home was considered strange, and many who chose this path were viewed with suspicion.

Some people limit their definition of feminism to radical feminism—women who rioted in the streets, destroyed property, and tangled with police, or as the act of choosing a career at the expense of marriage and motherhood. The Famous 5 embraced both ideals, working inside and outside of the home. All five women felt marriage and motherhood were vitally important in addition to the pursuit of a career. For that reason, modern feminists sometimes criticize them as being "maternal" feminists.

Regardless of some definitions of feminism, the Famous 5 believed that women should have equal rights with men, and not be treated as second-class citizens; they believed that a woman should have the same career opportunities as men, should receive equal pay for equal work; and that women should be able to choose to have careers as well as families.

While anti-feminists argued that women's rightful place was in the home, leaders of the women's movement countered with a claim of women's moral superiority.

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