Second Wave Feminism And Labour In Canada

3461 words - 14 pages

Canadian workplaces today seem to be a fairly diverse place, with a blend of many religions, ethnicities, and genders present. However, although people preach affirmative action and melting pots in current times, many inequality and power issues still abound. One strikingly noticeable example is gender discrimination. Women in the workforce face many challenges like smaller wages, harassment, male privilege in hiring or promotions, and lack of support when pregnant or raising children. One half of the planet is women, and it can be assumed the same for Canada, but they still face judgment at work because they lack the authority to dispute against big corporations or even their male supervisor. It cannot be argued that Canadian women’s status has worsened over the past hundred years, of course, thanks to feminism and activism. However, their status is not as high as it could be. Women as a group first started fighting for workplace equality during the second wave of feminism, from the 1960s to the 1990s. Legislation was approved during the second wave to try to bring gender equality to the workplace. Feminists both collided and collaborated with unions and employers to ensure women received fair treatment in an occupation. Quebec had the same issues, only the province approached the conflict differently than English Canada with its own unique viewpoint. It became clear that women were entering the workplace and did not plan on leaving. Second-wave feminism in Canada shifted power from the government and businesses to women in order to try to bring equality, although the discrimination never completely disappeared.
The origins and types of second-wave feminism provide a background for women’s experiences at the time. Second-wave feminism began in the 1960s and continued until the early 1990s, with a focus on sexuality, reproductive, and racial rights (Rampton, 2008, para. 6). However, women and labour was also a major issue due to the influx of women in the workforce. Many second-wave feminists realized that gender was “socially and historically constituted”, proving there was little reason that a woman should not work because she was supposed to be feminine (Sangster, 2000, p. 143). Within the second wave, three kinds of feminism emerged: “radical feminists, liberal feminists, and socialist feminists” (Franzway, 2000, p. 33). Radical feminists believed that the “patriarchy”, or the social oppression of women by power of men, caused inequality in society and, more specifically, in the workforce (Lewis, n.d. b). Liberal feminists wanted gender equality in the “public sphere”, which included education, representation in the work force, and equal wages (Lewis, n.d. a). Socialist feminists argued against capitalism and for workers’ rights (Franzway, 2000, p. 33). Of the three, socialist feminists in Canada had the most conflict with authority, due to the capitalistic power structure of the government, unions, and businesses. Canada...

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