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Women in transition : a study of Vancouver Transition House as agent of change Ridington, Jillian 1977

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WOMEN IN TRANSITION: A STUDY OF VANCOUVER TRANSITION HOUSE AS AGENT OF CHANGE JILLIAN BOTHAM RIDINGTON A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS We accept t h i s t h e s i s as conforming to the r e q u i r e d standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA October, 1977 (T) J i l l i a n Botham Ridington, 1977 i n SOCIOLOGY In p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s in p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t o f the r e q u i r e m e n t s f o r an advanced degree at the U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Co lumb ia , I a g ree that the L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e and s tudy . I f u r t h e r agree t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e c o p y i n g o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may be g r a n t e d by the Head o f my Department o r by h i s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . It i s u n d e r s t o o d that c o p y i n g o r p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n s h a l l not be a l l o w e d w i t h o u t my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n . Department o f Soc i o l o g y  The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Co lumbia 2075 Wesbrook Place Vancouver, Canada V6T 1W5 Date O c t o b e r 5, 1977 ABSTRACT This thesis examines the origins and function of Vancouver Transition House as an agent of role change and of social change. It is based on observations made during a three-year period as a member of the Transition House staff collective, on formal and informal interviews with the founders, staff, and residents of the house, and on Stephenson's, Garden's, and Freeman's studies of the new feminist movement. The work commences with a discussion of the growth of the women's move-ment in Vancouver to a stage where the need for social action was understood to be necessary. The effort of the society formed to found the house i s then delineated. It is noted that involvement with that group created changes in self-concept and inter-personal relationships similar to those described by Stephenson as occurring in the founders of the original Vancouver women's groups (Stephenson, 1975). The operation of the house and the role of the staff are detailed. There follows an analysis of the transition process undergone by residents, focussing on the importance of a milieu controlled and inhabited exclusively by women in f a c i l i t a t i n g this process. It i s noted that changes in self-concept and in interpersonal relationships, again similar to those experienced by women in-volved in feminist groups, do occur, but that these may not be sustained after the period of residency without changes in the social context. Recommendations for change in the legal and social systems necessary to sustain individual chang accorded to by a group of transition house workers from refuges throughout North America, are examined. The author concludes that such recommendations demand extended social change, and notes the necessity of recognition of the value of work done by women, and of equality of responsibility in the domestic and public spheres. Until these conditions prevail, women's powereto control institutions and bring about fundamental social change w i l l be limited. i i i TABLE OF CONTENTS PREFACE i INTRODUCTION 1 CHAPTER I: WOMEN'S LIBERATION IN CANADA AND VANCOUVER 3 A. THE CANADIAN BEGINNINGS 3 B. THE WOMEN'S MOVEMENT IN VANCOUVER 4 i) The Women's Caucus 4 i i ) The U.B.C. Group 7 i i i ) Community Involvement of the Women's Caucus 11 iv) Involvement of the U.B.C. Group 13 C. VOICE OF WOMEN 16 D. THE STATUS OF WOMEN 2 0 SUMMARY 23 CHAPTER II: THE BEGINNINGS OF TRANSITION HOUSE 2 4 A. WOMEN'S PLACE 25 B. WIFE BATTERING AS A FEMINIST ISSUE 2 9 C. THE BEGINNINGS OF TRANSITION HOUSE 3 2 ' CHAPTER III: TRANSITION HOUSE IN OPERATION 3 8 A. THE HOUSE 3 9 B. THE STAFF 4 2 C. THE WORK OF A "TRANSITION HOUSE WORKER" 4 9 D. • .STAFF ORGANIZATION AND RELATIONSHIPS 5 3 CHAPTER IV: RESIDENTS AND THE TRANSITION PROCESS 5 6 CHAPTER V: SOME CASE HISTORIES 7 9 i v C H A P T E R V I : T H E F U T U R E : T R A N S I T I O N H O U S E A N D T H E SOCIAL CONTEXT 87 C H A P T E R V I I : I M P L I C A T I O N S A N D C O N C L U S I O N S / 1 1 8 C O N C L U S I O N S 1 2 8 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Without the following women, this thesis could not have existed, and I gratefully acknowledge my indebtedness to them a l l ; my mother, Ida Marjorie Botham, who died as i t began, but inspired in me a desire to understand the world around me; Val MacDermot, who gave me both infor-mation and inspiration; Bev Crabtree, who patiently undid and redid a l l my mistakes and made a jumble of papers into a thesis; and a l l the women of Transition House - staff, founders, and residents, who have made transition house a home for a l l of us who have needed i t . E a c h i n d i v i d u a l woman g a i n i n g s e l f - r e s p e c t , y e s , power, o v e r h e r own body and s o u l f i r s t , t h e n w i t h i n h e r f a m i l y , on h e r b l o c k , i n h e r s t a t e , and so on o u t f r o m t h e c e n t r e , ' o v e r l a p p i n g w i t h s i m i l a r changes o t h e r women a r e e x p e r i e n c i n g . The c i r c l e s r i p p l i n g more w i d e l y as t h e y go. T h i s i s a r e v o l u t i o n i n c o n s c i o u s n e s s , r i s i n g e x p e c t a t i o n s , and t h e a c t i o n s w h i c h r e f l e c t t h a t o r g a n i c p r o c e s s . R o b i n Morgan, " R i g h t s o f Passage Ms. 1975, V o l . I V , #5: 77 PREFACE As Maren Lockwood Carden n o t e d , a f t e r f i n i s h i n g h e r r e s e a r c h on t h e f e m i n i s t movement, A c t i v e s o c i a l movements i n g e n e r a l c a n n o t be s t u d i e d by c o n v e n t i o n a l s o c i a l - s c i e n t i f i c methods. The women's movement i n p a r t i c u l a r i s t o o f l u i d and i t s members t o o h o s t i l e t o t h e i m p e r s o n a l approaches o f h i g h l y q u a n t i t a t i v e s o c i o l o g y , w h i c h t h e y f e e l l o s e s s i g h t o f t h e t o t a l p i c t u r e . ( C a rden, 1974, 8) D o r o t h y S m i t h , i n "Women's P e r s p e c t i v e : A R a d i c a l C r i t i q u e o f S o c i o l o g y " , has made t h e same p o i n t , w h i l e d i s c u s s i n g a b r o a d e r c o n t e x t o f s o c i o -l o g i c a l i n q u i r y , The t h e o r i e s , c o n c e p t s and methods o f o u r d i s c i p l i n e c l a i m t o a c c o u n t f o r , o r t o be c a p a b l e o f a c c o u n t i n g f o r and a n a l y s i n g t h e same w o r l d as t h a t w h i c h we e x p e r i e n c e d i r e c t l y . . . t h e s o c i o l o g i s t as an a c t u a l p e r s o n i n an a c t u a l c o n c r e t e s e t t i n g has been c a n c e l l e d i n t h e p r o c e d u r e s w h i c h o b j e c t i f y and s e p a r a t e him f r o m h i s knowledge. Thus t h e l i n k a g e w h i c h p o i n t s back t o i t s c o n d i t i o n i s l a c k i n g . ( S m i t h , 1975a,10) To a v o i d t h e problems o f r e m o v i n g m y s e l f f r o m t h e e x p e r i e n c e and t h e u n d e r s t a n d i n g s o f t h o s e who undergo t h e p r o c e s s I have s t u d i e d , my method has been t h a t o f a v e r y a c t i v e p a r t i c i p a n t o b s e r v e r . The p r o b l e m I am a t t e m p t i n g t o u n d e r s t a n d and a n a l y z e i s n o t one f r o m w h i c h I am removed e i t h e r p h y s i c a l l y o r e m o t i o n a l l y . Nor i s i t o f o n l y t h e o r e t i c a l i n t e r e s t t o me. I t i s b a s e d on t h r e e y e a r s ' work a t Vancouver T r a n s i t i o n House, work done n o t as a s o c i o l o g i s t b u t as a member o f a f e m i n i s t c o l l e c t i v e w h i c h s t a f f s t h e house. I began t o work a t T r a n s i t i o n House o n l y weeks a f t e r t h e d i s s o l u t i o n o f a r e l a t i o n s h i p w h i c h has been p h y s i c a l l y and p s y c h o l o g i c a l l y o p p r e s s i v e t o me. D e s p i t e a good edu-c a t i o n , and a p r o v e n a b i l i t y t o h o l d r e s p o n s i b l e p o s i t i o n s , I had r e m a i n e d i n a d e s t r u c t i v e r e l a t i o n s h i p f o r a l m o s t two decades. Once free of i t , I attempted to understand my i n a b i l i t y to e x t r i c a t e myself from the r e l a t i o n s h i p f o r such a long period, and the f a c t o r s which had f i n a l l y made that possible. Coming to that understanding, concurrently with helping other women to e x t r i c a t e themselves from damaging r e l a t i o n -ships, has l e d me to an awareness of the degree to which the c o n t r o l of women's l i v e s i s denied to them. As Smith notes, (1975b, 9) " s o c i o l o g i s t s tend to use an agentic approach", which assumes that "a human being has the power to i n i t i a t e change" and i n which "the power to act and coordinate i n a planned and r a t i o n a l manner and to exercise control over conditions and means are taken f o r granted". But i t i s necessary to the functioning of corporate c a p i t a l i s m that women be subjected to men, t h e i r needs subordinated to the needs of men, and that f a c t makes women l e s s able to exercise c o n t r o l over t h e i r acts. In an e a r l i e r paper, Smith noted that women are depend-ent not on men, but on men's source of employment (Smith, 1973, 18). Though t h i s varies somewhat with c l a s s , since women married to middle class men are assigned to that place, the home, which i s external to the managerial structure and external therefore to that place where the decisions which have consequences f o r the conditions of t h e i r existences are made. (Ibid, 13) and women married to working cl a s s men are dependent on men whose employ-ment, i n turn, i s dependent on governments and management. "The success of her labours i s always co n d i t i o n a l upon external contingencies which originate i n the world of "them" and over which she has no control other that that which she exercises over her husband." ( i b i d , 19) Few women, even those who are well-educated, unmarried, and "middle-class" i n t h e i r own r i g h t are involved i n government and management, and therefore able to d i r e c t l y influence the making of the decisions which e f f e c t "the con-d i t i o n s of t h e i r existences". In our society, as Smith notes i n "Ideological Structures and How Women are Excluded", the exclusion of women from a c t i v e l y making and creat i n g the forms i n which s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s are thought and spoken of has not i n general had to he v i o l e n t l y suppressed. The ordinary s o c i a l l y organized process of s o c i a l i z a t i o n , edu-cation, work and communication perform more routine, gener-a l i z e d and e f f e c t i v e p r a c t i s e . (Smith, 1976, 9) Through such p r a c t i s e , women have not only been excluded from " i d e o l o g i c a l structures" but have come to accept such exclusion as norma-t i v e . Sociology, as part of the educational and communication network which functions as part of that p r a c t i s e , has r e f l e c t e d the system which i t has undertaken to analyse. I t has been authored mainly by middle-class males. I t has become an instrument f o r understanding organizations as they are assumed to be by those who govern them, and not as they.are experienced by those who work i n them: The relevances and perspectives of the discourse are b u i l t upon these foundations which i n l o c a t i n g sociology i n the r u l i n g apparatus of corporate capitalism also provides f o r the s i l e n c e s of those who become i t s objects. And women are the majority of the s i l e n t . (Ibid, 9) Because women have been s u b s i d i a r i e s i n a world thought out and gov-erned by men, i t has been necessary f o r them to create other worlds f o r themselves. As Stephenson noted,(1975, 69) i t i s the job of the women's movement, embodied i n i t s p a r t i c i p a n t s , to make an i d e o l o g i c a l and s o c i a l "home base" f o r i t s constituency. The i n s t i t u t i o n i n which I work i s one such base. I t i s a milie u h i g h l y a t y p i c a l f o r our soci e t y . I t i s a place where women make decisions, support each other, and i n t e r a c t without male d i r e c t i o n or p a r t i c i p a t i o n . Since the normal categories and t o o l s of s o c i o l o g i c a l analysis are designed to describe a male-dominated world i n terms designated by those who have ordered that world, they are inappropriate i n t h i s context. X A large portion of my the s i s discusses changes i n f e e l i n g s and self-concept, and i n interpersonal r e l a t i o n s h i p s . I t deals with emotions, an area u s u a l l y considered " i r r a t i o n a l " and inappropriate f o r s o c i o l o g i c a l a n a l y s i s . Such assumptions are not v a l i d when dealing with the experience of women going through l i f e c r i s e s . My inquiry begins, as Smith notes that "a sociology f o r women" must do ( 1 9 7 5 a , 18), with a knowledge of such women's everyday world, and of t h e i r experience. To deny the importance of the fe e l i n g s of the women who have shared t h e i r experiences with me would be to deny t h e i r experience, and my own. For a l l women — and p a r t i c u l a r l y f o r those women who must come to terms with the f a c t that they have been abused by men who are supposed to "love" them.— "The conditions of our action and experience are organized by r e l a t i o n s and processes outside them and beyond our power to c o n t r o l . " ( i b i d , 1 6 ) In order to gain the understanding of those conditions and begin to f i n d ways of assuming "power to c o n t r o l " our l i v e s , we must understand the linkages between our experience and the r e l a t i o n s and processes which now cont r o l i t . The path to understanding our experiences seems to l i e i n sharing i t with other women, and f i n d i n g the commonalities. This i s the premise which underlay the forming of women's "consciousness r a i s i n g groups". I t was a prerequisite to p o l i t i c a l under-standing f o r feminists, and remains one of the most important functions of Tr a n s i t i o n House. The approach I am using then i s that of a subject, one who has under-gone the process I am researching, and that of a worker i n the f i e l d , working with other women t r y i n g to understand and enact necessary changes i n t h e i r l i v e s . I t i s , l a s t l y , that of a student of sociology who i s "observing" and "analysing" a phenomenon, seeing behaviour i n a s o c i a l context and t r y i n g to understand the i n t e r r e l a t i o n s h i p of behaviour and context. I t i s never that of an i s o l a t e d observer, removed from a s o c i o l o g i c a l "problem" which i s only of i n t e r e s t i n an academic sense. x i Because of t h i s method, and because I hope to make t h i s study available to the s t a f f and the residents of T r a n s i t i o n House, the language i s l e s s academic and s o c i o l o g i c a l than that found i n most theses. As I have gained i n understanding of myself and of the s i t u a t i o n of a l l women through my work there, so I hope to be able to add to the knowledge of other women through my work. To couch the experience of many women i n terms understandable only to the small minority of people who have had the opportunity to attend graduate school, and who have the time and o f f i c i a l status necessary to peruse t h i s thesis i n the department o f f i c e or i n the s p e c i a l c o l l e c t i o n s department of the U.B.C. L i b r a r y would be to do a d i s s e r v i c e to the many women who have enriched my l i f e f o r the past three years. 1 INTRODUCTION Feminism can be considered the most r a d i c a l of s o c i a l movements. I t demands changes i n the nuclear family, the fundamental i n s t i t u t i o n of western society (see Engels, Smith, 1973 and others). As William O ' N e i l l has noted, the need f o r such changes was recognized by the most astute of ea r l y fem-i n i s t s : The most sop h i s t i c a t e d feminists appreciated that they were not merely asking f o r t h e i r r i g h t s as c i t i z e n s , that what they wanted c a l l e d f o r new i n s t i t u t i o n s as we l l as new ways of thinking. They seem to have been f e e l i n g t h e i r way toward a new domestic order. (O'Neill, I 9 6 8 , 279) Yet, despite more than a century of feminist activism — a l b e i t with a long period of dormancy and counterrevolution — new i n s t i t u t i o n s have not been established and changes i n the "domestic order" have not become entrenched. As Meissner's recent studies show, women i n even the most " l i b e r a t e d " of marriages s t i l l have an unequal share of domestic r e s p o n s i b i l i t y . (Meissner, 1976) Because the nuclear family, with i t s concommitant l i m i t a t i o n s of women by unpaid, "use-valued" maintenance labour, i s so e s s e n t i a l to our socio-economic system, demands that males, or communities at large, take more r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r c h i l d care and household chores threaten the s o c i a l order. The p o l i t i c a l and economic function of the p o s i t i o n of women w i l l be discussed, more f u l l y , i n Chapter 8 ; because these understandings have evolved out of the involvement of women i n the feminist movement and were not f u l l y understood i n i t s beginnings, i t seems appropriate to deal with them as they evolved — as a product, and not a cause, of feminist activism. P r i o r to t h e ' r e b i r t h of feminism", Margaret Mead stated: We know of no culture that has said, a r t i c u l a t e l y , that there i s no differe n c e between men and women except i n the way they contribute to the creation of the next generation; that other-wise i n a l l respects they are simply human beings with varying g i f t s , no one of which can be ex c l u s i v e l y assigned to ei t h e r 2 sex.... However d i f f e r e n t l y the t r a i t s have been assigned, some to one sex, some to the other, and some to both,... although the d i v i s i o n has been a r b i t r a r y , i t has always been there i n every society of which we have knowledge. (Mead, 1949, 39) Further, no matter what tasks were assigned to women or to men, the work that men do has always been valued more highly. What feminism i s demanding i s what Mead has s a i d has never existed; a culture i n which there i s no differe n c e between men and women except i n the way they con-t r i b u t e to the next generation. The ways i n which t h i s can be achieved are s t i l l not t o t a l l y under-stood; there i s no consensus, even among feminists, as to the means by which that end can be attained. Some have seen a "women based culture" as nec-essary, and have sought to create a l t e r n a t i v e i n s t i t u t i o n s run by and f o r women, and operated i n a c o l l e c t i v e manner which i s the a n t i t h e s i s of the usual h i e r a r c h i c a l structure of c a p i t a l i s t i c i n s t i t u t i o n s . One such exper-iment i s Vancouver T r a n s i t i o n House, a refuge f o r women heeding to escape untenable nuclear family s i t u a t i o n s . This t h e s i s w i l l examine i t s evolution, and the state of the house, as a women-oriented i n s t i t u t i o n , i n a soc i e t y which i s s t i l l operated by and f o r men. 3 CHAPTER I: WOMEN'S LIBERATION IN CANADA AND VANCOUVER A. The Canadian' Beginnings The f i r s t Women's Li b e r a t i o n group i n Canada was formed i n I967, when women who had been members of the Students Union f o r Peace Action (then Canada's leading "New L e f t " organization) announced t h e i r plans to separate at a SUPA membership conference. (Ed. note to Bernstein et a l , 1972, 31) Their statements regarding t h e i r reasons f o r leaving the group were published under the t i t l e " S i s t e r s , Brothers, Lovers....Listen". Their points were strongly and c l e a r l y made: Be l i e v i n g as Marx d i d that s o c i a l progress can be measured by the s o c i a l p o s i t i o n of the female sex, we w i l l attempt to describe the human condition i n Few L e f t terms as i t e x i s t s today... SUPA, i n respect to women, t o t a l l y accepted the mores of the dominant society...One r o l e f o r women i n that of catering to the organization's men...They are the t y p i s t s , fund r a i s e r s , and community organizers... I t i s our contention that u n t i l the male chauvinists of the movement understand the concept of l i b e r a t i o n i n r e l a t i o n to women, they w i l l be v o i c i n g p o l i t i c a l l i e s . . . Some movement women are ready f o r r e v o l u t i o n . We have r e j e c t e d many of the t r a d i t i o n a l leaders as i r r e l e v a n t . We are thinking f o r ourselves. We are doing the necessary reading, w r i t i n g , and conversing to f i n d the analysis and theory f o r the task. We have the experience to do t h i s . We have the f r u s t r a t i o n of being excluded to force us to do t h i s We are r e a l i z i n g that we have brains, that we can be p o l i t i c a l . I t i s the l i b e r a t i n g f e e l i n g that black people have when they discover that being black i s b e a u t i f u l and therefore they are b e a u t i f u l . I t i s a f e e l i n g of beauty and power. We are getting these kinds of f e e l i n g s . (Bernstein et a l , 1972, 31-39) In these excerpts, the subjective discontent, which researchers study-ing s o c i a l movements are agreed i s a prerequisite f o r t h e i r i n s t i g a t i o n , (see Stephenson, 1975, 9) i s very much i n evidence. Also present are the preconditions which Jo Freeman found present — and necessary — i n her study of the Women's Li b e r a t i o n movement: a) a p r e - e x i s t i n g network which i s b) "co-optable" i n terms of the like-mindedness of the people involved; and c) a p r e c i p i t a n t . (Freeman, 1973, 32-33 and Stephenson, 1975, 17) 4 "The movement" — i . e . the groups of campus-based r a d i c a l s of the l a t e 1960s which a c t i v e l y sought to change the conditions of oppressed groups, and to bring an end to the war i n Vietnam — had brought together l i k e -minded women on campuses across Canada as well as the U.S. I t had created a network of p o l i t i c a l l y experienced and r a d i c a l women who had joined the movement because they wanted to change s i t u a t i o n s they saw as oppressive and unjust, and had found themselves oppressed and treated unjustly within i t . Acting as "typers of l e t t e r s and d i s t r i b u t o r s of l e a f l e t s " (Bernstein et a l , Op c i t 39)> being denied opportunities to act as spokespersons f o r the movement, having t h e i r opinions i n v a l i d a t e d — then f i n d i n g that other movement women shared t h i s " f r u s t r a t i o n of being excluded", and that t h e i r powerlessness was not caused by i n d i v i d u a l d e f i c i e n c i e s but was due to move-ment male leaders' treatment of women as a group — caused them to s p l i t o f f and form groups where women could act on t h e i r p o l i t i c a l b e l i e f s i n an egal-i t a r i a n way. The treatment of women i n the "New L e f t " created shared awareness of discontent, and acted as a p r e c i p i t a n t f o r the forming of separate women's groups along the movement-created network. (Freeman, o p . c i t . 37-39; Carden, 1974, Ch. 3) The Toronto group was one of the f i r s t f i v e which were formed independently i n I967 and I968, by women "who had become exasperated by the New L e f t males' r e f u s a l to t r e a t s e r i o u s l y t h e i r com-p l a i n t s about being treated as i n f e r i o r s . " (Carden, 1974, 32 & 187n) B. THE WOMEN'S MOVEMENT IN VANCOUVER i ) The Women's Caucus S i m i l a r conditions existed within the New L e f t i n Vancouver, and the f i r s t group was organized here i n June, I968 as an outgrowth of student activism at Simon Fraser U n i v e r s i t y . The Board Room was occupied by students during the CAUT censure c r i s i s . They decided to use the space to f i l l a student need. Some students and f a c u l t y who agreed with the s i t - i n brought t h e i r c h i l d r e n there f o r a number of days. When the s i t - i n ended the nursery also ended, but the idea of an on-campus nursery was born. ( K i l l i a n , 1972, 9*0 The s i t - i n also gave b i r t h to the "Feminist Action League" which i n -cluded many of the day-care women — "single women with ki d s " (Stephenson, 1975, 73)- According to one of Stephenson's informants, "That's e s s e n t i a l l y where the thing started...they r e a l l y d i d almost immediately have...this consciousness about t h e i r s p e c i a l problems as women...child care generally was not merely ( s i c ) an issue at a l l . . . i n the general L e f t Movement at that time." ( i b i d ) The p r e - e x i s t i n g , co-optable network i n the Vancouver case was Students f o r a Democratic U n i v e r s i t y (SDU), then quite i n f l u e n t i a l at Simon Fraser, ( K i l l i a n , op c i t ) and the p r e c i p i t a n t , the coming together of like-minded 1 women during the CAUT s i t - i n . But "The f r u s t r a t i o n of being excluded" was present here, too. Stephenson d e t a i l s many of the Women's Caucus founders' experiences of oppression within the movement, (Stephenson, 1975, 117-119) and the d e r i s i o n which the Feminist Action League met with ( i b i d , 73) was also evidence of the powerlessness of women within the SDU. As a r e s u l t of t h i s maltreatment, the group changed i t s name to "Women's Caucus" because "people immediately associate that with p o l i t i c s . " ( i b i d , 77) 1. CAUT - Canadian Association of Univ e r s i t y Teachers, which censured the SFU Board of Governors f o r "maladministration" and "interference i n academic a f f a i r s " , as part of a long-standing dispute over h i r i n g , f i r i n g , and tenure at that u n i v e r s i t y , (Women Unite, 190n) 2. I t i s i n t e r e s t i n g to note that though s i n g l e parents were involved here, most of the Women's Caucus women studied by Stephenson were not mothers -obviously because of the time demanded f o r such a high degree of involvement. 6 As t h e i r new name s i g n i f i e s , the group developed a very t r a d i t i o n a l p o l i t i c a l o r i e n t a t i o n ( i b i d , 7 7 - 7 8 ) . Perhaps t h i s was, as Stephenson suggests, because the women's movement was new, and they were feminism's e a r l i e s t proponents i n Vancouver ( i b i d , 7 7 ) . Another f a c t o r might have been that they had learned t h e i r s k i l l s , become aware of t h e i r oppression i n and through t h e i r p o l i t i c a l activism. They understood oppression i n terms of power r e l a t i o n s h i p s , and simply transferred t h i s understanding to the new cause. They read "everything that was av a i l a b l e " ( i b i d , 7 4 ) . Most of t h i s was s o c i a l i s t - f e m i n i s t ; . Bernstein, et a l , quoted above; J u l i e t M i t c h e l l ' s "Women: the Longest Revolution"; Marlene Dixon's "Why Women's Li b e r a t i o n " ; Bonnie Kreps "Radical Feminism"; a l l were written by women with former New L e f t associations. From the beginning, the members of Women's Caucus were a c t i v e l y p o l i t i c a l i n t h e i r i n t e r p r e t a t i o n and a p p l i c a t i o n of feminist ideology. For them, " p o l i t i c s was s o c i a l action exercised upon the apparent structures of society...and personal...concerns were not to be dwelt on" (Stephenson, 7 8 ) . The group demonstrated i t s a c t i v i s t p o l i t i c a l focus by s t a r t i n g a s o c i a l i s t - f e m i n i s t newspaper (The Pedestal), opening an o f f i c e i n the Labour Temple ( i b i d , 77-80) and, somewhat l a t e r , i n s t i g a t i n g the 1970 cross-Canada abortion caravan, the f i r s t major nationa l action of the Women's Lib e r a t i o n Movement (Women Unite, 1972, l l ) . A good statement of the Caucus' philosophy i s contained i n "Pie i n the Sky". a review of the Report of the  Royal Commission on the Status of Women published i n The Pedestal i n January, 1971: As women we are oppressed by the kind of society we l i v e i n — an economic system based on the e x p l o i t a t i o n of many by a few powerful owners and a s o c i a l system dependent on r a c i a l , nation-a l and sexual chauvinism... The l i b e r a t i o n of women w i l l take more than a few l e g i s l a t i v e reforms. Our oppression i s basic to the smooth functioning of our society as presently organized. Only an organized and determined women's movement can understand what i s necessary and desirable and make i t pos s i b l e . . . (Women Unite, 1972, 41-42) i i ) The U.B.C. Group By the time the above review was published, a second Vancouver Women's L i b e r a t i o n group, based at UBC, had come into being. I t had "emerged f u l l blown" i n 1970, probably because the Women's Caucus already ex i s t e d as a model (Stephenson, op.cit.,85). I t s founders were also u n i v e r s i t y a f f i l i a t e d and middle c l a s s . The women from both groups were 'like-minded' i n Freeman's sense i n t h a t " t h e i r background, experience or l o c a t i o n i n the s o c i a l structure makes them receptive to the ideas of a s p e c i f i c new movement" (Freeman, op.cit,,32). Further, they were a l l i n a l i f e s i t u a t i o n a t y p i c a l f o r women, but l i k e each other... They were used to dealing with ideas, to a r t i c u l a t i n g and c r i t i c i z i n g s o c i a l patterns. A l l of these are e s s e n t i a l t o o l s f o r adopting and f u r t h e r developing an ideology and group and f i n d i n g media vehicles f o r i t . (Ibid, 67) As well-educated middle cl a s s women, a l l the founders were members of the group most l i k e l y to f e e l the c o n f l i c t between s o c i e t a l d e f i n i t i o n s of success and the demands of the female r o l e . They are the women Hacker c a l l e d "marginal","torn between r e j e c t i o n and acceptance of t r a d i t i o n a l r o l e s and a t t r i b u t e s " (Hacker, 1951, 1^5)• DeBeauvoir t y p i f i e d them as "the independent woman...between the desire to assert h e r s e l f and the desire f o r self-effacement...she i s torn and divided" (DeBeauvoir, 196l ed 653-4)- Though Carden discussed the appeal of feminism to such women i n American terms, our culture i s s u f f i c i e n t l y l i k e the American one f o r her statements to be applicable: . . . a l l American women grow up learning, on the one hand, such s o c i e t a l values as achievement and individualism, and, on the other hand, the frequently contradictory demands of the t r a d i t i o n a l female r o l e . Middle- and upper middle-class college graduates are most l i k e l y to f e e l the ensuing c o n f l i c t s most acutely; t h e i r expectations are highest and t h e i r r e l a t i v e d eprivation the greatest. I t i s from these women that, so f a r , the new feminist movement has drawn the majority of i t s members. (Carden, op.cit.,30) But the U.B.C. founders were much less p o l i t i c a l l y aware than the Caucus women. They had become aware of the movement through reading, during the time when a great deal of feminist literature, written from a broad range of perspectives, was becoming available (ibid, 7 0 ) . They had begun their involvement by applying their reading to their own situations, and discussing both their reading and their experience among themselves (Stephenson, op. c i t . , 7 0 ) . But they had not experienced together, and at f i r s t hand, the frustration of being derided by males. Their oppression was more subtle, so insidious that they were unaware of i t and saw them-selves~as"altruists" who had escaped oppression themselves*, but wanted to help alleviate i t for other women (ibid, 109-119)• The relationship between the U.B.C. founders was based on intellectual commonalities, not on shared p o l i t i c a l activity. It seems doubtful that they would have initiated a women's liberation group had there not been one already existing in the area to give them impetus and advice. But the Women's Caucus did exist, and the four U.B.C. founders went to i t and received advice on setting up their own group (ibid, 8 6 ) . Like the Women's Caucus members, each of the U.B.C. founders had become attracted to feminism through coming to view "some aspect of her l i f e as a woman as problematic" (ibid, l l ) . But, in contrast-to the Women's Caucus founders, who were " a l t r u i s t i c " and " p o l i t i c a l " (Stephenson, 6 8 ) , Stephenson has described the U.B.C. originators as " a l t r u i s t i c " and "non-political" -a l t r u i s t i c in that they saw the 'problematic thing' as being the situation of woman in general, but believed they were fortunate to have escaped oppression (ibid, 1 1 0 ) . They were "non-political" in that, compared to the Caucus women at least, they had a rather "minimal sense of what action might be taken to alter the role of women" (ibid). Because their biographies were different, their interpretations of the women's movement ideology were different. Thus the U.B.C. group had a 9 very d i f f e r e n t character than the Women's Caucus. As Stephenson notes, group characters are not acc i d e n t a l . Groups are founded by persons according to what the founders understand of the ideology, and of themselves and other women i n r e l a t i o n to the ideology and to each other. Furthermore, they are sustained according to how, and insofar as, they meet the p o l i t i c a l and personal needs of the women present. (Ibid, ? 1 ) Two of the U.B.C. founders were "women-identified women" — they had l i v e d together f o r 1 7 years, so were obviously used to having women as t h e i r most important other. The other two were f i n d i n g r e l a t i o n s h i p s with men prob-lematic, and one of these stated "one of the things that i n t e r e s t s me about Women's L i b e r a t i o n was t h i s ( s i c ) . . . n o t depending on men, not looking to them f o r your career, f o r your r a i s o n d'etre" ( i b i d , 1 7 9 ) • A l l were i n a p o s i t i o n to see the idea of "sisterhood" — women supporting women — as a p o s i t i v e and f e l i c i t o u s one, and make i t a f o c a l point of meetings. The U.B.C. group's approach to feminism was thus a very personal one; "there was an emphasis on sharing experience i n small groups", and "there was a conscious e f f o r t by a number of these women i n the group...to keep a l l these discussion times on the psychological level...they t r i e d to a r t i c u l a t e the issues of t h e i r l i v e s at home, at school, at work with what they had heard of women's l i b e r a t i o n ideology" ( i b i d , 88) . Such a c t i v i t y seems a l o g i c a l outgrowth of the pre 1group a c t i v i t y of the founders — reading and discussing the l i t e r a t u r e as i t applied to t h e i r own experience and the s i t u a t i o n of women i n general ( i b i d , 86) . I f ideology presents the means " f o r i n t e r p r e t i n g the past and the present", i t also l i n k s the present with the future by presenting s t r a t e g i e s f o r change. I t implies that things must be d i f f e r e n t i n the future, and places an onus on a person i n a s o c i a l movement to work toward change i n her s e l f , her relationships,and i n society as a whole. Stephenson c a l l s the f i r s t two of these l e v e l s the "in t e r n a l / p s y c h o l o g i c a l " , where a person t r i e s to achieve a u n i f i e d s e l f as a strong s e l f - r e s p e c t i n g woman, and the "personal/ 10 i n t e r a c t i v e " , where r e l a t i o n s h i p s with others meet i d e o l o g i c a l l y derived standards of equality...and she describes the t h i r d l e v e l as the one where "thought and energy are used to formulate actions as a Women's Li b e r a t i o n group, per se" (op c i t , 23) . For the purposes of t h i s discussion, t h i s l e v e l w i l l be c a l l e d the " s o c i a l action" l e v e l . I f i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s of ideology vary with the background of the founders of a group, as modified by l a t e r j o i n i n g members, i t follows that the s p e c i f i c means of implementing ideology — i . e . the methods of achieving change on these three l e v e l s — w i l l also vary. The Caucus women believed "comradeship comes from doing things together". Increased s e l f confidence and s e l f - r e s p e c t as well a's strengthened interpersonal r e l a t i o n s h i p s seem to have been derived from s u c c e s s f u l l y organizing workshops i n areas of s p e c i f i c i n t e r e s t . The changes they made were remarkably s i m i l a r to those the U.B.C. group achieved through intense sharing of personal experience i n a small group s e t t i n g . On the whole, these regular p a r t i c i p a n t s i n both the Women's Li b e r a t i o n groups i n Vancouver have re-structured t h e i r every-day r e a l i t y considerably. They have more elaborate s o c i a l net-works that serve many more functions, they have increased t h e i r s o c i a l and p o l i t i c a l s k i l l s . They have thereby both r a i s e d t h e i r valuation of themselves and increased t h e i r impact upon t h e i r environment. (Ibid, 288) Stephenson's comments here seem to pertain to changes made on the int e r n a l / p s y c h o l o g i c a l and personal i n t e r a c t i v e l e v e l s ; changes on the t h i r d l e v e l , while discussed by Stephenson ( p a r t i c u l a r l y i n the Women's Caucus case) are not evaluated to the same extent. Her focus was on "studying women's experience as i t r e l a t e s to a p a r t i c u l a r s o c i a l movement and the changes i n those women's l i v e s attendent on that involvement." ( i b i d , 3) The impact of the groups on the l a r g e r community was peripheral to her major concern. Secondly, the "outreach" groups which had developed were r e l a t i v e l y new, and t h e i r extent and impact impossible to judge when Stephenson concluded her research. I t i s on these questions that I w i l l therefore focus; what happened to the energy and interest generated in these groups after Stephenson concluded her study? How did the areas chosen for social action reflect the original character of the two groups? How successful have their efforts been — i.e. has social change actually been achieved? i i i ) Community Involvement of the Women's Caucus When Stephenson concluded her research in 1971 both the U.B.C. group and the Women's Caucus were ceasing to exist in the forms she had studied. Though Stephenson does not mention this, i t seems that the dis-solution was to some extent at least precipitated by a conference with Indochinese women held at U.B.C. in the spring of 1971. The conferences could not be held in the U.S. because U.S. immigration regulations forbid the entry of the Vietnamese women. Canadian feminists, including members of the Women's Caucus, and of VOW volunteered to organize them. But major decisions about the conferences were made by the American women, while the Canadians carried out the menial tasks and basic organization (Women Unite, l l ) This appears to have caused resentment. Kay MacPherson and Meg Spears of VOW described the reaction of VOW members: The different views, backgrounds, ages and l i f e styles of the hundreds of women who attended led to many confrontations and arguments. Canadian women, almost swamped by the avalanche of "American Imperialism of the l e f t " . . . f e l t a new awareness of the need to establish their own national identity, while s t i l l acknowledging their bond with women everywhere. (MacPherson and Spears, 1976, 86) An observer has described instances of haggling over the appointment of a chairperson, extraordinary expenditure of effort to keep out U.B.C. male students, and rhetoric concerning the fact that Vietnamese women could 1. There were two; another was held in Toronto. 2. Voice of Women; see page 16 following. 12 not be "women-centred women", i f they d i d not i n s i s t that men work i n day-care centres — a demand which t o t a l l y ignored the f a c t that Vietnamese men were f i g h t i n g a war at the time (Chud and Thompson, 1973, section 4, 3-4, 7-8). Such concentration on minor issues seems to have precluded a t t a i n i n g any r e a l b e n e f i t s , p a r t i c u l a r l y i n terms of i n t e r n a t i o n a l awareness of, and possible action towards improving, the uni v e r s a l oppression of women. Accord-ing to the editors of Women Unite, Disagreement within the Canadian movement was i n t e n s i f i e d by the anger sparked i n many women by the American chauvinism and i n t e r n a l factionalism...Both i n the east and the west, a basic dichotomy i n views emerged; should women become involved i n broader p o l i t i c a l a c t i v i t i e s or should women organize as women... Then followed the v i r t u a l d i s i n t e g r a t i o n of the Toronto and Vancouver groups. (Women Unite, op.cit.11-12) Perhaps the conference was only a p r e c i p i t a n t f o r a movement to a d i f f e r e n t developmental stage. In keeping with i t s philosophy that "Looking at i n d i v i d u a l problems l e d to only i n d i v i d u a l solutions, which could not bring about s o c i a l change" (Stephenson, op. c i t . 7 6 ) , the Women's Caucus had already begun to organize women, through i t s newspaper, and more p a r t i c u l a r l y , through i t s working women's workshops. By the summer of 1971i s h o r t l y a f t e r the conference, the women of The Pedestal and of the Working Women's workshop announced that they wanted to spend t h e i r time on the workshops only (Stephenson, 82). The working women's workshop became the Working Women's Association — the progenitor of SORWUC, a union f o r working women which would have T r a n s i t i o n House workers as i t s f i r s t major ceriif i c a t i o n i n 1974. The Pedestal became more e x p l i c i t l y a c o l l e c t i v e , and continued to publish u n t i l 1974; there are rumours that i t w i l l resume p u b l i c a t i o n , but t h i s has not yet come to pass. Whether or not the d i s s o l u t i o n of the Women's Caucus was a nat u r a l evolution into groups more s p e c i f i c a l l y working i n areas i t s members were most interes t e d i n , or the r e s u l t of a f e l t need to "organize as women" in part r e s u l t i n g from the conference, by the f a l l of 1971 the Working 13 Women's Association, the Pedestal, and the Women's Centre, a remnant of the old downtown office, were the remaining f o c i of the former Women's Caucus. iv) Involvement of the U.B.C. Group Unlike the women's caucus, which "rather quickly formulated several rather specific goals and strategies for change" (ibid, 286), the U.B.C. group i n i t i a l l y lacked structured goals. Its members were preponderantly women who "didn't know what they wanted to do, just what they wanted to feel — less confused, better about themselves, less alone." (ibid) The group had been founded by women whose "autobiographies did not include much p o l i t i c a l involvement" (ibid, 92) and who saw the development of trust and support between women as being an essential prerequisite to understanding the causes of individual problems as related to their social context, and such an understanding as an essential step towards resolution. For them, the personal was p o l i t i c a l — "the small group situation is seen as both an end in i t s e l f and as a means of strengthening women for future forays into changing the concrete conditions of their lives" (ibid, 46). They came to see the group as a community, "a place where friendships could be made and eventually people could use the confidence and strength they got there to do other p o l i t i c a l work." (ibid, 241) Implicit in the above statement is an understanding that "consciousness raising" groups, such as the U.B.C. one, do serve a limited function. When the consciousness is raised, the group's function i s f u l f i l l e d , and other ways of putting feminist ideology into practise must be found. Consciousness-raising groups may serve to f a c i l i t a t e changes on the 'psychological' and the 'personal interactive' levels, but they cannot serve well to formulate action. Carden has noted that when consciousness raising groups reach the stage where the group i t s e l f can contribute l i t t l e more, the objectives must be redefined, and a second stage of development entered upon. Some women cease active 14 p a r t i c i p a t i o n , though remaining committed to the ideas of feminism. "Others '•— 5 - 15% — seek out others l i k e themselves and become involved i n a wide range of s o c i a l action projects through which they t r y to change society, not simply t h e i r own l i v e s or the l i v e s of people immediately around them." (Garden, op.cit., 72-73) A woman who does remain ac t i v e , she notes, has "experienced a more thorough-going reconceptualization of her r o l e than the woman whose involvement ceases with the d i s i n t e g r a t i o n of her consciousness-raising group." I t i s perhaps s i g n i f i c a n t of the "success" of the U.B.C. group that a f a r greater percentage of i t s members than Carden found to be true f o r the Women's L i b e r a t i o n movement i n general went on to p a r t i c i p a t e i n s o c i a l a c t i o n p r o j e c t s . Stephenson states that, " E a s i l y three-quarters of the p a r t i c i p a n t s are s t i l l , three years l a t e r , active i n some form of a c t i v i t y r e l a t e d to f i g h t i n g women's oppression." (Stephenson, op. c i t , 249) Deciding j u s t what form such s o c i a l action must take i s a problem f o r many groups and i n d i v i d u a l s , and the range of options and opportunities a v a i l a b l e w i l l be an important f a c t o r i n determining whether or not women w i l l decide to continue t h e i r involvement into t h i s second phase. " S o c i a l a c t i v i s t s within women's l i b e r a t i o n , have from the beginning, grappled with the problem of t r a n s l a t i n g an ideology which a l l agreed should be general and f l e x i b l e into concrete goals and projects." (Carden, op. c i t , 73-74) In contrast to the Women's Caucus, whose s p i n - o f f groups were a l l involved i n s o c i a l action and community outreach, the U.B.C. group had developed some small groups which focussed around the c u l t u r a l and i n t e l l e c t u a l i n t e r e s t s of the p a r t i c i p a n t s — e.g. the music and l i t e r a t u r e groups and p a r t i c u l a r l y the women's studies programme which began the next academic year. Only the day-care and health groups could be seen as s o c i a l -action-oriented, and i t was these two that formed the basis f o r the s o c i a l action to come. Because the U.B.C. women had made such r a d i c a l and p o s i t i v e changes i n t h e i r l i v e s through sharing experience and gaining support from other women, i t 15 i s reasonable t h a t t h e i r choice of outreach should be i n the d i r e c t i o n of supporting other women i n an immediate and personal way. As Stephenson con-cluded , ...women w i t h t r a d i t i o n a l p o l i t i c a l experience (the Women's Caucus women) were the ones who had the e x p e r t i s e to s t a r t a group where nothing of the type had e x i s t e d i n town. They knew the p h y s i c a l acts i t takes to c a l l meetings, to set up an o f f i c e , to w r i t e i d e o l o g i c a l statements. They work out i n t h e i r r e a d i n g and t a l k i n g what these statements w i l l be, but they already know the process. Women who have incomes of t h e i r own, who have few f a m i l y d u t i e s and who can govern t h e i r own use o f time can spend the hours, days and months i t takes to set up a group — as was the case w i t h the beginning of the Women's Caucus. These same women, i n t h e i r very s e l f - s u f f i c i e n c y , i n t h e i r own experience of s u c c e s s f u l l y t a c k l i n g d i f f i c u l t career options may not be prepared to s i t and t a l k f o r months a t a time w i t h very n o n - s e l f - s u f f i c i e n t women about the q u i t e d i f f e r e n t kinds of s p e c i f i c problems t h i s d i f f e r e n t l y s i t u a t e d woman may be occupied w i t h . (Stephenson, op c i t , 284-5) This e x p l a i n s the development of the women's caucus i n t o the Working Women's a s s o c i a t i o n and the Pe d e s t a l (the Women's Centre i s a b i t of an anomaly here, but i t was i n f a c t l e s s r e l e v a n t to the major i n t e r e s t s of the Women's Caucus). Members of both groups g r a v i t a t e d to those outreach groups which d e a l t w i t h t h e i r primary i n t e r e s t s . For some of the U.B.C. group, involvement focused on the "Health Group". I t s goals i n c l u d e d h e l p i n g other women to acquire s e l f -awareness and self- a c c e p t a n c e , as w e l l as the more immediately p o l i t i c a l g oal of h e l p i n g women to r e g a i n c o n t r o l of t h e i r bodies from p h y s i c i a n s , who are predominantly male and t h e r e f o r e incapable of understanding the s u b j e c t i v e experience of l i v i n g w i t h i n a woman's body. The ideas of t h i s group were g r e a t l y Influenced by the p u b l i c a t i o n of the Boston Women's Hea l t h C o l l e c t i v e ' s Our Bodies, Ourselves i n 1971, a book which d i s c u s s e s , from a f e m i n i s t p o i n t of view, such s u b j e c t s as: the i n t e r n a l i z a t i o n of s e x i s t values and the e f f e c t of t h i s on the i n t e r a c t i o n between women's minds and bodies; the c u l t u r a l b a s i s of a t t i t u d e s to female s e x u a l i t y ; l e s b i a n i s m ; rape; and a t t i t u d e s to b i r t h c o n t r o l , pregnancy, a b o r t i o n , c h i l d b i r t h , and menopause as aspects of the oppression of women; and the sexism prevalent i n the p r a c t i s e of medicine. (Boston Women's Health C o l l e c t i v e , 1971) Another group of women who had been part of the U.B.C. meetings f e l t the need f o r a drop-in/information/crisis centre f o r women, s i m i l a r to the downtown women's centre but s p e c i f i c a l l y oriented to the needs of west-side housewives, and more relaxed and community-oriented than the downtown centre. T h i s group got together with the women int e r e s t e d i n health, and i n v i t e d other i n t e r e s t e d women — most of whom were members of the Voice of Women or the Status of Women — to j o i n them. This c o l l e c t i v e then began to formulate plans f o r "A Women's Place". Because the organization of the Women's Place C o l l e c t i v e marks a coming together of what Carden, Freeman, and others have r e f e r r e d to as the "two Streams of feminism" — the younger, more r a d i c a l , and u n i v e r s i t y based "women's l i b e r a t i o n i s t s " , and the older (both chronologically and i n terms of the average age of the p a r t i c i p a n t s ) "women's r i g h t s " groups, i t i s important at t h i s time to look at VOW and the Status of Women i n terms of t h e i r development and the r e f l e c t i o n of t h e i r developmental processes i n the l i v e s of t h e i r members. C. VOICE OF WOMEN The Voice of Women was founded on J u l y 28, I960 , as an organization "dedicated to 'crusading against the p o s s i b i l i t y of nuclear war', and appealing d i r e c t l y to women" (MacPherson and Sears, 1976, 72). I t o r i g i n a l l y sought a more "respectable" image than that of other "ban the bomb" groups, and had as i t s e a r l y leaders many "prominent" women, and wives of "well-known" men, 1) A l l information i n t h i s paragraph and much of that i n the f o l l o w i n g section, taken from notes of interview with Val MacDermot, Sept. 8, 1975-2) In some sense t h i s seems to be a f a l s e dichotomy, as shown by the f a c t that Lynn Teather f i n d s 3, rather than 2, d i v i s i o n s i n her study. As t h i s s e c t i o n w i l l show, the d i f f e r e n c e s l i e more i n o r i g i n and o r i g i n a l o r i e n t a t i o n rather than philosophy as i t had developed by the time of the attempts at s o c i a l change dealt with here. 3) This a r t i c l e i s the source of a l l information i n t h i s section, except that taken from MacDermot interview. ( i b i d ) , i n c l u d i n g Maryon Pearson, wife of the then-Prime M i n i s t e r . One of t h e i r f i r s t acts was to send a delegation to Ottawa, where they were "warmly received". I t s methods were at f i r s t very much i n the t r a d i t i o n of middle-class women's groups; i t s members got signatures on p e t i t i o n s , held p u b l i c meetings, appeared on radio and TV. Funds were r a i s e d by coffee p a r t i e s and donations of family allowance cheques; the focus was on women as nurturers who opposed the possible a n n i h i l a t i o n of the ch i l d r e n to whom they had given b i r t h . In the beginning, VOW "basked i n the kind of acceptance and approval usually given to 'motherhood' causes" ( i b i d , 74) Involvement i n the bi l i n g u a l i s m issue (unpopular i n the early 60's) was the f i r s t i n d i c a t i o n of " r a d i c a l " o r i e n t a t i o n . When the L i b e r a l government reversed i t s stand on nuclear weapons and agreed to allow Bomarc mi s s i l e s to be placed i n Canada, the organization attacked the p o l i c y , and Maryon Pearson resigned. Government approval of VOW dissi p a t e d , and i t was accused by some of being " s o f t on soci a l i s m " . As the war i n Vietnam escalated, so d i d VOW's opposition to i t , and i t s c o n f l i c t with the f e d e r a l government became more and more open. In 1966, a delegation of VOW members went to Ottawa to present a b r i e f urging that Canada take a more independent, peacemaker r o l e i n Vietnam, and i n addition presented b r i e f s protesting Canadian uranium sales, and urging l i b e r a l i z a t i o n of b i r t h control laws. VOW's advocacy of change i n the law regarding the d i s t r i b u t i o n of b i r t h c o n t r o l (such d i s t r i b u t i o n was i l l e g a l , though widely practised, u n t i l 1967) began i n 1964. This was the f i r s t instance of VOW's involvement i n an issue which could be c l a s s i f i e d as "feminist". I t was followed by members' involvement i n c a l l i n g f o r a Royal Commission on the Status of Women i n Canada, "since they recognized that a peaceful world would not be achieved i n a society where women were oppressed and ignored." ( i b i d , 8 l ) Through a l l these a c t i v i t i e s , VOW members came to understand the r e l a t i o n s h i p between government p o l i c y , the i n t e r e s t s of multi-national 18 corporations, and t h e i r i n a b i l i t y to achieve t h e i r goal of disarmament. Through such understandings they became incr e a s i n g l y p o l i t i c a l , i n c r e a s i n g l y r a d i c a l , and i n c r e a s i n g l y aware of the l i m i t e d power of women. They became involved i n organizing conferences of women from many nations, i n c l u d i n g the previously r e f e r r e d to conference with Vietnamese women he l d at UBC i n 1971. From working f o r reform i n the b i r t h control laws, they went on to seek change i n l e g i s l a t i o n concerning abortion. They became involved with grape boycotts, environmental activism, native r i g h t s — a l l kinds of issues which involved the oppression of minorities or c o n f l i c t between economic "progress" and the q u a l i t y of l i f e . In doing so they became aware of t h e i r own oppression as women, j u s t as women involved i n "the movement" had done. In short, women who had become involved i n what they i n i t i a l l y saw as a "motherhood" issue soon found that t h e i r goals could not be attained without basic changes i n the Canadian socio-economic system. They became involved i n issues which were inc r e a s i n g l y c o n t r o v e r s i a l . They met " l i k e -minded women" and created a network which was "co-optable". As MacPherson and Sears state, "across the country VOW members continue to communicate, knowing that t h e i r concern f o r peace unites them on many other issues" ( i b i d , 89)• I t seems obvious that many former VOW members became involved i n feminism. MacPherson i s now a c t i v e i n the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, and as stated, several VOW members became involved i n A Women's Place; but MacPherson and Sears hesitate to commit themselves to making a d e f i n i t e statement concerning t h i s : I t would be g r a t i f y i n g to be able to trace the family trees of the current women's groups back to Voice of Women; h i s t o r y however, can seldom be t a i l o r e d so neatly. ( i b i d , 87) But they do make cl e a r that the members' l i v e s were a l t e r e d i n ways that seem very s i m i l a r to the changes undergone by the members of Women's Lib e r a t i o n groups studied by Stephenson: I t could be argued that the a c t i v i t y of VOW had a greater e f f e c t 19 on i t s own members than on the p a r t i c u l a r events towards which i t was d i r e c t e d . VOW members made the discovery that they could sometimes be agents of change, and i n doing so they were themselves changed. ( i b i d , 8 7 - 8 8 ) The changes described here are int e r n a l / p s y c h o l o g i c a l ; there were also changes made on the personal/interactive l e v e l ; "The growing wave of female d i s a f f e c t i o n with much of the male-dominated world was also r e f l e c t e d on the domestic and personal l e v e l " ( i b i d , 8 8 ) . As stated, changes i n o r i e n t a t i o n to s o c i a l action had already occurred, as VOW members had become more involved with r a d i c a l groups and with feminism. Though the experience of one VOW member must be seen as only her own and not archetypal, the experience of Val MacDermot i s s i g n i f i c a n t here. Val, one of the founders of T r a n s i t i o n House and a T r a n s i t i o n House worker since the house opened, found her experience i n VOW to have a profound e f f e c t on her conception of h e r s e l f and of women: I had been chairperson of VOW i n V i c t o r i a , where VOW was a p a r t i c u l a r l y r a d i c a l and a c t i v i s t group. VOW had taught me how capable women were. The work done was very good, w e l l researched. We moved to Madison, Wisconsin, a f t e r that. That was the year of Cambodia and Kent State. I demonstrated against these things, and marching r a d i c a l i z e d me more. Marlene Dixon came f o r a women's r i g h t s conference — i t was the f i r s t time I'd known where the p o s s i b i l i t y of men being excluded from voting was s e r i o u s l y considered, and that blew my mind. I became chairperson of the PTA c i v i l r i g h t s committee, though they o r i g i n a l l y wanted a chairman. Then we moved back here and I found myself stuck i n a townhouse. I had to get involved working with women. (interview with Val MacDermot, Sept. 8 , 1 9 7 5 ) R e c a l l i n g Stephenson's d e s c r i p t i o n of the changes undergone by regular p a r t i c i p a n t s i n the two Vancouver Women's L i b e r a t i o n groups, i t seems that the changes MacDermot i s describing here, and those that MacPherson and Sears described f o r VOW members i n general, are s i g n i f i c a n t l y s i m i l a r . A l l s t a r t e d by seeing something i n t h e i r r o l e s as women as problematic; f o r VOW members, the problematic t h i n g was the contradiction of being bearers and nurturers of c h i l d r e n at a time when nuclear p r o l i f e r a t i o n threatened to anni h i l a t e the human race. A l l "restructured t h e i r everyday r e a l i t y considerably... have more elaborate s o c i a l networks that serve many more functions... 20 increased their social and p o l i t i c a l skills...have thereby both raised their valuation of themselves and increased their impact upon their environment..." (Stephenson, op c i t , 288). VOW created a co-optable network, and the precip-itants of frustration with government tokenism and broken promises, plus, perhaps, dissatisfaction with trying to organize women on an international scale arising out of the 19?1 conference, acted to incline many VOW members to work towards relieving the oppression of women in a more immediate way. D. THE STATUS OF WOMEN* The Vancouver Status of Women came into being (as the Status of Women Action and Co-ordinating Committee, or SWACC) on Feb. 7, 1971- Alice James, a former income tax assessor returning to community involvement after years of tending a sick child, had written a brief on the economic situation of women for the Royal Commission on the Status of Women. Shortly after the report was tabled, Alice was contacted by Laura Sabia, an executive of the Federation of University Women and an instigator of the commission, and asked to help ensure that the report not be pigeonholed. By this time, Alice was active in the Women's Caucus, putting in many hours in the Labour Temple office. With the help of June Dunlop, a member of both Fomen's Caucus and VOW (later to be a member of the advisory board of Transition House; s t i l l later a prime mover in Rosemary Brown's campaign for the National leadership of the NDP), she contacted women who might be interested in belonging to such an organization. Dunlop and James specifically tried to include low income women and single parents. At the i n i t i a l meeting, the group's purposes were defined: 1) To co-ordinate and ini t i a t e study of the report 2) To co-ordinate and ini t i a t e action for implementation of the recommendations. * I am indebted to Alice James for the loan of her f i l e s , and her willingness to spend time discussing the Status of Women with me. Information from this source i s the basis of this section. 21 These purposes seem to define the organization as a "women's r i g h t s " group, seeking to change the l e g a l and economic status of women by working through e x i s t i n g channels (see Garden, 1974). Perhaps because of t h i s o r i e n t a t i o n the group d i d not succeed i n a t t r a c t i n g women from diverse backgrounds. The f i r s t conference was held at Hycroft, home of the Uni v e r s i t y Women's Club, and an e a r l y mailing l i s t (March, 1971) shows a preponderance of Fest Side addresses. Though the Vancouver Housing Project Council, the B.C. Federation of Low Income C i t i z e n s , and the Vancouver Opportunities Programme are represented, they are overwhelmingly outnumbered by representatives of the U n i v e r s i t y Women's Club, the Business and Professional Women's Club, and VOW (Val MacDermot being one of the l a t t e r ) . Perhaps t h i s again shows that middle-class, u n i v e r s i t y educated women experience the .greatest f e e l i n g s of r e l a t i v e deprivation. But time, too, i s a f a c t o r . As Stephenson noted, professional women, busy as they may be — have more time to spend as they choose than women whose l i v e s must revolve around others (Stephenson, op c i t , 67). But, as we have seen with other groups, middle cl a s s beginnings do not preclude r a d i c a l i z a t i o n . Rosemary Brown, a counsellor at SFU when she joined SWACC at i t s f i r s t meeting, became i t s f i r s t ombudswoman. She has gone on to become the most a r t i c u l a t e and e f f e c t i v e spokesperson f o r women i n the B.C. l e g i s l a t u r e , and to come very close to a t t a i n i n g the leadership of the N.D.P. Her successor as ombudswoman, Gene Errington, also became p o l i t i c i z e d and fought hard f o r s o c i a l change to benefit women during her aborted term as head of the P r o v i n c i a l Government Women's o f f i c e and i s now co-ordinator of the Women's Research Centre. An examination of a current e d i t i o n of K i n e s i s , the Status of Women Newsletter, compared to ea r l y e d i t i o n s of the SWACC news-l e t t e r , shows how much more p o l i t i c a l l y aware and a c t i v i s t the group has become. In the beginning, the newsletter reported on "women's" events — meetings throughout the c i t y , delegates sent to nat i o n a l conventions, with only one section — the one reporting the cases dealt with by the. ombudswoman — that could be seen as "issue oriented". By mid-1972 d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n with the t r a d i t i o n a l , middle-class o r i e n t a t i o n was expressed: " F e l t that we should 22 encourage our membership to develop t h e i r p o t e n t i a l by permitting them to undertake leadership r o l e s and providing support and encouragement. Too much emphasis at present on ' q u a l i f i c a t i o n s ' ; no wonder we are a middle-class group". (Minutes of general meeting, June 20, 1972) Current copies of Kinesis report on a broad range of issues. For example, the October, 1976 e d i t i o n c a r r i e s an a r t i c l e urging women to "study your MLA" by making use of the Status of Women f i l e s ; gives background regarding the Royal Bank d i r e c t o r ' s r e f u s a l to appoint a woman to t h e i r board; and contains an a r t i c l e on "feminist e t h i c s " urging co-operation, c o l l a b o r a t i o n , compromise, openness and honesty, acceptance of each i n d i v i d u a l ' s r i g h t to choose t h e i r l i f e s t y l e and sexual o r i e n t a t i o n , and acc o u n t a b i l i t y of leaders to a l l group members — a l l concepts considered " r a d i c a l " i n North American society. Since almost a l l Status of Women members, at l e a s t i n the ea r l y stages, were women who had been involved with other "women's r i g h t s " or "women's l i b e r a t i o n " groups, part of the process of change on a l l three l e v e l s described by Stephenson would no doubt have taken place p r i o r to t h e i r j o i n i n g SWAAC. But changes d i d take place. I t i s i n t e r e s t i n g here that the greatest degree of change, as manifested i n increased p o l i t i c a l involvement, seems to have taken place among those involved with ombudservice. The ombudswoman's o f f i c e deals most immediately and d i r e c t l y with the i n d i v i d u a l problems of women. I t t r i e s to use e x i s t i n g s o c i e t a l means to resolve them. Through working i n t h i s o f f i c e , women would i n e v i t a b l y see the connections between i n d i v i d u a l problems and s o c i e t a l context, and come to r e a l i z e that changes i n i n d i v i d u a l l i v e s cannot succeed without changes i n s o c i e t a l i n s t i t -utions, or the creation of new i n s t i t u t i o n s . l ) One problem frequently encountered was wife battering, to be discussed i n the following s e c t i o n . I t was because of t h i s that the Status of Women o f f i c e was so int e r e s t e d i n helping T r a n s i t i o n House be r e a l i z e d . (James, 1976) 23 SUMMARY By the f a l l of 1971» a diverse, multi-based women's movement exist e d i n Vancouver. Women who had become involved i n "women's r i g h t s " or "women's l i b e r a t i o n " groups because they saw something i n t h e i r l i v e s as women as problematic, had experienced changes i n themselves, i n t h e i r s o c i a l r e l a t i o n -ships , and i n t h e i r o r i e n t a t i o n to s o c i a l action through that involvement. They had come to see themselves as "actors instead of reactors" (Stephenson, op c i t , 2 8 8 ) ; they had gained confidence i n t h e i r a b i l i t y to influence t h e i r environment. The Vancouver women's movement was coming into a second stage, an action-oriented one. Women had selected c e r t a i n issues as being of p a r t i c u l a r i n t e r e s t . R e a l i z i n g that e x i s t i n g s o c i e t a l i n s t i t u t i o n s d i d not serve the needs of women, they were beginning to create new i n s t i t u t i o n s to serve women's needs. From pr e - e x i s t i n g groups, women came together to create a place f o r women — a "Women's Place". CHAPTER I I : THE BEGINNINGS OF TRANSITION HOUSE Feminism has received much of i t s impetus from the t r a n s l a t i o n of l o f t y , middle-class altruism into the more r e a l i s t i c , emotionally rugged s a l v a t i o n of the s e l f . (Stimpson, 1971, 624) Although the need f o r s o c i a l action, at f i r s t focussed on a place from which women could i n i t i a t e community outreach, was recognized as e a r l y as 1971, i t was to he two-and-a-half more years before the f i r s t r e a l s o c i a l agency organized by and f o r women opened i n Vancouver. This chapter w i l l trace the evolution of T r a n s i t i o n House through that time period, beginning with the organization of "A Women's Place", and culminating with the opening of the house i n December of 1973* A. WOMEN'S PLAGE The Women's Place collective brought together about sixty-five women, most of them from the UBG, VOW and Status of Women groups. Like the great majority of "New Feminists", they were middle-class and well-educated, knowing at f i r s t hand the conflicts (discussed earlier) between traditional "women's roles" and fulfillment of their own needs. They had become involved i n women's issues through various routes, and for reasons which they had often perceived as a l t r u i s t i c . But a l l had found their own lives very changed by their involvement. A l l had found i n feminism an ideology that pertained to problems very real to them, as well as a route to resolution of those problems. As discussed in the previous section, they had achieved changes in their self-images, their relationships, and their orientations to social action through their involvement in the women' movement. Gloria Greenfield, a long-time feminist, women's place volunteer and Transition House founder and worker, told me the meaning of feminism for her in a February, 19?6 interview, "It brought balance to my l i f e . " This does not seem atypical. "A Women's Place" was conceived as a place for feminists to engage in community outreach. It was to provide a means of giving other women the support, the "joy of being understood" that had been instrumental in i t s founders "conversion" to feminism. As stated above, the founders had found in their women's movement activity objective verification of their own subjective knowledge that something in their situation as women was problematic. Enhanced relationships with other women had been an im-portant factor i n the crystallization and resolution of their own conflicts They regarded their associates in the women's movement as a "community of friends" (Stephenson, 246). They had become more appreciative of the capabilities of women through working with them towards common goals, as MacDermot noted (see p. 19). They therefore sought highly personal and direct kinds of outreach, oriented to providing r e l i e f for the im-26 mediate problems common to women. They saw such problems as r e l a t e d to the socio-economic p o s i t i o n of women, but also understood them as constraints which precluded i n d i v i d u a l women from developing t h e i r c a p a c i t i e s . As o r i g i n a l l y announced, i t was intended that: Women's Place w i l l provide f a c i l i t i e s and services, such as an abortion r e f e r r a l centre, advice on b i r t h c o n t r o l and female r e l a t e d medical problems, a women's l i b r a r y , day care, l e g a l a i d , and a s h e l t e r f o r women i n c r i s i s . (Status of Women Newsletter, Vol 11, #8, May, 1972 With government funding through the Company of Young Canadians and LIP grant, A Women's Place opened very e a r l y i n 1972. I t was located i n a store f r o n t "house" near Broadway and Burrard. The "shelter f o r women i n c r i s i s " described above consisted only of an a t t i c with a couple of beds; the remainder of the bu i l d i n g contained the Women's Health C o l l e c t i v e , and the drop in/information centre. S t a f f were a l l volunteers and they could only be av a i l a b l e at l i m i t e d times. Very soon, i t was r e a l i z e d that the "crash" f a c i l i t i e s were woefully inadequate. Women who were being beaten, women no longer able to cope with an a l c o h o l i c husband, desti t u t e s i n g l e mothers f a c i n g e v i c t i o n , and deserted women with ch i l d r e n and no funds were frequently phoning. They needed f i n a n c i a l and emotional support; t h e i r needs could not be met by a 'Women's Place". The ideology of the women's movement holds that women must support other women. For the women of Women's Place, deeply committed to feminism i n a h i g h l y personal way, the ideology meant that they must f i n d a way to help women who were appealing to them f o r support they could not provide. G l o r i a Greenfield, i n a l e t t e r written i n support of an a p p l i c a t i o n f o r grants by the Women i n T r a n s i t i o n Society i n June 1973, described how the p a r t i c u l a r needs of abused women with c h i l d r e n became a focus: 27 While the house wasn't set up to provide accommodation f o r women forced to seek refuge, we could and d i d o f f e r "crash" r e l i e f f o r up to several days when no other immediate means were a v a i l a b l e . This was because these women d i d not q u a l i f y f o r inadequate and l i m i t e d f a c i l i t i e s presently e x i s t i n g . But i n some instances there was genuine concern about these women spending the night alone i n the "house" because of t h e i r shaky emotional state — and i t wasn't always possible to f i n d someone who was fr e e at that p a r t i c u l a r time to stand the night watch.... I t i s worthy of note here that the experience of Women's Place volunteers was not unique. I t echoes the experience of the authors of Women-in T r a n s i t i o n : A Feminist Handbook on Separation and Divorce: Some of us working with the Ph i l a d e l p h i a Women's Centre r e a l i z e d that the Centre was ge t t i n g many c a l l s from women thinking about or going through separation or divorce or r a i s i n g c h i l d r e n alone. The change i n what i s considered a woman's most important r o l e i n t h i s s o c i e t y — that of wife and mother — was generating a l o t of needs i n the women who c a l l e d us...The requests we got were v a r i e d — c a l l s f o r l e g a l counselling and servi c e s , r e f e r r a l s to good t h e r a p i s t s , job t r a i n i n g , employment counselling, informa-t i o n on housing, day care, emotional support — but the same needs were voiced over and over again by d i f f e r e n t women. (Women i n Tr a n s i t i o n , Inc. 1975, l ) A l l of these problems, and a r e l a t e d and more b r u t a l one — that of "wife b a t t e r i n g " came to the attention of the Women's Place workers. I t was recognized that these problems required the existence of a round-the-clock f a c i l i t y , a'Transition House." Volunteers, required to make t h e i r l i v i n g elsewhere or economically dependent on a male and therefore committed to performing household tasks, could not be depended upon to be av a i l a b l e f o r such a f u l l - t i m e demand. Paid s t a f f was necessary. The "Transition House" envisioned would focus on the needs of battered wives — since t h e i r c r i s e s seemed the most Immediate and severe, and t h e i r other recourses so few. A twenty-four hour phone l i n e and f i l e s on a l l women's and community resources would s u f f i c e to help those i n l e s s d r a s t i c circumstances. The f i r s t T r a n s i t i o n House, "Women's Aid" of Chiswick, England, had opened about a year before. I t provided s h e l t e r , support, and access to l e g a l resources f o r women who had been beaten, and who lacked funds. The concept had originated i n the mind of E r i n Pizzey. Ms. Pizzey had grown f r u s t r a t e d i n women's groups where people were " j u s t t a l k i n g and not doing anything. 28 Community outreach was the l o g i c a l and necessary next step." (Search, 1974, 24-26) The idea was s t i l l very new.. T r a n s i t i o n Houses were v i r t u a l l y unknown on t h i s c o n t i n e n t . The founding group had few resources to draw upon; there were no other houses to provide i n f o r m a t i o n on how to s t a r t such a house. (Such information i s now provided s e v e r a l times a month to i n t e r e s t e d groups by Vancouver T r a n s i t i o n House s t a f f . ) The i n i t i a l problems were not only those of f u n d - r a i s i n g , but of working out a reasonable proposal, and g a i n i n g acceptance f o r i t . Because i t i s necessary t o prove t h a t a problem e x i s t s before funds t o a l l e v i a t e t h a t problem can be obtained, the f i r s t task of the "Women i n T r a n s i t i o n " s o c i e t y formed i n mid-1972, was to gather data on the incidence of wife b e a t i n g . L i t t l e i n f o r m a t i o n was a v a i l a b l e . Battered wives had few resources to t u r n t o ; because no one d e a l t w i t h the problem, no one kept s t a t i s t i c s . Because no s t a t i s t i c s on incidence were a v a i l a b l e , i t was not recognized as a problem. Catch 22. P o l i c e d i d de a l w i t h some cases; they "calmed t h i n g s down", and o c c a s i o n a l l y removed a woman to h o s p i t a l , i f her wounds were bad enough, o r to a s k i d row h o t e l i f they were minor. I f the wife wished to pursue the matter, she had to l a y a s s a u l t charges — d i f f i c u l t to do wi t h no means of support except her b a t t e r e r , and no place to go but home. So p o l i c e s t a t i s t i c s only r e f l e c t e d a sm a l l p o r t i o n of the " f a m i l y d i s p u t e s " t h a t a c t u a l l y took place. An a c t i n g s u p e r v i s o r of the p o l i c e department t o l d the Women i n T r a n s i t i o n S o c i e t y : We r e c e i v e f i f t y t o s i x t y c a l l s a month concerning f a m i l y problems which r e s u l t i n w r i t t e n r e p o r t s . We als o r e c e i v e many c a l l s which are not a matter f o r the p o l i c e . ( L e t t e r to co-ordinator o f Women In T r a n s i t i o n S o c i e t y , Nov. 23, 1972) He does not i n d i c a t e how p o l i c e d i s t i n g u i s h " p o l i c e matters" from those "which are not a matter f o r the p o l i c e " . But h i s l e t t e r d i d i n d i c a t e l ) F urther i n s i g h t s i n t o the kin d s of c r i t e r i a p o l i c e d i s p a t c h e r s use to make such d i s t i n c t i o n s can be gained by reading Gene E r r i n g t o n ' s t h e s i s . E r r i n g t o n i n d i c a t e s t h a t i n t e r v e n t i o n i s p a r t of an o r g a n i z a t i o n a l process p r i m a r i l y concerned w i t h the economic use of funds (107-8) and tha t " c i v i l d isturbances", i n c l u d i n g " f a m i l y d i s p u t e s " were not g e n e r a l l y considered " p o l i c e matters" (71-72) . 29 that domestic disputes are not uncommon. In Canada i n 1974, 1?1 mqrders — 34% of the t o t a l — were committed by people i n intimate domestic r e l a t i o n s h i p s with t h e i r victims ( S t a t i s t i c s Canada: Homicide i n Canada, 1974). Cruelty was c i t e d i n 495 divorce cases f i l e d at Vancouver i n 1975 (13-75% of the t o t a l ) . (United Way) Though t h i s s t a t i s t i c would include both p h y s i c a l and mental c r u e l t y , the l a t t e r i s much more d i f f i c u l t to prove and i s therefore used much l e s s frequently. I t would not include the large number of cases where bat t e r i n g has occurred but no evidence i s av a i l a b l e , nor the cases where lawyers have "bargained" to protect the offending spouse. B. WIFE BATTERING AS A FEMINIST ISSUE I t was appropriate that the women of "Women's Place" came to focus t h e i r energy on e s t a b l i s h i n g a refuge f o r battered wives, f o r wife b a t t e r i n g i s an appropriate matter f o r feminist concern. I t epitomizes the oppression of females by males, i n a society c o n t r o l l e d by men. Violence within marriage s i g n i f i e s i n s t i t u t i o n a l i z e d male dominance i n i t s most blatant and yet most intimate form. As Del Martin has shown, (1976, ch. l ) mar i t a l violence i s an ine v i t a b l e r e s u l t of s o c i a l i z a t i o n which teaches men to be aggressive and com-p e t i t i v e , and women to be passive and-submissive. I t i s a r e s u l t of viewing women as property, as belongings which t h e i r husbands can use — or abuse — at t h e i r w i l l . As Kate M i l l e t t has stated, "sexual dominion obtains as the most pervasive ideology of our culture and provides i t s most fundamental con-cept of power". ( M i l l e t t , I969, 49) To peruse any copy of the current "magazines f o r Men", or to view any of the popular "porno" f i l m s — or even "big-budget" movies such as Clockwork Orange or Straw Dogs i s to understand M i l l e t t ' s t r u t h . Men are shown overwhelming women by force, and enjoying i t . We equate sex with dominance and violence, not with love and j o y f u l sharing between equals. Men are expected to dominate women, and when t h e i r dominion i s threatened, they r e s o r t to force. Steinmetz and Strauss (1973) suggest that willingness to use p h y s i c a l force may compensate f o r lack of other resources, such as 30 money, knowledge, and respect. (Downey and Howell, 1976, 26) In h i s inves-t i g a t i o n of s t r u c t u r a l f a c t o r s which appear to have a bearing on family violence, Tidmarsh (197°), corroborates Gelles (1972) hypothesis that women who are beaten tend to have more education than t h e i r husbands. Martin (op. c i t ) and Komorovsky (1964) remark on t h i s phenomenon as w e l l . Women who hold higher status jobs than t h e i r husband and/or are better paid also run greater r i s k of being beaten (Tidmarsh, op. c i t ) . Such a wife doesn't "know her place" — she threatens the husband's t r a d i t i o n a l breadwinner r o l e . As E i c h l e r notes, (1973, 46) "a woman's derived status i s always supposed to be above or at l e a s t equal to her independent status." I t i s women who somehow slcew the "normal" male dominant, female subordinate dyad that run the greatest r i s k of being p h y s i c a l l y abused. Husbands who f e e l they are no longer "head of house-hold" may use violence to gain c o n t r o l . While such a s t r i k i n g out may be seen as a v e n t i l a t i o n of f r u s t r a t i o n against a h i e r a r c h i c a l system that oppresses men as w e l l as women, and defines a l l r e l a t i o n s h i p s , i n c l u d i n g marriage, as systems i n which one p a r t i c i p a n t must have c o n t r o l , the behaviour cannot be condoned. Because men are generally bigger than women, and because males are given more opportunity to p a r t i c i p a t e i n "body contact" sports and a c t i v i t i e s , men can almost always overpower t h e i r female partners. Physical strength i s s t i l l equated with power, and power seen as a necessary concomittant of a c o n t r o l which must be asserted. The "battered wife" has not been regarded as much of a problem u n t i l r e c-ently, because i t has been considered normal and appropriate f o r a man to chastise h i s wife. This a t t i t u d e has i t s o r i g i n s i n the " p a t r i a potestas" of ancient Rome, which made the eldest male parent absolute r u l e r over h i s household. I t has been contended (see M i l l e t t , op c i t , 53) that t h i s dominion extended to the r i g h t of l i f e and death over wife, c h i l d r e n and slaves. In any case, corporal punishment would have been well within a husband's r i g h t s . l ) For a good discussion of P a t r i a r c h a l Attitudes, see Eva Figes' book of that name. 31 Women have not fared much better under Judaism and C h r i s t i a n i t y , which have held women c o l l e c t i v e l y responsible f o r the expulsion of man from para-dise and condemned her to s u f f e r f o r her sins e t e r n a l l y : Unto the woman he sa i d , I w i l l g r e atly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; i n sorrow thou s h a l t b r i n g f o r t h children; and thy desire s h a l l be to thy husband and he s h a l l r u l e over thee. (Genesis 3, 16) Attitudes have not changed a l l that much. On Concern, a CBC programme broadcast on January 2, 1977, a fundamentalist minister talked at some length concerning the duty of a " C h r i s t i a n wife and mother" to obey her husband, because "As God i s head of man, so man i s head of woman." Though he might not condone wife beating, many people do. Del Martin quotes a study by Howard Erlanger which d i s c l o s e d that 25% of h i s sample approved of husband-wife b a t t l e s . "What i s more s u r p r i s i n g i s that the greater the educational l e v e l , the greater was the acceptance." (Martin, op c i t , 19) The Harris p o l l , with a l a r g e r and more representative sample (117& adults) showed that o n e - f i f t h of those p o l l e d approved of slapping one's spouse on "appropriate" occasions. Again, acceptance increased with education (Martin, 19-20). And a recent judge's r u l i n g i n Scotland, quoted i n the Toronto Globe and Mail , upheld a man's r i g h t to chastise h i s wife, "within reason", ( i b i d ) Acceptance of a man's r i g h t to " d i s c i p l i n e " h i s wife may p r e v a i l because the family i s a microcosm of soci e t y , and shares i t s h i e r a r c h i c a l structure, a structure which as come to be accepted because i t i s seen as 'normal'. Cynthia Flood has stated: Because of the way i t i s organized, the family i n s t i l l s into people the kinds of attitudes and ways of thinking and f e e l i n g that are u s e f u l f o r the people who co n t r o l our socie t y . In general the family i s organized h i e r a r c h i c a l l y , so that the man or husband c a l l s the shots, has co n t r o l , d i s -c i p l i n e s the c h i l d r e n and the wife i f necessary, and can override or veto the wishes or decisions of other family members. L i v i n g thus i n a microcosm of the l a r g e r society, c h i l d r e n l e a r n that there i s somebody at the top, u s u a l l y male, who has the r i g h t to say Yes or No and to make you do things. (Flood, 1975, 13) 32 Although there i s a d i f f e r e n c e between d i s c i p l i n e and battering, the dif f e r e n c e i s more quan t i t a t i v e than q u a l i t a t i v e . While a black eye and a broken r i b are more hazardous than a spanking, both are demeaning; both deny the f a c t that women are mature adults. Like c h i l d abuse — also ' d i s c i p l i n e ' gone 'too f a r ' , b a t t e r i n g i s an extreme form of keeping a subordinate, over whom one f e e l s the r i g h t of c o n t r o l and dominion, i n her place. In r e j e c t i n g the concept that women are i n f e r i o r to men, and are men's property, feminists also r e j e c t the notion that a man has a r i g h t to c o n t r o l h i s wife's — or any other woman's — behaviour. Wife beating i s obviously a matter f o r feminist concern, and i t i s feminist concern that has made i t into a p u b l i c issue i n the l a s t couple of years. Edminston notes that recent concern about wife battering . . . i s part of the r e c o g n i t i o n of widespread i n j u s t i c e s toward the female sex and a r e j e c t i o n of the notion that wives are "property" subject to domination and c o r r e c t i o n by t h e i r husbands. Less d i r e c t l y , the new focus on wife abuse i s associated with a s h i f t i n values; i t i s no longer considered " r i g h t " to endure any i n d i g n i t y to preserve a marriage. This has enabled people to begin looking at the problem instead of sweeping i t under the rug. (Edminston, 1976, 110) The f a c t that no one was looking at the problem was obvious to the members of the Women i n T r a n s i t i o n s o c i e t y . As previously stated, l a c k of data concerning wife b a t t e r i n g was a major problem i n putting together an acceptable proposal f o r t h e i r p r o j e c t . C. THE BEGINNINGS OF TRANSITION HOUSE The "Women i n T r a n s i t i o n " f i l e , given to me by the Status of Women's o f f i c e , indicates that a great deal of thought and energy was expended i n the organizational phase. Pages of hand w r i t t e n notes r e f l e c t many "brain storming" sessions and a gradual agreement on philosophy and goals. Nor was work l i m i t e d to the meetings; the major work of contacting i n d i v i d u a l s and groups who might be of help, and of d r a f t i n g grant a p p l i c a t i o n s , went on outside of them. The group contained women with experience i n teaching, book-keeping, and running a l l kinds of o f f i c e equipment. Because they had perfected these s k i l l s i n the service of others, they were now able to apply them to serve t h e i r own i n t e r e s t s . T h e i r approach was pragmatic, purposeful, and w e l l organized. Letters were written to the YWCA, the p o l i c e , newspapers, the S a l v a t i o n Army, c r i s i s centre, church groups, H e l p f u l Neighbours' Association, Children's Aid, C a t h o l i c Children's Aid, Jewish Family Service Agency, U n i t a r i a n Family L i f e Centre, the Mental Patients' Association — any and a l l organizations who might have been approached by desperate women — asking f o r l e t t e r s of support f o r the project. The r e s u l t s of t h i s survey confirmed t h e i r b e l i e f that a refuge f o r women was necessary. While the YWCA and other hostel-type accomodations provided s h e l t e r f o r si n g l e women, and a few she l t e r s offered short-term accomodations to women with c h i l d r e n , a l l e x i s t i n g f a c i l i t i e s recognized that they could not meet most demands. None could provide support and access to community and l e g a l resources. Of a l l agencies contacted, only the Salvation Army refused to support the plan, on the grounds that i t s own i n s t i t u t i o n , the Catherine Booth Home, f u l -1 f i l l e d the need. Since the Women i n T r a n s i t i o n group f e l t that Catherine Booth lacked a supportive atmosphere and had a philosophy very d i f f e r e n t than the philosophy they proposed f o r t h e i r house, and since the need obviously exceeded the Salvation Army's f a c i l i t i e s anyway, the group continued to work f o r t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n house. The l e t t e r s of support which had been received from contacted agencies were enclosed with an a p p l i c a t i o n f o r a LIP grant made i n November 1972. The a p p l i c a t i o n was passed at l o c a l and regional l e v e l s . The group, hopeful of approval from Ottawa as we l l , received an equivocal promise from the P r o v i n c i a l M i n i s t e r of Human Resources, i n the then reigning New Demo-l ) Catherine Booth no longer takes women with children; i t ceased doing so i n the spring of 1976. 34 c r a t i c government, that h i s department would cover rent costs i f the LIP grant f o r wages was approved. But on January 25, 1973 the Women i n Trans-i t i o n s o c i e t y received a form l e t t e r t e l l i n g them that project X1626 had "been turned down. Perhaps t h i s r e j e c t i o n was due to the f a c t that some of the org-anizers were hoping to work i n the f a c i l i t y ; perhaps i t was because of the project's cost, although the o r i g i n a l estimate had been reduced, and f a r more expensive projects d i d receive funding at that time. Or perhaps the project f a i l e d because i t was a "women's pro j e c t " . Few women's groups got funding that year. Even the Status of Women's o f f i c e , previously i n r e c e i p t of LIP grants, and devoted to the implementation of a government commission's report, got i t s funds cut o f f u n t i l a review took place. And perhaps the project was f e l t to endanger the s a n c t i t y of the nuclear family. The a p p l i c a t i o n men-tioned "women i n d i s t r e s s who found t h e i r present domestic s i t u a t i o n i n t o l e r a b l e , and who were reaching out f o r help i n t h e i r need to separate themselves, f o r a short period at l e a s t , from problems that l e d them to the point of desper-a t i o n . " (LIP grant a p p l i c a t i o n , project d e s c r i p t i o n , 2) When the grant was denied, there was great disappointment. Appeals to Grace Maclnnis, Jack Davis, and other members of parliament had no e f f e c t . Grants f o r a Women's Place had also run out, and i t was to close i n May. The only "information" centre then a v a i l a b l e to women was the Women's Centre on Hastings Street — a remnant of the Women's Caucus — and i t was already sharing space with the Working Women's Association. I t looked as i f the government's i n t e r e s t i n women had only amounted to defraying the cost of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women. Though the Commission's report had contained Margaret F u l l e r ' s quote: Women are the best helpers of one another. Let them think, l e t them act, t i l l they know what they need. We only ask of men to remove the a r b i t r a r y b a r r i e r s . Some would l i k e to do more. But I believe i t needs that woman show h e r s e l f i n her native d i g n i t y to teach them how to a i d her; t h e i r minds are so encumbered by t r a d i t i o n . (Report of the Royal Commission on the Status of Women, 1970, 18) 35 the government which had tabled the report was not w i l l i n g to pay f o r women to work at supporting each other. Several women, out of time, money and energy, l e f t the project at t h i s point, though a core group stayed on. One of those who l e f t went to work at the Status of Women's o f f i c e . Her discussion of the project aroused new i n t e r e s t there, and the o f f i c e began to work with the o r i g i n a l Women i n T r a n s i t i o n group more c l o s e l y . Meetings continued. More applications were made, now to s e r v i c e clubs and foundations; the f i l e s contain l e t t e r s to nine organizations approached at that time. The e f f o r t was unsuccessful; perhaps i t i s contradictory to the purposes of male service clubs to support projects which might give wives more options. The focus then s h i f t e d to p r o v i n c i a l and municipal governments. At t h i s l e v e l , the p o l i t i c a l climate was more welcoming. The NDP were s t i l l buoyant a f t e r t h e i r v i c t o r y of the previous year, and they were anxious to be innovative. The M i n i s t e r of Human Resources agreed to " s t a f f " the house, though i t was not quite understood what that meant. Vancouver C i t y Council, while on the whole more conservative than the p r o v i n c i a l government, had -=- then as now — i t s r a d i c a l members. At both l e v e l s , there were feminists holding o f f i c e . Rosemary Brown was now an NDP MLA, and Darlene Marzari was head of the Vancouver S o c i a l Services Planning Committee. An a p p l i c a t i o n f o r funding was r e c e i v i n g favourable consideration from c i t y c o u n c i l during the summer of 1973, and i n September coun c i l agreed to support the project i f cost-sharing with V i c t o r i a could be arranged. The house seemed l i k e a r e a l p o s s i b i l i t y again. Val MacDermot and G l o r i a Greenfield, now backed by the support and contacts made through the Status of Women's o f f i c e , met with Darlene Marzari. Ms. Marzari was enthus-i a s t i c . She found that rooms could be made ava i l a b l e i n the Bridge Y (now defunct). Though t h i s would have meant turning the administration of the pro-j e c t over to the Y — i n e f f e c t banning the women who had given so much to the project from working on i t — and would have located the f a c i l i t y i n the l e s s than 36 i d e a l north-end G r a n v i l l e bridge area, i t was considered. In early December, a better opportunity was presented. Through a member of Status of Women, the a s s i s t a n t to the M i n i s t e r of Human Resources had become interested. He managed to discover funds a v a i l a b l e f o r such a f a c i l i t y and already appropriated to Children's A i d Society and CAS j u s t happened to have purchased a house which was adequate, i f not i d e a l . CAS was more than w i l l i n g ; the Resource Boards which the NDP government would set up i n 1974 to administer a l l s o c i a l services were already i n the planning stages. CAS was anxious to have as many f a c i l i t i e s as possible under i t s umbrella when that takeover came. I t was agreed by a l l concerned parti e s — Status of Women, Women i n T r a n s i t i o n Society, Children's A i d Society and the Department of Human R e s o u r c e s — that the house would be run by the s t a f f , with supervision by an advisory board, c o n s i s t i n g of women from Status of Women and CAS. Women who had worked on the project were i n v i t e d to apply f o r p o s i t i o n s as Trans-i t i o n House workers. Val MacDermot and G l o r i a Greenfield d i d apply and they and two other women were h i r e d . They, along with Board members, conducted another interview Lo bring the s t a f f complement,to ten. . T r a n s i t i o n House opened i t s doors on December 23, 1974. I t took almost two years to bring T r a n s i t i o n House into existence. For the women who had worked to make t h e i r conception a r e a l i t y , the experience was one which v a l i d a t e d t h e i r feminist b e l i e f s . With no help from men, they had seen a need, devised a pragmatic and workable scheme f o r getting that need f u l f i l l e d , and had seen t h e i r plans made manifest. As many feminist writers have noted,women's lack of b e l i e f i n t h e i r own c a p a b i l i t i e s i f often the greatest obstacle to t h e i r achievement. The women who planned T r a n s i t i o n l ) The c r i t e r i a by which the s t a f f were chosen w i l l be discussed i n the second section of the following chapter. House had gained confidence i n women's a b i l i t i e s through working i n women's groups p r i o r to t h e i r involvement i n that project. Now the a c t u a l i z a t i o n of t h e i r goal increased t h i s confidence. The sense of the possible emanating from t h i s success has been an invaluable asset to a l l s t a f f persons. A l l of us know that T r a n s i t i o n House e x i s t s because of the w i l l , energy, and a b i l i t i e s of a group of women, two of whom are s t i l l members of our c o l l e c t -i v e . This enables us to assert ourselves when dealing with family courts, lawyers, s o c i a l workers and bureaucrats. And, i n turn, i t helps our e f f o r t s to give residents a b e l i e f i n t h e i r own c a p a b i l i t i e s . As Val MacDermot noted of her experience i n VOW, working with women has taught us how capable women are. The focus i n t h i s chapter has been on s o c i a l change, but i t must be noted that success i n such action creates changes i n self-image, and working towards common goals affirms r e l a t i o n s h i p s between women. Such continuing increase i n awareness and i n fe e l i n g s of competence can be the source of energy to continue working f o r change. The i n t e r a c t i o n of personal and s o c i a l change can thus be seen as a feedback system, rather than a l i n e a r process. 38 CHAPTER I I I : TRANSITION HOUSE IN OPERATION I heard about T r a n s i t i o n House from a f r i e n d , and a r r i v e d there about 5 P'U' We had dinner. I put the kids to bed and then there was a house meeting to discuss who would take out the garbage. I t was j u s t l i k e home. (Ex-resident, quoted i n the Vancouver Province, Aug. 27, 1974) Working on a "Women i n T r a n s i t i o n " s o c i e t y i s one thing; operating an actual, f unctioning T r a n s i t i o n House on a day-to-day basis i s quite another. A t h e o r e t i c a l understanding of the oppression of women, or an understanding gained through r e s t r i c t i o n s of opportunity, or even through oppressive per-sonal r e l a t i o n s h i p s , i s also d i f f e r e n t from working with women whose oppres-sion i s immediate and c r i t i c a l . This chapter w i l l examine the functioning of the House, and of the c o l l e c t i v e which makes up i t s s t a f f , and the r e l a t i o n s h i p of that operation to the feminist philosophy of the house's founders. My own knowledge of the house commences some three months a f t e r i t s opening, when I applied to work there. I have read the logs from the f i r s t day of operation, and have talk e d to many s t a f f members about happenings during the three months I missed. The s t a r t was apparently slow, due to u n f a m i l i a r i t y of r e f e r r i n g agencies with the house, and to the f a c t that Christmas and New Year's holidays occurred s h o r t l y a f t e r the opening. By e a r l y i n the new year (1974) however, the house was f u l l , proving again the t r u t h of Del Martin's remark to me, "You don't need s t a t i s t i c s . A l l anybody needs to know i s that whenever and wherever a refuge has been opened, i t has been f u l l and turning people away within two weeks." 39 A. THE HOUSE A few days a f t e r I was h i r e d as a T r a n s i t i o n House worker, I v i s i t e d the house i n order to f a m i l i a r i z e myself with i t before I a c t u a l l y worked a s h i f t . I had thought a l o t about the house i n the week since I had been interviewed. I had envisioned a large, rambling house, of stone, or — more r e a l i s t i c a l l y — of wood, f u l l of large rooms, f i r e p l a c e s , overstuffed and pleasantly thread-bare f u r n i t u r e . I t would be fronted by a large porch, with s t a i r s sweeping to green lawns set with swings and sandboxes. A t r a n q u i l , therapeutic environment; an i d y l l i c s e t t i n g i n which to r e -think a l i f e — and, i n Vancouver i n the 1970s, a p r o h i b i t i v e l y expensive one. Instead, a 33-foot l o t , a large, cement, box-like structure, separated only by a blanket-sized p l o t and a short brown fence from the cacophony of an east Vancouver thoroughfare. Ringing the doorbell r e s u l t e d i n the opening of a small door-within-door. I was female, and expected, so the door was q u i c k l y opened, by a woman wearing keys around her neck, and a smile. Inside, I found l i t t l e to ease the eye or mind. A two-year-old boy jumped o f f a table and vaulted into my arms; a TV blared at the assorted ch i l d r e n plugged in t o i t ; a phone rang. Women and c h i l d r e n were everywhere — s i t t i n g i n twos and threes on the couch and on f l o o r p illows, standing with marked up news-paper to be next i n l i n e f o r the phone. On t h i s f i r s t v i s i t , they a l l blended together. The idea of d i f f e r e n t i a t i n g i n d i v i d u a l s , hearing t h e i r s t o r i e s well enough to ascertain what help they need, and knowing the names, ages and k i n s h i p of each c h i l d seemed an insurmountable task. Yet f o r a new s t a f f member, or an " o n - c a l l " s t a f f who hasn't worked f o r a while, t h i s must be — and i s — soon accomplished. Each new resident accomplishes these things too. The door-opener, who knew who I was and introduced h e r s e l f by her 40 f i r s t name, took me around the corner, into an ex-kitchen-cum-outer-office/sitting room. It is used for graveyard naps and quiet consultations, and for spillover of office necessities from the small inner office (once a pantry) which lies through yet another doorway. This area is just big enough for a desk, two chairs, and an old dresser for supplies. The desk overflows with log,, files, directories, phone and manuals; the walls are papered with charts, timesheets, memoes and calendars. It is in this small space that a l l record-keeping and official house "business" is done. The most vital infor-mation given during intake of a new resident, or a crisis of one who has been here for a while, as well as such mundane but necessary data as a reminder that day staff should buy toilet paper, is exchanged and recorded here. The next week, I did my fi r s t intake in that office. I held a new resident's baby as she f i l l e d out a card with essential information; her name, last address, the names and ages of her children, person to be con-tacted in case of emergency, reason for coming (always, this is the most difficult question to answer), names of people she wanted to be able to contact her here, and names of people she didn't want to know where she was. Another line asked for medical information; allergies and diseases that she or her children might have, or drugs they might be taking. Like a majority of residents, this woman was taking Valium. I explained that we prefer to keep a l l drugs locked in the office, so that children cannot find them in grown-up's purses and consume them as candy. The keys were now around my neck. They do not lock the outside doors, as I had first presumed; * The card does not ask for age, nor for income or employment information. This is because we don't believe these to be necessary for our work, and feel i t would be an invasion of the privacy of the resident to demand these. We do ask "reason for coming", because i t is necessary to know this in order to help give legal and medical advice when that is necessary, and to deter-mine the degree of danger she may be in. 41 the house i s never locked from the outside, because i t i s never empty, nor without s t a f f on duty. Rather, they unlock a basement storage room, and the small drawer i n the cast-off teacher's desk at which I was s i t t i n g . The valium goes i n that drawer, together with the house money, and the medication of a l l the other residents. I t o l d the woman the truth; kids do get into p i l l s . So do women under stress, and too t i r e d to count, or to care, how many they have already had, or whether the prescription that one doctor gave can be safely taken simultaneously with a dif f e r e n t medication from a d i f f e r e n t doctor. We do not "lay t r i p s " on our residents, but we do accept r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r the safety of our residents, i n so f a r as we can. The new resident wanted to t a l k , as most do. The question, "reason f o r coming", often i s seen as an opportunity to have a story heard. She t o l d me of the alcoholism and the beatings that had gone on f o r so many years, and I assured her that she was safe here, and would have time to make up her mind what she wanted to do and where she wanted to go. I t o l d her the house rules; — no men, no booze, no dope — and explained the co-op nature of the house. She would have to cook once a week, and thought she could handle that. There would be a resident's meeting Sunday night to assign chores and cooking days. The way to her room took us past the door which once made two houses from what i s now one, f o r t r a n s i t i o n house i s a duplex now joined. Upstairs, I showed her another, quieter, l i v i n g room. Like the downstairs one, i t i s furnished i n catalogue modern, th i s time i n red and ol i v e green. Books tattered by toddlers brim shelves, and plants f i l l the windowsills and hang from holders macramaed by s t a f f and ex-residents. A dining table occupies the near end of the room, and two women sat there, t a l k i n g over tea. I introduced both by t h e i r f i r s t names; one was my co-worker, the other a resident who had come i n the previous day. Beyond the kitchen where one woman was cooking and another making a baby b o t t l e , there are more s t a i r s . 42 At the top i s a bathroom, one of two i n the house, and three bedrooms; three more are on the f i r s t f l o o r . Twin beds, a table between, one dresser, and a cot f o r the baby f i l l the space; there i s barely room f o r us to move between. But i t was clean, smelling of the pinesol my partner and I had wiped i t down with an hour before. And she was lucky; a resident with two ch i l d r e n had ju s t moved out, so the room was hers alone f o r a while. She put her things away, and 1 went to the dining room and r e f i l l e d the teapot. She joined me, and we made four f o r tea. The conversation flowed e a s i l y . She ta l k e d about her experience, and the r e s t of us nodded under-standing, knowing t h i s was a time f o r l i s t e n i n g . A f t e r a while, she was f i n i s h e d and the pot was dry. My co-worker mentioned that the woman who had been i n room s i x before her had been assigned the job of keeping the kitchen f l o o r clean. Gould she take that over? She had become a member of a co-op house. B. THE STAFF " A l l you s t a f f are j u s t l i k e wise best f r i e n d s " . (Ex-resident during phone c a l l , December, 1976) Because the idea f o r the house or i g i n a t e d with feminists, and because the o r i g i n a l board of d i r e c t o r s was made up of women active i n the Status of Women, i t i s to be expected that women aware, and supportive, of feminist ideas would be h i r e d to s t a f f i t , and that the s t a f f would operate the house as a c o l l e c t i v e , to avoid hierarchy and competition, two c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of male i n s t i t u t i o n s that feminists decry. When s t a f f were selected, i t was on the basis of a b i l i t y to empathize with women i n c r i s i s . Relevant l i f e experience — i n c l u d i n g having gone through marital breakdown, being a sing l e parent, and/or having been involved i n working with women or childr e n , or i n a c o l l e c t i v e , was the most necessary q u a l i f i c a t i o n . Two large "open interview" sessions were held. Members of the advisory board selected four women (including, as previously stated, two who had worked on the Women i n T r a n s i t i o n project) at the f i r s t session, and were joined by them i n choosing s i x other workers the following day. At both interviews, applicants were requested to make short, succinct statements about t h e i r backgrounds as they pertained to the prospective job. This task was, i n i t s e l f , a t e s t of a b i l i t y to think under pressure, an a t t r i b u t e most nec-essary f o r T r a n s i t i o n House work. Since the house was conceived as a supportive refuge, and not an i n s t i t u t i o n , women with background i n t r a d i t i o n a l kinds of " s o c i a l work" were eliminated. (When I was hir e d , three months l a t e r , at another large "open interview", i t was because of my experience as a volunteer with the Indian Eskimo Association, as a nursery school teacher, and as a sole-support mother. My sociology background was an obstacle the h i r i n g committee decided to overlook.) As the house was to operate as a c o l l e c t i v e , women with experience i n working c o l l e c t i v e l y were given preference. Attempts were made to employ women of varying ages, and from a wide v a r i e t y of backgrounds, to increase the l i k e l i h o o d of commonalities between s t a f f and residents. Though, o v e r a l l , s t a f f tends to be more "middle-class" than residents i n terms of years of education and status of t h e i r family of o r i g i n , a l l s t a f f have, f o r long periods of time, taken r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r the support of themselves and ( i n most cases) t h e i r c h i l d r e n . We have managed on welfare, unemployment insurance, or on wages from "women's work".. S t a f f are extremely aware that few women i n our society are t r u l y tenured members of the middle c l a s s . Again, Garden's point about the " r e l a t i v e deprivation" of middle-class, well-educated women must be r e -membered (see page 7 );because we expected more than working cl a s s women do, 44 our subjective oppression may f e e l greater, though our actual deprivation may be l e s s . Because we have f e l t such subjective deprivation, s t a f f tend to be p o l i t i c a l l y r a d i c a l . Such action manifests i t s e l f not only i n employment which i s feminist-oriented, but i n a c t i v i t y i n SORWUC (see page 12 , and chapter following) and i n p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the Women's R a l l y f o r Action, held i n V i c t o r i a i n March, 1976, and the October 14th day of protest against wage co n t r o l s . One s t a f f member can boast that she was a founding member of Henry Wallace's Progressive Party i n 1947; f o r most of us, r a d i c a l p o l i t i c s , and feminism, came much l a t e r . When I asked one worker about the o r i g i n s of her commitment to feminism, she responded; "I've always f e l t that I was a s o c i a l i s t , before I'd ever r e a l l y thought about feminism — but the feminism n a t u r a l l y flowed out of the s o c i a l i s m . " Her understandings r e f l e c t the t r u t h of Peggy Morton's statement, now become c l i c h e ; "A feminist who i s not a s o c i a l i s t lacks breadth; a s o c i a l i s t who i s not a feminist lacks understanding." Even f o r those s t a f f who had not been involved i n "women's l i b e r a t i o n " or other "consciousness r a i s i n g " groups p r i o r to beginning work at T r a n s i t i o n House, feminist understanding soon evolved. I t would be impossible to work there f o r long without seeing s o c i e t a l forces at work, patterns of problems emerging. We see too many women who have i n t e r n a l i z e d the C i n d e r e l l a myth. They have married to escape an unhappy home, only to become trapped i n a home even le s s happy. The s k i l l s they have, as homemakers, are not valued by society, though they are e s s e n t i a l to i t s functioning. Most s t a f f have ex-perienced at f i r s t hand the problems of 'working mothers' with l i m i t e d funds — f i n d i n g day care, co-ordinating transportation, and coping with the pervasive f e e l i n g that you can never give enough to your job, nor to your c h i l d r e n . Several have known the f r u s t r a t i o n and powerlessness of l i v i n g on welfare. 45 I f s t a f f are more aware than most residents are that such problems cannot be t r u l y resolved by i n d i v i d u a l s a c t i n g alone, i t i s because they see s i m i l a r i t i e s that l i n k t h e i r l i v e s to those of the women they work with. I t i s because t h e i r own subjective knowledge of the in e q u i t i e s i n society has been augmented by t h e i r awareness that the majority of women they meet i n t h e i r work must eventually overcome the obstacles that they faced. Since no s t a f f had previous experience working i n such a f a c i l i t y , a l l have learned by doing. For Val MacDermot and G l o r i a Greenfield, and other s t a f f members whose involvement with feminism had been at l e a s t p a r t i a l l y t h e o r e t i c a l , and whose main i n t e r a c t i o n had been with women who shared t h e i r feminist philosophy, there was s t i l l much to l e a r n . The newly h i r e d s t a f f met c o l l e c t i v e l y each day f o r two weeks of 'orientation', between t h e i r h i r i n g and the opening of the house. They set p o l i c y , provisioned the house, worked out budgets, and attended to multitudinous other d e t a i l s — and they began to lear n more about working together. The f a c t that no one had done what they were now doing helped avoid r i g i d i t y ; no one could say "but t h i s i s the way that has always been done." Common sense, empathy, and an intense b e l i e f i n what they are doing have served s t a f f w e l l . A l l workers have gradually acquired s k i l l s i n advocacy, knowledge of welfare regulations and family court procedures, and s k i l l s i n "active l i s t e n i n g " . They have learned to cope with new s i t u -ations and emergencies as these have a r i s e n . Only one of the o r i g i n a l s t a f f chosen d i d not work out; more oriented to t r a d i t i o n a l counselling, she was glad to leave, and was replaced by a woman who had narrowly missed being h i r e d at a previous interview. There are seventeen t r a n s i t i o n house workers at present. Of t h i s group, twelve are involved i n women's groups outside the house; twelve are involved i n NDP/socialist p o l i t i c s ; a l l — since they are members of SORWUC — are involved (some more a c t i v e l y than others) i n unions f o r working women. A l l s t a f f are "women oriented women" i n that they value t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s with 46 women and gain a great deal of emotional support from other women. That does not, however, imply that none have good r e l a t i o n s h i p s with men. Of the seventeen s t a f f , two are married; i n one case, the marriage i s a long-standing one; i n the other case (my own) the marriage has only r e c e n t l y been l e g a l i z e d , f o l l o w i n g a two-year common-law r e l a t i o n s h i p . One other s t a f f member ha a common-law r e l a t i o n s h i p of f i v e years duration. Two women l i v e with male partners. Three women are s i n g l e and c h i l d l e s s , though two of these are i n t h e i r mid-twenties and may perhaps choose to have chi l d r e n i n the future. A l l of the s i n g l e group have l i v e d with men i n the past, and might do so again, i f a r e l a t i o n s h i p warranted i t . There are s i x 'single mothers', who l i v e with t h e i r c hildren; three of these women have never been married, and chose to r a i s e t h e i r c h i l d r e n alone. The other three are divorced. There i s a t o t a l of f i v e divorced women on s t a f f . This t o t a l includes myself (divorced and r e -married) — my case i s one of three i n which women, i n t h e i r mid- t o - l a t e t h i r t i e s , separated from t h e i r husbands a f t e r long term marriages s h o r t l y before commencing work at T r a n s i t i o n House. Another woman, divorced a f t e r a short war-time marriage, had been remarried and has separated again while employed at the house. This l a t t e r case i s one of three i n which a s t a f f member has separated from her husband a f t e r commencing work. This f a c t i n d i -cates that working i n a s i t u a t i o n where marital breakdown i s normative may a f f e c t r e l a t i o n s h i p s . As a co-worker noted, "you spend the whole day hearing about the t r i p s other women have l a i d on them and t e l l i n g them they don't have to put up with that garbage. So when you go home you are super-sensitive to anything your husband says that could seem out of l i n e . " As previously noted, involvement i n VOW or a women's l i b e r a t i o n group also tended to disrupt previously problematic r e l a t i o n s h i p s . MacPherson and Sears saw two f a c t o r s as relevant: Quite a few marriages disintegrated, but whether from VOW a c t i v i t y i t s e l f or from pressures that were thrown into sharper focus by VOW work i s of course impossible to say. (op c i t , 88) As Stephenson noted, women who became involved i n women's l i b e r a t i o n come to demand equality and t h e i r own independence. (Stephenson, op c i t , 162) Where those q u a l i t i e s were present i n t h e i r primary r e l a t i o n s h i p s , the r e l a t i o n s h i p s were not seen as problematic, and no changes i n them were required, although changes i n attitudes to marriage d i d occur ( i b i d , I69) . Where equality and autonomy d i d not e x i s t within a r e l a t i o n s h i p , changes had to be made; i n many cases t h i s involved separation, and the feminist ideology was used as a way of describing and understanding what had gone i n previous r e l a t i o n s h i p s , i n ways that place them i n the company of other women. This again means that t h e i r previous d i f f i c u l t i e s can be at l e a s t p a r t i a l l y e xternalized and that the sense of personal f a i l u r e and r e s u l t a n t g u i l t f e e l i n g s can be ameliorated. ( i b i d , 173) A s i m i l a r process seems to have occurred, not only f o r s t a f f who have sep-arated while working at the house, but f o r those of us who separated p r i o r to employment and went through a divorce while working. Our r e a l i t y was v e r i f i e d , our subjective i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of our problematic s i t u a t i o n s confirmed by exchanging experiences with other s t a f f and with residents undergoing s i m i l a r c r i s e s . I t i s noteworthy i n t h i s regard that t r a n s i t i o n house workers must have eq u a l i t y and independence i n t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s , not only because i t i s demanded by an ideology they espouse but because i t i s demanded by the job i t s e l f . Because i t i s s h i f t work, done on a r o t a t i n g schedule, i t cannot be co-incided with f u l l - t i m e household management and t o t a l r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r c h i l d care. For t h i s reason, s t a f f single mothers tend to l i v e communally. The r e s t of us l i v e alone, or have h e l p f u l partners and/or older c h i l d r e n who p a r t i c i p a t e equally i n household maintenance. In e f f e c t , then, performance of the job demands that t r a d i t i o n a l marriages, i n which the wife/mother takes complete resp-o n s i b i l i t y f o r a l l cooking, cleaning, and c h i l d care be renegotiated or 48 d i s s o l v e d . New r e l a t i o n s h i p s , begun w i t h an understanding of the nature of the job, must in c l u d e agreements t h a t allow i t s performance. Of course, the job can be given up i n s t e a d . T h i s , however, does not seem to happen. As w i l l be discussed, job turnover i s very low, and when i t has occurred, i t has never happened because the worker had decided to r e t u r n to f u l l time housekeeping. J u s t as we vary i n m a r i t a l s t a t u s , so we do i n age. S i x are i n t h e i r mid-twenties, f o u r i n t h e i r e a r l y t h i r t i e s , f i v e i n t h e i r l a t e -t h i r t i e s or e a r l y f o r t i e s , and two are over f i f t y . One of the tenets of f e m i n i s t ideology i s th a t age should not be a f a c t o r i n r e l a t i o n s h i p s . . But r e s i d e n t s range from f i f t e e n to s i x t y - f i v e (though the m a j o r i t y are i n t h e i r twenties and t h i r t i e s , s i n c e the house i s mainly o r i e n t e d to s e r v i n g women w i t h c h i l d r e n ) . Some r e s i d e n t s may f i n d i t e a s i e r to r e l a t e t o a woman they see as a contemporary. F or t h i s reason having a broad age range among s t a f f members i s seen t o be p o s i t i v e . Since a l l r e s i d e n t s i n t e r a c t w i t h many s t a f f , i t a l s o provides o p p o r t u n i t i e s f o r women to come to know other women who they might otherwise not have approached because they were considered "too young" o r "too o l d " to have commonalities o f experience. By p r o v i d i n g an opportunity f o r r e s i d e n t s , and f o r s t a f f members, to come to know and share t h e i r f e e l i n g s and understandings w i t h women from a d i v e r s i t y of backgrounds, t r a n s i t i o n house can ammeliorate the c l a s s and age d i s t i n c t i o n s which have t r a d i t i o n a l l y d i v i d e d women and have c o n t r i b u t e d to t h e i r i s o l a t i o n and r e s u l t a n t powerlessness. A note here — u n t i l the present, a l l t r a n s i t i o n house workers have been white, and E n g l i s h speaking, though a few have some knowledge of other languages and one i s completely b i l i n g u a l , speaking French as w e l l as E n g l i s h . T h i s has i n h i b i t e d understanding of n a t i v e Indian and immigrant women. I t was decided a t a s t a f f meeting i n December 1976 t h a t a job opening, to occur at 4-9 the end of January 1977 should be f i l l e d by a native Indian woman, and the next occurring vacancy be f i l l e d by an Asian; these two groups form our la r g e s t non-white population. These were to be the f i r s t implementation of the "Affirmative action" programme of the Vancouver Resources Board. Both women are now oh s t a f f and are proving that t h i s p o l i c y does improve s t a f f -resident communication. C. THE WORK OF A "TRANSITION HOUSE WORKER" When we were to be taken over by the VRB, we were asked f o r a job de s c r i p t i o n . I wrote the following: T r a n s i t i o n House workers f a c i l i t a t e the reorganization and/or r e h a b i l i t a t i o n of f a m i l i e s undergoing d i f f i c u l t i e s by providing s h e l t e r and support f o r mothers i n c r i t i c a l s i t u a t i o n s . From intake procedures to follow up, the s t a f f works c o l l e c t i v e l y to make women aware of l i f e - o p t i o n s open to them and to put them i n touch with resources which can help them implement goals. The job requires an a b i l i t y to empathise with woman i n t r a n s i t i o n , an aptitude f o r dealing with c h i l d r e n and a knowledge of community resources. Since s t a f f frequently ac-company women to family court or welfare o f f i c e s , a l a y knowledge of family law and welfare regulations i s most u s e f u l . In addition, s t a f f are responsible f o r the function-ing of the house i t s e l f ; management of funds a l l o t e d f o r food and maintenance; a l l o c a t i o n and supervision of chores and performance of many household tasks; menu-planning and supervision of meal preparation. A t r a n s i t i o n house worker i s neither s o c i a l work a s s i s t a n t , counsellor, intake worker paralegal, f i n a n c i a l aid, child-care worker, n u t r i t i o n i s t , or home manager, but requires some of the s k i l l s of a l l these, as well as the judgement to know which s k i l l s are necessary i n the given s i t u a t i o n . Last year, we were asked to keep a record of a " t y p i c a l s h i f t " f o r possibly job evaluation by the VRB. Val MacDermot d i d no. Arrive at 8:30 with co-worker. Hear sto r y of Graveyard s h i f t worker, who was awakened at 2:30 by a f r a n t i c woman with a c h i l d , at the door. I t was an ex-resident a r r i v i n g unannounced. There was no room. The woman was incoherent -apparently drugged. Worker phoned emergency services who arranged "transportation and accommodation. When the t a x i arrived, the woman had turned on the worker. An hour l a t e r , a c a l l came from the boyfriend of the woman, who made a l l kinds of obscene remarks. I took a four-year-old to playschool, as her mother was s t i l l weak from a beating. 50 Found a terrible mess in the kitchen as a l l the residents seem to be demoralized to such an extent they are not able to do much. With co-worker, I try and make some order — dishes, floors, counters get cleaned. The phone rang at least thirty times during the day. Once i t was a woman wanting to know i f we had room for herself and daughter, but she couldn't come t i l l Saturday. We don't take reservations; told her to phone back. A doctor phoned, re a woman needing to get away from her husband, no children so only a forty-eight hour stay, but we squeezed her i n . A staff member phoned; she has the f l u , needs on-call person to cover her next s h i f t . Victoria transition house called, returning our c a l l about an ex-resident who might be in Victoria. We had heard about a job she might want. Another staff member phoned with a couple of leads on housing for a resident whose time is up tomorrow. Father of a resident phoned. Daughter had to be wakened and helped to the phone, as she has f l u . VRB co-ordinator called, returning our c a l l . We discuss remodelling of kitchen to incorporate regulations given us by health inspector, also check on carpets, to be ordered — this as a result of yesterday's staff meeting. A church social service called about a woman and three children. Then I talked to the woman herself, decided she could come as one resident is leaving today. Explained a l i t t l e about our operation. She w i l l be arriving this evening. I noted a l l these calls in the log. Tried to c a l l resource board about a resident who has been away for two days, as after this time she should be out but the room is f u l l of her possessions. No reply from social worker, but the resident returned in the afternoon. I had been worried, thinking something might have happened to her and her two children. Check with co-worker on groceries needed. She does big shopping. I help unload cart, carry up stuff to kitchen and put i t away. I check on menu and meat supply for the next week. Then I talked to resident, encouraging her about her sick child, (bad ear infection which makes her very clinging) The mother, an older single parent is having d i f f i c u l t y accepting her changed status, needs lots of talking and support. I talk to another resident who is finding i t d i f f i c u l t to have to admit that she has ho job, no housing, and must accept welfare for present. 51 A t h i r d r e s i d e n t needs l o t s of t a l k i n g out about the beating she has r e c e i v e d . I assured her t h a t w i t h r e s t r a i n i n g order he cannot come near her w i t h p o l i c e responding. F e e l r a t h e r l e s s sure myself; so many times the p o l i c e refuse to come. I t e l l her to phone her f a m i l y court worker or us i f p o l i c e r e f u s e . Took out the garbage to the b i g b i n i n the l a n e . Lots of s t a i r s i n t h i s p l a c e ! D o o r b e l l r i n g s . Father to p i c k up daughter. I t a l k e d to him wh i l e she gets ready. Phone r i n g s again! I t ' s a woman wanting the name of a good woman lawyer to he l p her win custody of her c h i l d . Husband has h i r e d one of best lawyers and she can't a f f o r d one. Give her names of s e v e r a l l e g a l a i d s e r v i c e s . Take c a r up t o be s e r v i c e d . Walk hack the f o u r b l o c k s . Resident who was beaten needs h e l p to put chain l o c k s on door so she and c h i l d r e n can go home. Dri v e her 30 b l o c k s t o her home t a k i n g along screw d r i v e r . Have t r o u b l e g e t t i n g screws i n door, so borrow hammer, n a i l from neighbour. I am pleased w i t h end r e s u l t . Now I'm a carpenter! Get back a f t e r p i c k i n g up c h i l d a t day care. Remember s e v e r a l t h i n g s I f o r g o t to put i n l o g . Discuss w i t h afternoon s h i f t day's events. Leave about h a l f - h o u r l a t e . F i n d I am very t i r e d , as i s my co-worker. Wonder how one would describe t h i s j o b . There i s j u s t not another one l i k e i t . You need to know so much and be able t o do so much and have to l e a r n new s t u f f a l l the time! I cannot improve on what V a l has described here. The tasks undertaken by s t a f f are so multitudinous and d i v e r s i f i e d t h a t "job c l a s s i f i c a t i o n " i s impossible. We have le a r n e d to be good p u b l i c speakers, and some of us serve on community boards and committees. We have acquired p a r a l e g a l s k i l l s ; advocacy forms a l a r g e p a r t of the job — a t a l l y kept f o r a few months (Aug. - Oct. 1975) shows t h a t s t a f f acted as advocates f o r r e s i d e n t s an average of 30 times a month, or once a day. We f e e l t h a t t h i s i s an important p a r t of our work. Our support and the inf o r m a t i o n we provide f a c i l i t a t e s r e s i d e n t s ' d e a l i n g s w i t h c o u r t s , lawyers, and we l f a r e workers, t o the advantage of a l l concerned — p a r t i c u l a r l y r e s i d e n t s who may not understand procedures and may the r e f o r e not r e c e i v e a l l b e n e f i t s to which they are e n t i t l e d . I t a l s o pro-vides an opportunity f o r women to see other women, not very d i f f e r e n t from themselves, d e a l i n g competently and knowledgeably w i t h i n s t i t u t i o n s t h a t may 52 seem f r i g h t e n i n g , mysterious and powerful, ( f o r f u r t h e r discussion along these l i n e s , see chapter on "Process") In other ways, our work can he seen as t r a d i t i o n a l "women's work", c a r r i e d out at a paraprofessional l e v e l . Women have always managed large households, supported each other i n times of s t r e s s , and dealt with c r i s e s . In a constant and concentrated form, the s i t u a t i o n s that T r a n s i t i o n House workers deal with are, to a large extent, amplified versions of s i t u a t i o n s which women have always dealt with. And perhaps our most important task of a l l — active l i s t e n i n g — being "prepared to s i t and t a l k f o r months at a time with very n o n - s e l f - s u f f i c i e n t women" (Stephenson; see f u l l quote on page 15 herein) — something women have always done f o r each other, and f o r men and chi l d r e n as w e l l . Perhaps the major diffe r e n c e i s that, i n the t r a n s i t i o n house context, i t i s the women that have p r i o r i t y to be l i s t e n e d to. Though the d a i l y cleaning and cooking are performed by residents, s t a f f also do some cleaning, and often take over cooking aw we l l — p a r t i c u l a r l y when a resident, scheduled to cook, has moved out. On other occasions, as MacDermot noted, r e s i d e n t s ' morale i s low. and s t a f f must take over. Major cleaning and maintenance tasks not r e q u i r i n g outside professional help are a l l performed by s t a f f . This i s important, not only because these things must be done, but because i t i s necessary f o r residents to i d e n t i f y with us, to see us doing things that they recognize as within t h e i r own competence. We f e e l t h i s may make i t e a s i e r f o r them to l e a r n to cope with unfamiliar things. I f we are ordinary women, as they, and we have acquired knowledge which helps us to cope with a l i e n bureaucracies, perhaps they w i l l f e e l that i t i s possible f o r them to acquire those kinds of s k i l l s as w e l l . Underlying a l l our work i s the philosophy of the house; s t a r t from where the women are, and do not give advice; point out options and help them explore them. In the v a r i e t y of our l i v e s , and i n the o v e r a l l number 53 of s k i l l s acquired by the collective staff - always far greater than those of any one member of that whole - we demonstrate to residents who wish to make themselves aware of these things, many ways of being female and human that go beyond their traditional concept of "female role". D. STAFF ORGANIZATION AND RELATIONSHIPS The staff operates as a collective. Staff on duty make a l l decisions necessary, each team of co-workers consulting together on decisions. Any problems that seem to necessitate collective discussion are brought up at bi-weekly staff meetings. A supervisor appointed by the Vancouver Resources Board attends staff meetings for one hour; the rest of the meeting staff are free to discuss internal problems affecting staff, residents, and the collective, and to talk over union business. A l l staff are considered to be equal members of the collective. To increase equality, a l l ten permanent staff members are paid the same wage, and a l l now work a similar three shifts on, three days off. Seven other women work "on c a l l " , and must be available to work for regular staff who are sick, on holidays, or taking compensating time off for working on statutory holidays. A l l of us, including the on-call workers, are paid at a rate com-parable to a VRB "child care worker". Shifts are rotated, so that each worker eventually works with everyone else. Day shift comes on at 8:30 a.m., after-noon takes over at 4:30, and the graveyard shift runs from 12:30 midnight to 8:30 a.m. Two workers share tasks on day and afternoon shifts; graveyard staff work alone. As has been stated above, i t is an important part of the transition house experience for residents to see women performing so many varied tasks, and doing them a l l with a degree of competence. It is also important 54 f o r t h e s t a f f t o s e e e a c h o t h e r , a n d t o s e e t h e m s e l v e s , c a p a b l y r u n n i n g a l a r g e a n d c o m p l e x o r g a n i z a t i o n i n w h i c h t h e m a j o r i t y o f t h e i n h a b i t a n t s a r e u n d e r g o i n g s o m e d e g r e e o f t r a u m a . A s n o t e d p r e v i o u s l y , i n v o l v e m e n t i n w o m e n ' s l i b e r a t i o n o r w o m e n ' s r i g h t s g r o u p s i n c r e a s e d t h e s e l f - c o n f i d e n c e o f p a r t i c i p a n t s , a m p l i f i e d t h e i r o p i n i o n o f t h e c o m p e t e n c e o f w o m e n , a n d e x t e n d e d t h e i r f r i e n d s h i p n e t w o r k . T h i s i s e q u a l l y t r u e o f t r a n s i t i o n h o u s e w o r k . T h o u g h t h e r e h a v e b e e n d i s s e n s i o n s w i t h i n t h e c o l l e c t i v e , t h e s e h a v e g e n e r a l l y b e e n r e s o l v e d . W h e n n e c e s s a r y , a t h i r d s t a f f - m e m b e r h a s b e e n a p p o i n t e d b y t h e c o l l e c t i v e t o a r b i t r a t e t h e d i s p u t e . M o s t o f t h e s t a f f h a v e f o r m e d v e r y s t r o n g f r i e n d s h i p s w i t h i n t h e c o l l e c t i v e , a n d r e g a r d t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s w i t h s t a f f m e m b e r s a s b e i n g v e r y i m p o r t a n t i n t h e i r l i v e s . O n e c o - w o r k e r r e n t e d a r o o m i n m y h o m e f o r - t w o y e a r s ; s h e i s c o n s i d e r e d , a n d r e g a r d s h e r s e l f , a s a " s i s t e r " t o o u r f a m i l y . A n o t h e r c o - w o r k e r s p e n t C h r i s t m a s e v e a n d C h r i s t m a s m o r n i n g w i t h m y h u s b a n d a n d m e . Y e t a n o t h e r , w i t h h e r h u s b a n d a n d c h i l d r e n , j o i n e d o u r f a m i l y t o c e l e b r a t e t h e n e w y e a r . O t h e r s t a f f a l s o s p e n d a g r e a t d e a l o f t h e i r n o n - w o r k i n g t i m e t o g e t h e r , e i t h e r s o c i a l i z i n g , w o r k i n g o n u n i o n b u s i n e s s , o r r e p r e s e n t i n g t h e h o u s e a t m e e t i n g s a n d c o n f e r e n c e s , o r a t t e n d i n g t h e f u n c t i o n s o f w o m e n ' s g r o u p s . F o r a l l o f u s , T r a n s i t i o n H o u s e i s a n i m p o r t a n t f o c u s o f o u r l i v e s ; o u r c o m m i t m e n t t o i t e x t e n d s b e y o n d w o r k i n g h o u r s . E v e n w h e n w e a r e a w a y f r o m t h e h o u s e , w e m a y d r o p i n o r p h o n e , t o t e l l o f a n i d e a t h a t m i g h t b e u s e f u l , o r d r o p o f f s o m e t h i n g w e ' v e p r o m i s e d a r e s i d e n t . A g a i n , t h i s c o m m i t m e n t c o u l d p r o v e a b a r r i e r t o m a i n t a i n i n g d e m a n d i n g r e l a t i o n s h i p s ; a s m e n t i o n e d o n p a g e 47 , t r a n s i t i o n h o u s e w o r k c a n n o t b e p e r f o r m e d b y w o m e n c o m m i t t e d t o t r a d i t i o n a l w i f e / m o t h e r r o l e s . B e c a u s e w e b e l i e v e i n w o r k i n g c o l l e c t i v e l y a n d w o r k i n g f o r t h e b e t t e r -m e n t o f w o m e n , w e a r e a l l i n v o l v e d i n a u n i o n d e d i c a t e d t o i m p r o v i n g t h e s i t -u a t i o n o f w o r k i n g w o m e n ( t h e S e r v i c e O f f i c e & R e t a i l W o r k e r s U n i o n o f C a n a d a ) . Since mid-1974, a l l s t a f f have been members of SORWUG. I t has proven to be of great b e n e f i t i n helping us to gain recognition of the importance of our job, and to receive benefits and increased wages which would have been unattainable without union support. I t has also provided another avenue i n which we can work c o l l e c t i v e l y f o r the benefit of each other and, we believe, the b e n e f i t of a l l working women. Though the job i s demanding, s t a f f turnover has been remarkably slow. Of the ten s t a f f o r i g i n a l l y h ired, f i v e are s t i l l at T r a n s i t i o n House more than three years l a t e r . One l e f t almost immediately, f i n d i n g the job unsuitable. Another l e f t three months l a t e r to move to the country; her job became two part-time jobs and I was h i r e d as one of her replacements. Two more job openings occurred i n the f a l l of 1974; another two regular p o s i -tions came av a i l a b l e i n e a r l y 1977, and have been f i l l e d as a f f i r m a t i v e a c t i o n p o s i t i o n s . Such a low turn-over means that despite i t s demands, the job i s extremely rewarding. Though r o t a t i n g s h i f t s may be t i r i n g , they also prevent monotony, as does the va r i e d nature of the tasks to be performed. As Val MacDermot said , "There i s no job quite l i k e i t ! " 56 CHAPTER IV: THE RESIDENTS AND THE TRANSITION PROCESS As seen i n t h e l a s t c h a p t e r , T r a n s i t i o n House I s an i m p o r t a n t f o c u s o f t h e l i v e s o f i t s s t a f f . Y e t s t a f f do have o t h e r f o c i ; t h e y have r e l a t i o n s h i p s o u t s i d e o f t h e ones w i t h r e s i d e n t s and each o t h e r ; t h e y have homes o f t h e i r own. I n t e n s e as s t a f f i n v o l v e m e n t may he, and as d r a i n i n g as t h e i r work o f t e n i s , t h e y have h o u r s and days away f r o m t h e h ouse, i n w h i c h t o r e g a i n t h e i r e n ergy and t o r e l a x . F o r t h e r e s i d e n t s , t h e house i s a t o t a l e n v i r o n m e n t . They have s e v e r e d t h e i r p r e v i o u s p r i m a r y r e l a t i o n s h i p , and o f t e n e s t r a n g e d t h e m s e l v e s f r o m t h e i r f a m i l i e s and f r i e n d s as w e l l . Many have removed t h e m s e l v e s p h y s i c a l l y f r o m t h e i r p r e v i o u s community, h a v i n g f l e d t o V ancouver t o a v o i d b e i n g f o u n d , o r h a v i n g come as i m m i g r a n t s t o V a n c o u v e r w i t h husbands who have n o t p e r m i t t e d them t o have r e l a t i o n s h i p s o u t s i d e t h e i r homes. The house may be s e e n as an a s y l u m i n t h e p o s i t i v e meaning o f t h a t t e r m , "a s e c u r e r e t r e a t ; an i n v i o l a b l e r e f u g e " (The Random House D i c t i o n a r y o f t h e E n g l i s h Language, 1973 ed., p. 93)- I n some ways, i t a l s o has some o f t h e q u a l i t i e s o f t h e asylums d e s c r i b e d by E r v i n g Goffman i n h i s n o w - c l a s s i c work o f t h a t name. W h i l e t h e r e i s n e i t h e r s p a c e n o r need t o a p p l y Goffman's c o m p l e t e a n a l y s i s t o t h e house, i t i s o f i n t e r e s t t o n o t e t h a t , w h i l e l a c k i n g t h e d e - p e r s o n a l i z a t i o n , s u r v e i l l a n c e , and b u r e a u c r a t -i z a t i o n w h i c h a r e t h e most n e g a t i v e a s p e c t s o f " t o t a l i n s t i t u t i o n s " , T r a n s i t i o n House, l i k e Goffman's " t o t a l i n s t i t u t i o n s " , has b a r r i e r s t o t h e o u t s i d e w o r l d ; — t h e l o c k e d d o o r s , and t h e f e a r o f b e i n g s e e n and a t t a c k e d t h a t makes many r e s i d e n t s r e f u s e t o go o u t unaccompanied, o r t o a l l o w t h e i r c h i l d r e n t o p l a y o u t s i d e . As i n an a s y l u m , r e s i d e n t s e a t , work ( a t housework, c h i l d c a r e , and t h e b u s i n e s s o r r e - o r g a n i z i n g t h e i r l i v e s ) w i t h i n t h e c o n f i n e s o f t h e h o u s e. Though r e s i d e n t s who a r e p h y s i c a l l y d i s t a n t f r o m t h e i r s p o u s e s , o r who have l e s s r e a s o n t h a n o t h e r s t o f e a r b e i n g a t t a c k e d , may go out f o r e n t e r t a i n m e n t * most r e s i d e n t s do n o t want t o go o u t a l o n e , f o r t h e y a r e u s e d t o b e i n g w i t h a male p a r t n e r , and t h e i r o n l y new f r i e n d s a r e i n t h e h o u s e. E x c u r s i o n s t o d o c t o r s , 57 lawyers, and courts do remove residents p h y s i c a l l y from the house, hut are r e a l l y only a continuation of the work being done there, and not a r e s p i t e . There are no r e s t r i c t i o n s on residents leaving the house, other than that they should t r y to get i n by 1 a.m., and that they should make provision f o r care of t h e i r c h i l d r e n . The doors are locked, not to keep residents In, but to keep unwanted and dangerous others out. The " t o t a l environment" i s a secure one. I t provides as completely as i s possible, f o r the p h y s i c a l and emotional needs of the woman and her c h i l d -ly ren, during t h e i r month of residency. Women come i n as victims, dependent and needing ph y s i c a l and f i n a n c i a l support. But the support i s only f o r that month; within that time, they must l e a r n to provide f o r t h e i r own needs, and those of t h e i r c h i l d r e n . The house i s a place f o r " t r a n s i t i o n " , and not a permanent asylum. This chapter w i l l examine how the t r a n s i t i o n house envir-onment, and the i n t e r a c t i o n s which take place there, f a c i l i t a t e that t r a n s i t i o n . l ) Women with c h i l d r e n are permitted to stay up to one month, and about h a l f of those e l i g i b l e do take advantage of the complete time a l l o t e d . Occasionally, extensions are granted: — f o r example, i n a case where a woman cannot move into her new home u n t i l a date a few days past her " l i m i t " . Women without c h i l d r e n are l i m i t e d to a 48 hour stay, i n order to keep as much room as possible a v a i l a b l e to women with c h i l d r e n , who are seen as having the greatest need, and to avoid having the house used as a h o s t e l . In cases of battered women with r e a l need f o r support and advocacy, exceptions to the "48 hour r u l e " are also made. 5 8 As Maren Lockwood Carden and Marylee Stephenson have noted and as previously discussed, women who become involved i n feminism undergo a pro-cess of reconceptualization. Carden describes the process i n these terms: A woman questions, rethinks, and r e v i s e s her o l d conception of womanhood as t h i s manifests i t s e l f i n innumerable parts of her l i f e . (Carden, 1 9 7 3 , 33) Putting her observations into the t h e o r e t i c a l framework of symbolic i n t e r a c t i o n , Stephenson saw the process as one of "role-change" and noted that "changes must be consciously perceived as necessary or desirable f o r anything to happen." (Stephenson, 1 9 7 3 , 2 5 2 ) The women who were her sub-j e c t s had already made at l e a s t a tentative decision to make changes i n t h e i r l i v e s , based on perceived discomfort with s o c i e t a l r o l e s and expectations; they had joined a Women's L i b e r a t i o n Movement group to a f f i r m t h e i r new perceptions, and had s a t i s f a c t o r i l y completed the r e - i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of those r o l e s with the support received i n the group. Her study "showed the r o l e of ideology and of the i n t e r a c t i n g s o c i a l context...in i n f l u e n c i n g the nature and degree of changes undertaken and maintained" (Stephenson, 2 5 8 ) . For T r a n s i t i o n House residents, the r o l e of ideology and i n t e r a c t i n g s o c i a l context i s equally important i n the reconceptualization process, but the process i t s e l f i s much more complicated and more extensive — so much so that i t could be considered a reordering of r e a l i t y . Such an ex-treme change i n t h e i r s o c i a l context and t h e i r external i d e n t i t y has taken place that extreme changes i n t h e i r i n t e r n a l i d e n t i t y (self-concept), and i n t h e i r modes of behaviour are required to achieve congruency with t h e i r new context and r o l e s . P r i o r to residency, they have been housewives, a t t a i n i n g t h e i r primary i d e n t i t y through a f f i l i a t i o n with t h e i r husband. * References i n t h i s s ection pertain to Stephenson's study of "Housewives i n Women's L i b e r a t i o n " , published independent of her thesis and at an e a r l i e r date. 59 When they leave T r a n s i t i o n House, they must assume the r o l e of a si n g l e parent, and head of a new household. Unlike Stephenson's subjects, they are not seeking changes within an e x i s t i n g marriage. Because of extreme and untenable s i t u a t i o n s , they have made a decision to end t h e i r marriage. They are being forced by t h e i r circumstances, not by t h e i r own new per-ceptions, to assume r o l e s very d i f f e r e n t from t h e i r previous ones, r e q u i r i n g behaviours which are unlike those they have heretofore accepted and enacted. Both Stephenson's and Garden's subjects were well-educated white women of middle-class o r i g i n s , members of the group of women who " f e e l most acutely the c o n f l i c t between the s o c i a l expectations associated with t h e i r t r a d i t i o n a l r o l e s and North American d e f i n i t i o n s of success". (Garden, 1974, 30) Like Hacker's "marginal women" (Hacker, op c i t , 7 4 5 ) , they are c o n f l i c t e d about the appropriateness of behaviours considered "feminine". Like many of the women who worked to e s t a b l i s h T r a n s i t i o n House, and some of the women who s t a f f i t , they became involved with feminism i n an e f f o r t to resolve the contradictions that c o n f l i c t e d them. The subjects of Stephenson's f i r s t study, l i k e T r a n s i t i o n House residents, were housewives. Garden's, l i k e s t a f f members, var i e d i n marital status. But a l l were r e b e l l i n g against t r a d i t i o n a l "female" r o l e s , and a c t i v e l y seeking to make changes i n t h e i r l i v e s . T r a n s i t i o n House residents are r a r e l y middle-class, though some have been a f f i l i a t e d with middle-class males — a reminder of the t r u t h behind E i c h l e r ' s work on "Women as Personal Dependents" ( E i c h l e r , 1973) , that many "middle-class" women are only a husband away from poverty or welfare. Most residents are not well-educated. Some have not graduated from high school (exact numbers here are d i f f i c u l t to obtain; i t i s not a question asked d i r e c t l y of residents, but many t a l k to us about the handicap of poor edu-ca t i o n ) . They ' generally lack t r a i n i n g that would q u a l i f y them f o r a w e l l -paying job. I f they do have t r a i n i n g , t h e i r s k i l l s are rusty and t h e i r experience outdated. They may have o r i g i n a l l y entered marriage because i t 6o seemed to present an a t t r a c t i v e a l t e r n a t i v e to the low-paying jobs which were a l l they were q u a l i f i e d f o r . They have been "career housewives". Their decisions to leave t h e i r marriages were not made because they found marriage to c o n f l i c t with personal ambitions, sought greater s e l f - f u l f i l l m e n t , or believed marriage oppressive to women. They are not seeking to change society, nor even sex r o l e s . T heir decisions were made f o r more immediate and intimate reasons. They were seeking to resolve problems which they regarded as personal and i n d i v i d u a l . T heir husbands drink, beat them, spend the food money on booze or muscle cars, run around with other women. Their disillusionment i s with themselves, t h e i r husbands, and t h e i r own marriages, not with the "rightness and necessity of fo l l o w i n g a l l the i m p l i c i t and e x p l i c i t r o l e s concerning t h e i r behavious as housewives." (Stephenson, 1973, 2^ 9) Most women who a r r i v e at T r a n s i t i o n House have no money, no job, and no home. They do have c h i l d r e n who are dependent on them f o r support and care, and t h e i r options are l i m i t e d by that dependency. In addition, a 1 great many have been battered ; almost a l l have been psychologically abused. When physical or mental ba t t e r i n g has occurred, women have usually acquired a degraded self-image. They have come to accept the d e f i n i t i o n of important 2 "others" that they are "no-good", incompetent, poor wives and lousy mothers. They have been s o c i a l i z e d to believe that marriage and motherhood are the 1) We do not ask women whether they have been beaten, but i n many cases i t i s obvious from'- phy s i c a l evidence or from reports from other agencies that t h i s i s so. About one-half of residents make some reference to violence under "reasons f o r coming" on r e g i s t r a t i o n cards, and even more t e l l us about such abuse when we have gained t h e i r confidence. Because women tend to believe that they are somehow to blame f o r such abuse, they are not always w i l l i n g to admit that i t has taken place. I would surmise that at l e a s t 60% of residents have been battered. 2) "Others" would generally r e f e r to husbands, but may also include other family members and communities, e s p e c i a l l y i n the case of women from ethnic groups, where being defined as a "bad wife" means ostracism from the community — an extremely hard s i t u a t i o n f o r a woman whose knowledge of E n g l i s h i s l i m i t e d . 61 proper r o l e f o r women, and that success i n these domains i s equivalent to success as a female person. Since they have f a i l e d to have successful mar-riages, they believe they have f a i l e d as women. Because they have accepted s o c i e t a l norms, residents do not see t h e i r problems as endemic to a s e x i s t , male-dominated and h i e r a r c h i c a l society, but as i n d i v i d u a l problems f o r which they as i n d i v i d u a l s are responsible. As Smith implies i n her discussion of "Women and Psychiatry", agents of s o c i a l c o n t r o l — doctors and p s y c h i a t r i s t s among them — encourage such " a t t r i b u t i n g problems of the i n d i v i d u a l ' s r e l a t i o n to her s i t u a t i o n to that i n d i v i d u a l as her problem" (Smith, 1975b,7). Smith's argument seems streng-thened by the f a c t that a great many of the women who enter the house are taking t r a n q u i l i z e r s obtained on p r e s c r i p t i o n . Such chemical intervention seems l i k e l y to contribute to women's b e l i e f that they are responsible f o r t h e i r problems, that the problem i s "within them" and not ext e r n a l l y caused. I t encourages a woman to believe that she must adapt to her s i t u a t i o n , and that i f she i s unhappy i n I t , i t i s somehow her f a u l t . By t h i s implication, and by reducing the woman's capacity to respond to her environment, i t also makes i t more d i f f i c u l t f o r her to decide to leave an untenable s i t u a t i o n . Dixon's remarks are pertinent here: ...The greatest obstacle f a c i n g those who would organize women remains women's b e l i e f i n t h e i r own i n f e r i o r i t y . Just as a l l subject populations are c o n t r o l l e d by t h e i r acceptance of the rightness of t h e i r own status, so women remain subject because they believe i n the rightness of t h e i r own oppression. This dilemma i s not a f o r t u i t o u s one, f o r the en t i r e s o c i e t y i s geared to s o c i a l i z e women to believe i n and adopt, as immutable necessity, t h e i r t r a d i t i o n a l and i n f e r i o r r o l e . (Dixon, 1969 , 169) Perhaps i t i s because women are so s o c i a l i z e d to accept the rightness of t h e i r t r a d i t i o n a l r o l e that the l o s s of that r o l e i s so traumatic f o r them. M a r i t a l breakdown i s traumatic f o r both sexes, and both men and women may experience a great deal of g r i e f at the loss of the marital r e l a t i o n s h i p . But separation and divorce seem, i n general, to a f f e c t women even more than men.. Women who are defined, by others and by themselves, as "homemakers" f e e l primary r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r keeping the home together, and greater r e s p o n s i b i l i t y and sense of f a i l u r e when i t comes apart. As David states The a f f i l i a t i v e domain i s one of the few s o c i e t y assigns to women, and one of the few where women are not penalized f o r achievement. However, achievement i n the realm of r e l a t i o n s h i p s can be thwarted by an unco-operative or i n t r a n -sigent other. Nonetheless, the large majority of women p e r s i s t i n holding themselves e n t i r e l y responsible f o r the success or f a i l u r e of r e l a t i o n s h i p s . The awareness that i t takes two to r e l a t e i s simply not taken into account by many women i n deter-i o r a t i n g r e l a t i o n s h i p s . (David, 1975, 178) Coupled with t h i s g u i l t and sense of f a i l u r e , women experience f e e l i n g s of l o s s of status and i d e n t i f i c a t i o n . As E i c h l e r has noted, most women derive status from t h e i r husbands. Even when they do have independent status, i t i s expected to be, and generally i s , lower than t h e i r spouse's, (see E i c h l e r , 1973, 46) While E i c h l e r r e s t r i c t s her discussion to middle-class women, her point i s applicable to working-class women as w e l l . Working cl a s s males tend to have higher status occupations than working-class females; truckers are f a r 1 better paid, and much more secure i n t h e i r jobs, than waitresses are. As previously noted, the f a c t that the only jobs r e a d i l y a v a i l a b l e to working-class women are menial, poorly paid ones may be a f a c t o r i n f l u e n c i n g t h e i r d ecision to marry i n the f i r s t place. But f o r the career housewife who i s no longer a wife, loss of the marital r e l a t i o n s h i p means loss of her occupation as w e l l . Though the housework continues, the status of "housewife" — containing as i t does the i m p l i c i t and e x p l i c i t meanings of "wife" — i s gone. She must e i t h e r take on a second job or become a "welfare mother" 2 with status so low as to be v i r t u a l l y non-existent. 1) This point i s relevant to the discussion on Sorwuc, the Union f o r working women, i n another chapter. 2) This i s one of the main points i n the wages f o r housework issue, discussed elsewhere. Unlike men, who i d e n t i f y themselves, and are i d e n t i f i e d by others, according to occupation outside the home, women are generally i d e n t i f i e d by r e l a t i o n s h i p s . They are John's wife, Debbie's mother, i n t h e i r own eyes and i n the eyes of t h e i r communities. Loss of the marital r e l a t i o n s h i p thus involves l o s s of primary i d e n t i t y , and contributes to loss of sense of s e l f . Such loss of sense of s e l f can be seen as a necessary step i n a "death and r e b i r t h " process which must take place i n order f o r a new i d e n t i t y , new r o l e s , and new behaviours to supplant the o l d . One f i r s t step i n t h i s r e -establishment of i d e n t i t y i s to be known only by her own name, not by her husband's. At T r a n s i t i o n House, there are no "Mrs." Residents, as we l l as s t a f f , are r e f e r r e d to almost always by t h e i r f i r s t name. I have answered the phone, and been requested to locate "Mrs. Smith". Though she has been here two weeks, I don't know who i s wanted. I must look the name up on the resident cards before I can c a l l her to the phone — and when I do, i t i s by her f i r s t name. The "death and r e b i r t h " process cannot be easy, nor pa i n l e s s . As Mary Daly s t a t e s : Becoming who we r e a l l y are requires e x i s t e n t i a l courage to confront the experience of nothingness. A l l human beings are threatened by t h i s non-being. (Daly, 1975, 23) R.D. Laing emphasizes the pain involved i n t h i s . "There i s nothing to be a f r a i d of," he says, "And nothing i s the most f r i g h t e n i n g thing of a l l . " Freedom i s f r i g h t e n i n g , and hard to use w e l l . When women come to T r a n s i t i o n House they are undergoing a c r i s i s , a c r i t i c a l s i t u a t i o n which i s only the beginning of the process through which they may change t h e i r l i v e s . Unlike most women who become involved with feminism, most have had l i t t l e sympathy f o r feminist ideology p r i o r to t h e i r residence. Their exposure to such ideas i s therefore precipitous rather than gradual. They have been forced to make changes by c r i s e s which seem to be ext e r n a l l y caused — even though they may blame themselves f o r t h e i r occurence. 64 They may he beginning to question t r a d i t i o n a l r o l e s and values, but they s t i l l have a great deal of ego involvement with them. They may continue to respond, as they have been conditioned to do, i n c l a s s i c "feminine" ways inappropriate to the new context, (indeed, as w i l l be discussed, the very questioning they do may cause an am p l i f i c a t i o n of conditioned behaviours.) To achieve a reconceptualization of s e l f from " v i c t i m " and " f a i l u r e " to competent, autonomous person within one months seems l i t t l e short of miraculous. Obviously, the process cannot be completed within that short time. But the majority of residents do make remarkable progress. As i n Stephenson's study, the r o l e of feminist ideology and of the intervening s o c i a l context are of great importance i n f a c i l i t a t i n g t h e i r accomplishments. In order to succeed as a sing l e parent, a woman must see h e r s e l f as a competent person, able to modify her environment, capable of making rea-soned decisions, responsible f o r her own l i f e and capable of parenting her ch i l d r e n . In other words, she must see h e r s e l f as capable of acti n g author-i t a t i v e l y enough to be the author of her own ac t s . The t r a n s i t i o n process requires that women go from a traumatized condition i n which f e e l i n g s of inadequacy and self-blame are almost overwhelming, to a state i n which the r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s of a si n g l e parent can s u c c e s s f u l l y be adopted. New behaviours s u i t a b l e to the new r o l e s of "autonomous s i n g l e parent" and con-gruent with the new ideologies must replace o l d modes. Yet, as previously noted, t h i s cannot happen unless such change i s seen as desirable and necessary. The r e a l i t y of t h e i r s i t u a t i o n s may force residents to r e a l i z e that change i s necessary. But they may not see i t as des i r a b l e . Nor may they understand the r a d i c a l nature of the change that i s necessary. As McCallum noted i n her discussion of "working-class" women's magazines (McCallum, 1975) the 'establishment" has a vested i n t e r e s t i n promoting upward mobility i n the working c l a s s . Through the media, working-class women are taught to accept 65 unquestioningly the very things that feminists are re-examining — in c l u d i n g the t r a d i t i o n a l nuclear family, i n which the wife/mother stays home and services the needs of family members. In t h e i r dramatized versions of family c r i s e s , magazines aimed at a working c l a s s female audience present solutions i n v o l v i n g replacement of the inoperative or malfunctioning parts of the nuclear family. A husband dies, proves u n f a i t h f u l or a l c o h o l i c , and i s replaced by another husband. Children are taken away by catastrophe, and another pregnancy occurs. Prob-lems and t h e i r solutions are presented not as things which women can e f f e c t or c o n t r o l , but as occurring outside of them and outside of t h e i r c o n t r o l . Many women who have been residents have followed t h i s kind of pattern. Children are taken into care by the Children's A i d Society, and the woman becomes pregnant again. One man proves unsatisfactory, and the search f o r another begins. But unless o l d passive and dependent modes of behaviour are replaced by more purposeful, assertive and self-determined conduct, patterns are repeated, and untenable s i t u a t i o n s recur. This has been the case with several residents who have returned a f t e r having been out i n the community f o r several months. The t r a n s i t i o n house s e t t i n g f a c i l i t a t e s the process of examination and reconceptualization by providing a s o c i a l context i n which a l t e r n a t i v e ideologies and behaviours are necessary and workable. I t provides a m i l i e u i n which women see other women acti n g a u t h o r i t a t i v e l y , behaving independently i n s i t u a t i o n s which require decision making. As Smith notes: Women have been unable to develop means of expression out of t h e i r own a c t i v i t i e s and experience because they have been deprived of the means to do so. The ideologies a v a i l a b l e to them f o r thinking about t h e i r experience and the world as i t becomes f o r them have been made f o r them, and l a r g e l y from outside. The perspective i m p l i c i t i n these ideologies views l ) See D. Smith, "Women, the Family and Corporate Capitalism", and M. Benston, "The P o l i t i c a l Economy of Women's L i b e r a t i o n " , f o r excel-l e n t discussions of the connection between women's r o l e i n the family and capi t a l i s m . 66 women from outside themselves and i n a subservient r e l a t i o n -ship to the enterprises of men. (Smith, 1975b, 2) Smith's observations underline the advantages of a women-only m i l i e u . In such a s o c i a l context, women can develop such "means of expression". In a mili e u which women govern, there are no men to define women's behaviours. Women can therefore come to define t h e i r own acts, to accept r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r them, and see themselves as capable of act i n g independently. The " r e a l " world of Vancouver, and of Western society, i s a man-made world. "As a world, i t i s occupied, practised, thought and performed by men." Smith, 1975^ , 2) In contrast, T r a n s i t i o n House i s a women's world. There are only three r u l e s i n the house; no men, no booze, no dope. Occas-i o n a l l y , the f i r s t of these i s relaxed, as i s the l e s s e x p l i c i t r u l e that says "no women" i n the men's world. With the permission of s t a f f on s h i f t , men may enter when they can f u l f i l l a necessary purpose and when t h e i r pres-ence i s considered "safe" — much as women are allowed into the man's world as s e c r e t a r i e s , research a s s i s t a n t s , or "cleaning l a d i e s " . The men who enter T r a n s i t i o n House are maintenance men, s o c i a l workers, i n t e r p r e t e r s — but they are always outsiders. Women are i n co n t r o l here. The r o l e of ideology i n t h i s s e t t i n g i s a subtle one. Very r a r e l y i s "Women's L i b e r a t i o n " discussed. In the past, consciousness r a i s i n g groups have been attempted, with a very s k i l l f u l and experienced group leader coming to the house to p a r t i c i p a t e . Movies with "feminist" o r i e n t a t i o n were shown r e g u l a r l y on Sunday nights f o r several months. None of these were enthusias-t i c a l l y received. S t a f f came to the r e a l i z a t i o n that overt feminist ideology and theory were inappropriate i n the T r a n s i t i o n House context. The concerns of the women were immediate and p r a c t i c a l . Though we may r e a l i z e the t r u t h of Robin Morgan's statement, "The personal i s p o l i t i c a l " , i t i s the personal with which residents are concerned during t h e i r stay. P o l i t i c a l awareness 67 may come f o r them at a l a t e r time, when the immediate problems are solved and s u f f i c i e n t l y removed to be analyzed and understood i n a broader context. At t h i s point i n t h e i r l i v e s they need and can respond to the support which i s i n tru t h the essence of sisterhood-and the core of feminism. And the p o l i t i c a l r a m i f i c a t i o n s of such support, may be f a r greater than more overt manifestations of feminist theory. I ' l l t e l l you something more revolutionary than p o l i t i c s , more r a d i c a l than the l e f t . Support. Just that, support. Sounds dotty, doesn't i t ? S i l l y , very a p o l i t i c a l , but i t ' s the biggest change I can think o f . . . g i v i n g another person t o t a l support. Never balking, j u s t hanging i n , b e l i e v i n g i n them while they get i t together. The most you can o f f e r another human being. I t changes things from the very bot-tom. Damn rare thin g these days, a l l t h i s raving t a l k , r h e t o r i c t h i n g or another, but who comes through? ( M i l l e t t , 1974, 186) The f a c t that s t a f f are there to l i s t e n and to help, that they have had s i m i l a r experiences and have survived them and gone on with t h e i r l i v e s , i s evidence enough of the value of "sisterhood" to those who want to be aware of those things. Seeing other women — both s t a f f and other residents — dealing e f f e c t i v e l y with lawyers, family courts, welfare o f f i c i a l s , and so l v i n g the p r a c t i c a l problems of housing and f i n a n c i a l support can e f f e c t a r e a l i z a t i o n that women can act independently and capably. Sharing exper-ience leads to an understanding that t h e i r problems and those of other women can be a t t r i b u t e d to a large degree to the sexism underlying western s o c i e t y . Such r e a l i z a t i o n s can be a.prelude to feminist,understanding. Helping them take place i s a more e f f e c t i v e means of disseminating feminist ideals than r h e t o r i c could ever be. The f a c t that the house i s i n i t s e l f an e f f e c t i v e consciousness r a i s -i n g t o o l . In t h i s man's world, there are few domains which women c o n t r o l . "Boys run. G i r l s t a l k " says the cover of the Grade 1 correspondence course manual issued by the B.C. Department of Educatbn, i n an example of in s i d i o u s propaganda, and a statement about the way the world i s . At T r a n s i t i o n House, 68-females both run t h i n g s , and t a l k , and the t a l k i n g and the running are con-current and intermeshed. The house runs by t a l k ; t a l k i n g i s the major work of the house. S t a f f confer w i t h each other over every d e c i s i o n they must make wh i l e on s h i f t , confer again w i t h t h e i r replacements at each s h i f t change. T a l k between s t a f f and r e s i d e n t s , and between r e s i d e n t and r e s i d e n t works to a l l e v i a t e l o n e l i n e s s and p a i n , t o achieve understanding t h a t the problems each woman has are not i s o l a t e d and i n d i v i d u a l and t h e r e f o r e her f a u l t , but common to many women and t h e r e f o r e not j u s t an i n d i v i d u a l problem but a s o c i a l one ..as w e l l . T a l k serves the c a t a l y t i c purpose i n the house t h a t i t has i n the•women's movement as a whole. And women t a l k . L i k e the members of any repressed group, they are v e r b a l persons, t a l k i n g because they are permitted no other form of expression...But women's t a l k has always been t r i v i a l i z e d . And yet over the past f i v e years, I have experienced a great change i n such t a l k . There i s a new cogency and d i r e c t i o n , a c l a r i t y and r i s i n g consciousness i n the speech of women now. I hear i t i n the conversations of women outside the movement as w e l l as those w i t h i n . And I a t t r i b u t e a good measure of t h i s to the movement's a c t i n g as a c u l t u r a l c a t a l y s t f o r numbers of women, many of whom are s c a r c e l y conscious, even unconscious, of i t s source. ( M i l l e t t , 1971, 60) When women enter T r a n s i t i o n House, they are encouraged to express f e e l i n g s , share experience, t a l k i t out, r e c e i v e what M i l l e t t has c a l l e d "the j o y of being understood, t h a t wonderful euphoria of f i r s t meetings when a woman f i n d s a l l her crazy i r r i t a t i o n s shared by others, her p r i v a t e g r i e v -ances r e v e a l e d as part of the s o c i a l f a b r i c " . ( M i l l e t t , 197^, 18) L i k e A l l e n ' s group, the house o f f e r s women a place where the response w i l l be p o s i t i v e . "Yes, we know". "Yes, we understand." I t i s not so much the words t h a t are s a i d i n response t h a t are important; r a t h e r i t i s the f a c t t h a t someone l i s t e n s and does not ridicule,someone l i s t e n s and acknowledges the v a l i d i t y of another's view of her l i f e . I t i s the beginning of s i s t e r h o o d , the f e e l i n g o f u n i t y w i t h others, of no longer being alone. ( A l l e n , op c i t , 25) Such a s h a r i n g of experience combined w i t h empathetic response from s t a f f and other r e s i d e n t s who have shared s i m i l a r d i s t r e s s decreases f e e l i n g s of personal 69 f a i l u r e , of being somehow "abnormal" and i s o l a t e d . Residency begins with the f i l l i n g out of a r e g i s t r a t i o n form, the most formal i n t e r a c t i o n that ever takes place between s t a f f and residents. The card has blank spaces to be f i l l e d i n with name, l a s t address, number and ages of c h i l d r e n , "reason f o r coming" and "who do you want to know you are here?" ( t h i s l a s t f a c i l i t a t e s screening of phone c a l l s ) . These l a t t e r ques-tions i n e v i t a b l y give r i s e to discussion. They provide an opportunity f o r the new resident to explain her s i t u a t i o n to the s t a f f member on s h i f t — and perhaps help her to come to terms with i t h e r s e l f . Talking about i t makes i t more r e a l . I t also presents an opportunity f o r s t a f f to l e a r n how best to help the resident. While she i s r i d d i n g h e r s e l f of a burden, s t a f f i s gathering data, judging what medical or l e g a l advice the woman should seek, thinking about other community reso-urces she should be put i n contact with and how her housing needs could best be met. Her most immediate con-cerns are dealt with as q u i c k l y as p o s s i b l e . She may have had to leave her c h i l d r e n i n a s i t u a t i o n she considers unsafe; family court i s immediately contacted, an appointment made, the woman accompanied to i t , and an interim custody order obtained. Now p o l i c e p rotection can be obtained, so that she can return to her former home and get her c h i l d r e n without f e a r of f u r t h e r violence. I f an assault charge i s contemplated, she learns that an immediate medical examination i s advisable. I f she has f l e d without clothes, she i s i n v i t e d to help h e r s e l f from the emergency supply or t o l d how to get to the nearby free s tore. A l l her concerns are treated s e r i o u s l y . There i s no coercion or compulsion. S t a f f help her examine and evaluate her s i t u a t i o n , and the options a v a i l a b l e to her. Returning home i s always one of these, and the decision to do t h i s i s respected; the f a c t that she has learned that she has an a l t e r n a t i v e i s often enough to allow her to go home more able to deal with the s i t u a t i o n . Other options she has perhaps not considered are off e r e d f o r her information. Where applicable, s t a f f often discuss t h e i r own experiences, or those of anonymous ex-residents. Suggestions are always made 70 on the l e v e l of "People who have dealt with s i m i l a r problems i n the past have found i t helped to do t h i s " . Since most s t a f f have themselves been through s i m i l a r c r i s e s , they can speak with empathy. The f a c t that they speak as survivors and now appear to be knowledgeable and capable women who are deal-ing with the world e f f e c t i v e l y may help women to see t h e i r own problems as l e s s insurmountable — a pre r e q u i s i t e to s o l v i n g them. L i s t e n i n g i s as im-portant as t a l k i n g . Because women can f e e l that they are l i s t e n e d to, and r e a l l y heard, t h e i r t r u s t i n the s t a f f , and i n women, may be increased. The i n t e r a c t i o n of residents i s equally as important as s t a f f - r e s i d e n t i n t e r a c t i o n . S t a f f may have had s i m i l a r experience to those of residents and recovered from them — but residents can share with each other the immediacy of t h e i r common experience. Though "consciousness r a i s i n g " groups have not worked i n the T r a n s i t i o n House s e t t i n g , and though the continuity of involve-ment and s t a b i l i t y of membership which are important q u a l i t i e s of "C-E groups" cannot be present i n a context where the population i s constantly changing, some of the p o s i t i v e r e s u l t s of involvement i n such groups, as d e t a i l e d by Stephenson (1973, 1975) and by A l l e n (1970) do often occur during residency. Perhaps the lack of continuity and s t a b i l i t y over time i s made up f o r by the i n t e n s i t y of residency, both i n terms of percentage of time spent i n involve-ment, and i n degree of involvement. C e r t a i n l y the house, l i k e a good "C-E" group (Allen, 1970, 13) serves as a place where personal problems may be ven-t i l a t e d and t h e i r roots i n the s o c i a l context begun to be understood. And i t i s often to other residents, rather than to s t a f f , that women "open up" — reach out, t a l k about t h e i r f e e l i n g s towards themselves and t h e i r l i v e s ( i b i d , 25)• Such opening up i s a prelude to what A l l e n c a l l s "sharing" — the exchange of experience i n which women "respond with recognition to someone else's account...(and) add from t h e i r own h i s t o r i e s as well, b u i l d -ing a collage of s i m i l a r experiences from a l l women present." ( i b i d , 26) Often such sharing involves many women, s t a f f and residents together. Such a discussion becomes the i d e a l context f o r developing t r u s t , and f o r gaining 71 understanding that the "personal problems" being described are not personal at a l l , but rather have root i n the s o c i a l order. Developing t r u s t i s important. Women may tend i n i t i a l l y to mistrust s t a f f members and co-residents, because they are not used to t r u s t i n g women. Many — p a r t i c u l a r l y those from immigrant groups, who make up perhaps a quarter of the residents, on average — have lacked women f r i e n d s . T h e i r period of residency at T r a n s i t i o n House may be the f i r s t time they have l i v e d with other women, and found opportunity to share t h e i r experience and f r u s t r a t i o n i n an environment where i t i s completely safe to do so. Their previous contacts with women have been l i m i t e d to r e l a t i v e s , often on t h e i r husband's side, and to the wives of t h e i r husband's co-workers and f r i e n d s . Or t h e i r " f r i e n d s " have been neighbours, with a r e l a t i o n s h i p based only on geographical proximity and not on commonality of i n t e r e s t s and sharing of f e e l i n g s . Other women may have been seen only as competitors f o r men, not as persons who should be knowledgeable and au t h o r i t a t i v e , and who can be depended upon. Because they do not f e e l able to cope with the world ade-quately themselves, they may d i s t r u s t the c a p a b i l i t i e s of other women. Again, I quote Smith: The i n c a p a c i t i e s of women as au t h o r i t i e s f o r themselves and f o r each other...has nothing to do with fundamental competencies. They have to do with how women as a clas s are located outside the structures from which men derive authority. In denying women the p o s s i b i l i t y of speaking with authority, women deny i t also to themselves...women do not l i s t e n to women as a u t h o r i t i e s and therefore cannot t r e a t what they themselves say as a u t h o r i t a t i v e . . . (Smith, 1975^, 8) Though other residents understand experience, i t i s s t a f f who know the resources, and have developed knowledge us e f u l f o r advocacy. Because s t a f f appears as knowledgeable and competent, and because residents soon lea r n that the information they are given i s indeed h e l p f u l and correct, t r u s t and respect of other women are encouraged. Seeing s t a f f deal e f f e c t i v e l y with normally i n t i m i d a t i n g people — lawyers, family court "probation o f f i c e r s " , 72 welfare o f f i c i a l s and f i n a n c i a l aide workers, landlords, i n situations where s t a f f accompany residents, makes residents r e a l i z e that women do have the capacity to cope with such situations — and (hopefully) to learn to cope with them themselves. Unless women see other women as authorities, they cannot f e e l authoritative themselves. Unless they can see women as valuable and effective persons whose opinions are v a l i d , they cannot see themselves as valuable and effective themselves. Without these feelings, they w i l l not f e e l capable of ascertaining t h e i r r i g h t s , nor of demanding them. Always, the help that i s given by s t a f f must be made understood as only a prelude to actions that the woman must herself perform. Sta f f are always on guard against doing too much f o r residents. Because residents have been dependent, i t i s understandable that they w i l l tend to become dependent on those who help them. So s t a f f t r y to advise rather than d i r e c t , to t e l l residents how' to accomplish things rather than do things f o r them. To trans-f e r dependency to s t a f f would leave women, at the end of t h e i r short period of residency, as helpless as when they a r r i v e . I t i s hoped that residents w i l l begin to gain s a t i s f a c t i o n from t h e i r own accomplishments, to trus t themselves, and to trus t other women. To t h i s end, they are encouraged to take as much r e s p o n s i b i l i t y as possible from the very beginning of t h e i r residency. Since the house runs co-operatively, i t i s important not only to s t a f f but to other residents that each woman does her share. They must help with housework, and cooking, and are responsible f o r the care of t h e i r own children. Tasks are assigned at residents' meetings held regularly on Sunday nights. Women who do not perform t h e i r duties may be subjected to c r i t i c i s m by t h e i r fellow residents. At each meeting, there i s an opportun-i t y f o r women to mention situations that they consider unfair. Because cooking and cleaning are tradional women's tasks, most women can perform them w e l l , and thus f e e l some sense of accomplishment. But the tasks now involve a r e s p o n s i b i l i t y to a community, not j u s t a family, and t h i s too can help women re-evaluate t h e i r r o l e s . Women have always off e r e d food as a symbol of love and caring to those with whom they shared t h e i r homes; f o r most re s i d e n t s , cooking f o r other women at T r a n s i t i o n House, marks a new experience. I t i s t h e i r f i r s t experience i n nurturing other women. Residents are also encouraged to swap b a b y - s i t t i n g with each other rather than ask s t a f f to tend t h e i r c h i l d r e n — not only to l i g h t e n the work load of the s t a f f , but to encourage f e e l i n g s of co-operation and interdependency, and lessen f e e l i n g s of competition with other women. Dependency, as we l l as other c l a s s i c "female" ways of dealing with the world i s inappropriate i n the t r a n s i t i o n house s e t t i n g s . Competitiveness towards other women i s a n t i t h e t i c a l to the co-operative format of the house — and there i s l i t t l e to be competitive about. Overpassivity and helplessness are only sympathized with f o r a short time. Women who do not act to help themselves are reminded of the one month time l i m i t , at f i r s t gently and subtly, then more pointedly. The f a c t that other women are constantly moving out and being replaced by new a r r i v a l s , with needs more desperate than those of women who have been there f o r some time, i s i n i t s e l f a reminder that t h i s i s indeed a t r a n s i t i o n house, and that another l i f e i s beginning and must be planned f o r . Though s t a f f must do some mediating i n many areas during the period of residency, i t i s on the understanding that i t i s only as guides that t h i s i s done. Residents must l e a r n to face the world without mediators. But over-dependent behaviour, and other behaviour which shows a c l i n g i n g to o l d r o l e s , i s not uncommon. Women frequently ask s t a f f to drive them places e a s i l y ac-ce s s i b l e by bus, or to accompany them to appointments which they can e a s i l y undertake alone. Some spend hours grooming t h e i r h a i r and n a i l s , or walk around i n c u r l e r s a l l day as though awaiting a returning male. They may c r i t i c i z e s t a f f or other residents f o r wearing jeans or "unfeminine" hairdos, 74 showing a d i s i n c l i n a t i o n to i d e n t i f y with " l i b e r a t e d " women. They may buy themselves expensive and superfeminine clothes, despite the f i n a n c i a l 1 d i f f i c u l t i e s they face. They may f i n d themselves f e e l i n g so unable to cope that even such "normal" tasks as cooking and cleaning seem insurmount-able. K r a n t z l e r noticed t h i s "need to f e e l h e l p l e s s " among women undergoing divorce and explained i t as follows: To f e e l otherwise would be to repudiate her b e l i e f that her i d e n t i t y l a y only i n being a wife, to deny the precepts of marriage which hold that women are dependent and h e l p l e s s . . Even normal functions that formed the pattern of her d a i l y l i f e now provide her with the opportunity to prove to h e r s e l f that she cannot be that which she does not want to be — a si n g l e woman. (Krantzler, 1973, 44) Bardwick and Douvan's observations may also be relevant here: People are not simple. Whenever one sees a t o t a l investment or r o l e adoption i n i t s stereotyped, unidimensional form, one suspects a f l i g h t from uncertainty about masculinity or f e m i n i n i t y . During a period of t r a n s i t i o n one can expect to see increasing numbers of women q u e l l i n g anxiety by f l e e i n g into unidimensional, stereotyped fem i n i n i t y . (Bardwick & Douvan, 1971, 237-238) C l a s s i c feminine behaviours can thus be seen as a reaction to the "nothing-ness", the normlessness that Daly described. Because other behaviours have not yet been learned, because they cannot yet conceive of themselves i n the new r o l e s , women may r e t r e a t to ol d , dependent behaviours and even amplify them f o r a while. But they cannot be sustained i n the t r a n s i t i o n house s e t t i n g . In a context where a l l women have problems, s e l f - p i t y soon comes to be seen — l ) I f e e l l e s s negative about t h i s than I once; did, since a conver-s a t i o n I had l a s t spring with a resident, who brought home to me the f a c t that such "indulgences" can be an e f f e c t i v e short term therapy. The s t e r e o t y p i c a l idea that women cheer themselves up by buying a new hat i s b l a t a n t l y s e x i s t , but i t i s true that when our sense of s e l f i s threatened, adorning our bodies can be therapeutic. "I've worked at a free store f o r 4 years," she sa i d , "and a l l my clothes and my kid s ' clothes came from there. This welfare check i s the f i r s t money I've had f o r myself i n a long time. I need to f e e l good about myself r i g h t now — and t h i s new o u t f i t sure helps." 75 by other r e s i d e n t s , s t a f f , and f i n a l l y i t s p e r p e t r a t o r — as counter-produc-t i v e s e l f - i n d u l g e n c e . The same a t t i t u d e s p r e v a i l towards r e s i d e n t s who do not perform t h e i r share of chores, thereby f o r c i n g others t o take more than t h e i r share. And, perhaps more e f f e c t i v e than anything e l s e , there i s the knowledge of a deadline moving ever c l o s e r . Before too l o n g , a "new r e s i d e n t " whose problems are of s p e c i a l concern t o s t a f f and others i n the house, be-comes an " o l d " r e s i d e n t — one w i t h new home already s e l e c t e d , moving date announced, h e l p i n g to i n i t i a t e others i n t o the ways of the house. I f a woman does not f i n d a p l a c e , and shows no i n t e r e s t i n doing so, the s u b t l e pressure becomesmore d i r e c t . "Maybe you can have th a t l i s t of places by tomorrow, Beth, and Sue on days can d r i v e you" becomes "You know you came i n on the t w e n t i e t h of May, and your month w i l l be up next week." The t r a n s -i t i o n process must be accomplished, f o r others are w a i t i n g to s t a r t i t . Aside from the l e g a l problems surrounding questions of s e p a r a t i o n , d i v o r c e , custody and so on, which must be d e a l t w i t h d u r i n g t h e i r r e s i d e n c y , women must a l s o d e a l w i t h the p r a c t i c a l problems i n v o l v e d i n becoming "head of household". The new s i n g l e - p a r e n t f a m i l y must be provided f o r . F o r a few r e s i d e n t s — the more s k i l l e d or f o r t u n a t e ones — t h i s may only mean l o c a t -i n g a job and f i n d i n g daycare. For most, i t means we l f a r e , w i t h perhaps a hope of e d u c a t i o n a l upgrading or job r e t r a i n i n g . Going on w e l f a r e , i f done as a passive r a t h e r than an a c t i v e a c t , can mean t h a t dependency i s merely t r a n s -f e r r e d from husband t o the M i n i s t r y of Human Resources. To be a w e l f a r e r e -c i p i e n t without being degraded r e q u i r e s knowledge and acquired s k i l l s . Mothers w i t h small c h i l d r e n can come to see t h e i r s o c i a l a s s i s t a n c e payments as pay f o r the g r u e l l i n g necessary work of c h i l d care. In h e l p i n g women accept the n e c e s s i t y of ...going on welfare and h e l p i n g them r e t a i n t h e i r p r i d e , other r e s i -dents are i n v a l u a b l e a i d e s . The f a c t t h a t most other r e s i d e n t s are a p p l y i n g f o r w e l f a r e , or are already on i t , takes away much of the stigma. Often there are r e s i d e n t s who have experienced l i v i n g on w e l f a r e , and share the knowledge they have gained. They know which workers are more h e l p f u l than 76 others, how to make sure you get the s p e c i a l needs grant — a necessity when s e t t i n g up a new household — and which other s p e c i a l provisions a woman might he e l i g i b l e f o r . One recent resident, now taking educational upgrading and f i n d i n g text-book l e a r n i n g d i f f i c u l t , was the best welfare advocate I've yet met. When she complained that she couldn't do her school work because she was "dumb", I pointed out her a b i l i t y to deal with welfare o f f i c i a l s ; "anyone who can deal with them as well as you can has got to be pretty smart." "That 1s easy," she r e p l i e d . "I've spent 15 years on welfare; I only spent 8 i n school." Perhaps the most d i f f i c u l t problem f o r many women i s f i n d i n g housing. For many women, i t i s the f i r s t time they have had primary r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r such a choice. They have been used to allowing t h e i r husband's needs to take precedence over t h e i r own, and l e g a l l y bound to make h i s residence t h e i r s . They must e s t a b l i s h c r i t e r i a f o r choice based on an understanding of t h e i r own needs and the r e a l i t y of what i s a v a i l a b l e . For women who have always l i v e d i n a home selected by others, such an examination of t h e i r own tastes and needs i s an enlightening, novel experience. I f the c i t y i s unfamiliar, i t can be a f r i g h t e n i n g one. In Vancouver, with the lowest apartment vacancy rate i n Canada and the highest rents, i t i s often a f r u s t r a t i n g one. Land-lords are able to be s e l e c t i v e i n such a market. They are not anxious to have childr e n , nor people on welfare, nor mothers without men. I f the woman i s non-white, the s i t u a t i o n i s even more d i f f i c u l t . We can only help them balance the advantages of what they see as a "better" neighbourhood over the discom-f o r t of crowding, o f f e r to drive them i f they get several p o s s i b i l i t i e s l i n e d up, r e f e r them to the non-fee r e n t a l service which i s our most frequently-used resource. I f a resident has only one or two small children and i s under 25, we can t r y and help her get into a YWCA group home. Aside from t h i s , there i s l i t t l e at present that we can do. The problem of decent, low-cost housing l ) Through the "Battered Wives" working group of the United Way Task Force on Family Violence, some s t a f f members are now working on a proposal f o r 'second-stage' housing, as recommended at the Family Violence Symposium (see Chapter S i x ) . However, funding f o r such a project i s uncertain. i s one that i s beyond our power at present to a l l e v i a t e . There seems to be l i t t l e hope that i t w i l l be resolved u n t i l p o l i t i c i a n s and developers begin to work f o r the good of the community at large, and not of themselves. Most women end up f i n d i n g something; a basement s u i t e , an outrageously overpriced duplex where the rent eats into the food money, a f l a t above a store. No matter how imperfect the housing she f i n d s may be, the s e l e c t i o n of a new home i s always a reason f o r celebration; i t i s an important mile-stone on the road to s e l f - s u f f i c i e n c y . The problems of obtaining f u r n i t u r e , moving, and — most d i f f i c u l t of a l l — s e t t l i n g i n on her own have s t i l l to be faced, but the t r a n s i t i o n seems w e l l underway. Becoming a s i n g l e parent also requires r e v i s i n g methods of parenting. Women must le a r n to look a f t e r and to d i s c i p l i n e t h e i r c h i l d r e n without r e -course to another authority. They can no longer warn "wait u n t i l your fa t h e r gets home." This area i s the one in^which most i n t e r - r e s i d e n t d i f f i c u l t i e s seem to occur. Perhaps because they have l o s t one source of primary ident-i t y , the mothers often tend to be overpossessive of t h e i r c h i l d r e n . I f they are no longer "Joe's wife", they are s t i l l "Johnny's mother" and they brook no interference i n that domain. In a house where the dozen ch i l d r e n of a half-dozen mothers re s i d e , f e e l i n g s l i k e t h i s are bound to create tensions. I f necessary, s t a f f t r y to mediate. But very often, the kids resolve the tension themselves, by becoming involved i n the k i d culture which i s always an undercurrent at the house. Sometimes the ch i l d r e n are sad and traumatized when they f i r s t come i n ; i f t h i s i s the case, i t generally does not l a s t long. They have kids to play with, the f i g h t i n g and screaming which disturbed t h e i r 1) S o c i a l assistance i s divided into " s h e l t e r " and "support". The s h e l t e r allowance i s r i d i c u l o u s l y low - $80 f o r a sing l e person, $120 f o r a mother and one c h i l d , plus ten d o l l a r s f o r each a d d i t i o n a l family member. However s o c i a l assistance w i l l give overage f o r 3 / 4 of the dif f e r e n c e between the she l t e r allowance and the actu a l rent paid. The other l / 4 must be paid by the r e c i p i e n t , out of the "support" portion. 78 lives before are over, and they are ready to make new friends and go on with their lives. It usually takes them much less time to reach this stage than i t does their mothers. Their example can help their mothers realize the value of formulating new and independent lives. l) Statements here may underestimate the effect of violence perpetrated on their mothers, and of the change in their family structure, on the children of residents. Some children do indeed manifest anxiety and display symptoms of disturbances. However, most do seem relieved to be in a less tense atmosphere. Since my study is concerned primarily with the^effects of the transition house environment on adult female residents, the problems of some children are beyond the scope of the present work. 79 CHAPTER V: SOME CASE HISTORIES The cases described in this short chapter were not selected because they are exceptional. Though both Anna and Lucille had qualities and experiences which make them unique individuals, their stories are presented here because they are to some extent representative of experiences often recounted to staff by residents. Lucille's husband's alcoholism is one common problem. Alcohol abuse is often related to marital violence — though we have come to under-stand i t as not a cause, but as an excuse, for wife battering. Men who have been taught to react to frustration with violence may also have learned to "pick on someone your own size"...If they have acquired inhibitions about hitting women, liquor helps dissolve those inhibitions. We hear frequently of fights which begin as verbal, during which the husband leaves, coming back drunk several hours later. Wife beating then occurs. In such a case, alco-hol has not caused the beating; i t has only given a man a "reason" to say, "I didn't know what I was doing." The "four stages" which I describe Lucille as going through seem also to be common. Such an analysis is a simplified way of describing the trans-ition process discussed in Chapter four. It is presented in "step" form here, and applied to an individual case, to provide insight from a slightly different angle. Lucille's elusiveness after leaving Transition House is also not atypical. When we held a benefit recently, we were only able to contact approximately ten percent of the ex-residents we tried to phone. Of course, many of these might have left town. Many others have a need to evade ex-husbands, and do not want to leave forwarding addresses and phone numbers behind them. Another factor is that ex-residents are almost universally renters, at the mercy of landlords who may find single parent families unacceptable and ask them to 80 leave when a ""better" tenant comes along. D e s i r e to' f o r g e t the past, and e v e r y t h i n g connected w i t h the m a r i t a l breakdown, may a l s o c o n t r i b u t e to f a i l -ure to maintain c o n t a c t . And, s i n c e we do l i t t l e f o llow-up and leave i t t o e x - r e s i d e n t s to phone the house, or to drop i n , and to l e t us know t h e i r where-abouts — so might a s u c c e s s f u l adjustment to a new l i f e , so f u l l t h a t main-t a i n i n g contact w i t h those who helped you through a c r i s i s no longer seems necessary. Anna's case i s a l s o q u i t e t y p i c a l . For reasons I don't yet understand, Ea s t e r n European women — or women married to Eastern European men, p a r t i c -u l a r l y Yugoslavians — are h e a v i l y overrepresented i n the r e s i d e n t p o p u l a t i o n . Her case demonstrates the c o n f l i c t between o l d r o l e s and new ideas, common to a l l women, but more acute f o r those coming from c u l t u r e s where women's t r a d -i t i o n a l r o l e i s even more r e s t r i c t i v e than i t i s i n our own. Anna's experience a l s o i l l u s t r a t e s the a t t i t u d e s of too many members of the medical p r o f e s s i o n — as w e l l as some community mental h e a l t h workers and p s y c h i a t r i c s o c i a l workers -t o women whose d i s t r e s s i s s i t u a t i o n a l r a t h e r than p a t h o l o g i c a l . Her case demonstrates only too w e l l Smith's p o i n t t h a t : P s y c h i a t r y deals w i t h the d i s j u n c t i o n s between how women are supposed to f e e l and respond i n t h e i r s i t u a t i o n s and how women a c t u a l l y do f e e l and respond and what t h e i r s i t u a t i o n i s i n t h e i r e x perience...Psychiatry t e l l s women as w e l l as men to t r e a t those f e e l i n g s and behaviours t h a t don't make sense i n terms of the r o l e as p a t h o l o g i c a l . (Smith, 1975b, 5) F i n a l l y , Anna's s t o r y p o i n t s up the need f o r more t r a n s i t i o n houses, so t h a t s t a f f are not f o r c e d t o t e l l women who o b v i o u s l y need t h e i r s e r v i c e s t h a t we cannot accomodate them throughout t h e i r c r i s i s p e r i o d . There are many other case h i s t o r i e s I might have i n c l u d e d here. C e r t a i n -l y , there are hundreds worthy of being t o l d . But the two I have i n c l u d e d should give the reader an i d e a of some of the problems common to the women who come to t r a n s i t i o n houses, and of some of the o b s t a c l e s the s t a f f must t r y to help them overcome. 81 L u c i l l e L u c i l l e was very young, and shy. She didn't t a l k much, and spent most of her time caring f o r her son and daughter, both under three. She constantly held or washed them, and became very angry when another woman touched them$ "They are my kids and I w i l l look a f t e r them." Despite summer heat, she con-s t a n t l y wore a scarf or turtleneck. One day when we were working together i n the kitchen I noticed the purple under the pink of her s c a r f . My remark, "that looks sore", made her blush, but she r e p l i e d , "Yeah, he r e a l l y d i d i t to me that time." A f t e r her kids were i n bed we sat together. I learned that her husband was an a l c o h o l i c , already divorced when she married him. She had believed him when he t o l d her that he had q u i t drinking, needed her support to help him stay o f f . By the time she knew the l i e she was pregnant, and soon a f t e r pregnant again. Despite beatings throughout her pregnancies, both babies were born healthy. Don f e l t L u c i l l e had turned her love to them, and the d r i n k i n g with concommitant beatings increased. She stayed "because he always promised he'd k i l l himself i f I l e f t . " When he turned h i s anger on the kids, she feared f o r t h e i r l i v e s . Weighing t h e i r l i v e s against h i s , she l e f t . Her mother-in-law gave her a i r fare from Winnipeg to Vancouver, where pol i c e sent her to us. We t a l k e d about being h i t , and the powerlessness evoked by being over-whelmed by p h y s i c a l force, and how useless and o b j e c t i f i e d i t makes you f e e l . I mentioned that one-half the women who came to us knew how that f e l t , and that many of the s t a f f d i d too. We t a l k e d about boys being taught to respond phys-i c a l l y to f r u s t r a t i o n , to i n t e r a c t more v i o l e n t l y with the world, and g i r l s l e a r n i n g to l e t things happen to them. L u c i l l e ' s p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n household i n t e r a c t i o n seemed to increase a f t e r that, and she l e f t her c h i l d r e n with s t a f f and other residents, some-thing she had been r e l u c t a n t to do i n the beginning. A few weeks l a t e r , I was asked by a U.B.C. s o c i a l work student to help her locate women who had been "battered" and who would be w i l l i n g to t a l k about i t . I agreed to approach women at the house and t e l l them about Arlene's study, and to write l e t t e r s to s e l e c t ed ex-residents who might be w i l l i n g to volunteer. When I asked L u c i l l e about p a r t i c i p a t i o n , she was i n i t i a l l y h e s i t a n t . Then she sai d , "When I f i r s t came here, I was r e a l l y surprised to f i n d so many other women who had been h i t too. I t made me think a l o t about i t . I used to be so ashamed — to think somehow that i t was my f a u l t . I'd put make-up on to hide the bruises and i f anybody noticed them I'd l i e , say I f e l l or something. But now I know i t wasn't j u s t me. Sure, I ' l l t a l k about i t . Maybe I can help someone else get out of the same s i t u a t i o n . " L u c i l l e seems to have gone through four stages: 1) self-doubt and self-blame 2) awareness of v i c t i m i z a t i o n 3) r e a l i z a t i o n that problem i s s o c i a l , not i n d i v i d u a l , and therefore not "her f a u l t " . k) i d e n t i f i c a t i o n with other "victimized" women, wish to h elp them. L u c i l l e had o r i g i n a l l y escaped her s i t u a t i o n by choosing the r o l e of mother over that of wife. But she was s t i l l d e f i n i n g h e r s e l f i n t r a d i t i o n a l "female" ways, by r e l a t i o n s h i p to others, and was extremely concerned with the mother r o l e . She was hesitant to i d e n t i f y with and p a r t i c i p a t e i n the societ y of women i n which she found h e r s e l f . Talking about her problem a l l e v -i a t e d her g u i l t , and-led her to a r e a l i z a t i o n that her problem was endemic to a society which oppresses women. Her improved r e l a t i o n s h i p s with other women, and p a r t i c u l a r l y her expressed wish to "help other women" indicate a change i n self-concept. She i s no longer a passive v i c t i m , object of her husband's beatings but someone who can help others, influence events. L u c i l l e found a place to l i v e , announced plans to put her c h i l d r e n i n daycare i n the f a l l , and to return to h a i r d r e s s i n g . She had come to see her-s e l f as "head of household", and had disassociated h e r s e l f s u f f i c i e n t l y from her c h i l d r e n so that having them cared f o r by outsiders no longer seemed so threatening. She has not kept i n touch, perhaps because she has b u i l t a new 8 3 l i f e and wants no reminders of the ol d . Anna Anna described h e r s e l f as "not much of anything", though she appeared to us to he i n t e l l i g e n t , a t t r a c t i v e , and competent. Despite her low s e l f -esteem, she had had the courage to walk out of her home. She had l e f t her only r e a l s e c u r i t y i n Canada, and her l a s t l i n k to her Czechoslovakian past. She had kept moving u n t i l she a r r i v e d at the address she had been carr y i n g i n her purse since a work mate, n o t i c i n g her despondency, had sli p p e d i t to her months before. Once inside T r a n s i t i o n House, Anna's c o n f l i c t and confusion returned. She t o l d us at length of her l i f e i n her homeland, of working as a seamstress as well as making a l l her children's clothes, of preparing t r a d i t i o n a l meals i n the manner her mother had taught her. She described the long walks with her c h i l d r e n , how b e a u t i f u l they had looked i n velvet coats she had s t i t c h e d f o r them. She hadn't asked h e r s e l f i f she were happy then, but she had known who' she was and what was expected of her. Things j u s t were the way they were, the-'way they had always been, and apparently always would be. Her mother had taught Anna her s k i l l s w e l l , as Czechoslovakian mothers had taught t h e i r daughters i n a chain that seemed e t e r n a l . Anna's emmigration to Canada i n I968 broke that chain. Her own daughters, teen-agers now, f i n d the o l d country recipes too time consuming — as does Anna, now that she i s working. They refuse to make them; she s t i l l f e e l s she must. Her daughters, l i k e t h e i r mother, are seeking new ways of being women. But f o r the younger women, the c o n f l i c t i s l e s s . The o l d world ways are not deeply engrained i n t h e i r minds and ha b i t s . They can more r e a d i l y eliminate the things they see as unnecessary. They demand the r i g h t to make t h e i r own choices, even i f "independence" means to them only the r i g h t to go 84 out with hoys from a d i f f e r e n t c u l t u r e , or to work a f t e r school and spend t h e i r money on clothes. They f e e l j u s t i f i e d i n demanding these things, he-cause t h e i r demands are l e g i t i m i z e d by the behaviour of t h e i r peer group. Anna takes her daughters' part when they argue with t h e i r f ather. She wants them to be " f r e e " . When i t comes to f i g h t i n g f o r her own freedom, Anna i s not so sure. Not knowing whether to be a "good" Czechoslovakian wife or a "modern" Can-adian woman, she has t r i e d to be both. She had taken a part time job as a stock c l e r k , and she was enjoying i t . Her voice gained animation when she talked about her work, about her f r i e n d s there, and how the supervisor con-siders her h i s best worker. But she was apologetic too; she must l e t me know her motives are u n s e l f i s h , other-directed. " I t doesn't take much time, and I spend the money on the house, so the kids w i l l be proud when they b r i n g t h e i r f r i e n d s home." She s t i l l kept the house, and h e r s e l f , immaculate, made her clothes, cooked the elaborate meals her husband demanded. Because she wanted "freedom" f o r her daughters, she d i d not ask t h e i r help. To ask her husband's would be unthinkable. Now Anna was exhausted with a l i f e that i s only work. On the Sunday she came to us, she had asked her husband to take her out; she wanted to "have some fun". When he refused, she asked h i s permission to go to a movie with a f r i e n d from work. He c a l l e d her "crazy", "a bad woman", t o l d her that she must q u i t her job i f the people she met there were going to take her out of the home he had provided f o r her. She l e f t home instead, and walked to Trans-i t i o n House. She had no money of her own l e f t f o r bus f a r e . While a resident, Anna alternated between crying, apologizing f o r cry-ing, cooking and cleaning. She was a f r a i d of the consequences of le a v i n g her home, sure now that she was indeed "crazy", or "bad", and perhaps both. She wanted to believe our reassurances, our expressed admiration f o r her cour-age and her c a p a b i l i t i e s , our statements that she d i d have a r i g h t to have "fun". But we are "women's l i b b e r s " , and she i s not sure that we know what 85 we are talking about...And the implications in our truth are frightening -i f we are right, then where must she go from there? Because she had no children with her, Anna had to be classified as "single" and he stay limited to 48 hours. She had an appointment with the local Commun-ity Care team on the forthcoming Tuesday; she and her husband had seen them once before, for "marital counselling". We agreed to give her an extension t i l l after that, and to look for alternative accommodation for her in the mean-time. But the alternatives we could offer were dismal - temporary home place-ment, limited to three days, or the Saint Francis Hotel in Gastown. In either, she would be alone, and she did not feel ready for that. When time for the appointment came, I drove: her to i t . She was impressed that I could; she had never learned to drive. "Most women don't drive in Czechoslovakia - most people don't have cars. Now I am too old." She i s probably in her late t h i r t i e s , younger than I am. Anna asked me to come and talk to the counsellors with her. I told her I would try. The team workers were solicitous to Anna, patronizing to me. They opposed our suggestion that I be part of the conference, as a repre-sentative of the Transition House workers who were involved with Anna. "We certainly appreciate the efforts you people are making, but we must keep our meetings confidential. Won't you have a seat in the waiting room." I won-dered i f an M.D. or M.S.W. would have also been told to wait outside. My friend was crying again when she came out. On the way back, she des-cribed the counsellors as "very kind". "They have a house somewhere, they are going to try to find me a place in i t . " She didn't know anything more about the house. I told her again that we were sure she could make i t on her own, i f that's what she wanted, and that I thought she was a very capable person. When we arrived back at the house, my shift was over. When I came on shift next morning, Anna had gone. A note in the log told:. me that the Community Care Team workers had come for her. I called them, found that Anna was in Vesta, a home for "emotionally disturbed" women. The counsellor 86 . assured me that Anna was in good hands; "There are good nurses there, they w i l l see that she gets good care." They would give her my regards. We never heard from Anna again. We learned that she had stayed only a few days in Vesta, then had returned home. We did not wish to c a l l her there. Anna's case was a particularly d i f f i c u l t one for us. It exemplified the pressures that oppress women, the oppression that we are trying to alleviate; subjugation to the needs of others - her husband's need for a comfortable home, maintained by a traditional wife, her daughters' desire for freedom from house-hold responsibilities; definition by male authorities and/or those who accept male definitions - her husband's "crazy" and "bad", the counsellors' "emotionally disturbed"; constraints on attempts at self-definition - taking a job, wanting to meet with friends not chosen by her husband. We did what we could to be supportive, to let Anna know that we approved and accepted her behaviour. But forty-eight hours, even extended to seventy-two, is not enough time to change a woman's l i f e , and those with more traditional definitions of "a woman's role" and "emotional disturbance" have access to more money and more services than we do. We are constrained by our own marginality. It results in a constant lack of space and.the necessity for rules limiting length of stay. There is generally room in Riverview and in Vesta; there is seldom room in Transition House. Marginality can also be manifested in lack of recognition by those in more "professional" social services. We are paraprofessionals; we do not automatically get respect from those who are more "qualified". We believe that Anna's discontent was both justified and real, real enough to cause a co-worker to give her our address, to make her leave her family and come to us. And she believes in "women's liberation" enough.to want for her daughters the freedom she is afraid to seek herself. As David (l9?5i 1?8) notes, "One of the main tasks of the other-directed individual i s to encourage others to succeed." Perhaps i f Anna could have believed more in her own future, seen her-self as someone who was not "too old", she might have directed her energy more to herself. Perhaps .if we had had more room, more time, more alternatives to offer her, the outcome would have been different. We hope she keeps our address. 87 CHAPTER VI; THE FUTURE: TRANSITION HOUSE AND THE SOCIAL CONTEXT On page 11, I stated I wished to examine three questions: What hap-pened to the energy and i n t e r e s t generated i n the o r i g i n a l Vancouver women's l i b e r a t i o n groups a f t e r 1971? How d i d the areas chosen f o r s o c i a l action r e f l e c t the o r i g i n a l character of the two groups? and How successful have t h e i r e f f o r t s been — has s o c i a l change been achieved? For the f i r s t two of these questions, answers can now be summed up; the t h i r d requires f u r t h e r discussion, and the answer w i l l not be simple to ar r i v e at. We have seen that the energy and i n t e r e s t focused on s o c i a l action a r i s i n g out of awareness of s p e c i f i c ways i n which women are oppressed. For the women whose primary focus was of the p o l i t i c a l " and economic aspects of women's oppression, the o u t l e t became the Working Women's Association, and l a t e r SORWUC, the union f o r working women. Though there are only a few women whose involvement i n these has been constant since the beginning, a core group of strong, dedicated women have worked to improve the conditions 2 of working women since 1970, b e l i e v i n g that Our goal must be to convince more and more working women of the p o s s i b i l i t y and necessity of struggle, and of basic women's l i b e r a t i o n ideas, and to convince women's l i b e r a t i o n -i s t s of the necessity of union organizing — not as an end i n i t s e l f , but. as an e s s e n t i a l defense against the a r b i t r a r y power of the employer, and as the beginning of c o l l e c t i v e action i n the area where we as women have our r e a l c o l l e c t -ive strength — at work. (Rands, 1972, 148) For the women who were p r i m a r i l y concerned with helping women escape 1) Service, O f f i c e and R e t a i l Workers Union of Canada 2) One of the f i r s t acts- of the Working Women's Association, while i t was s t i l l part of the Women's Caucus, was to organize a boycott of Cunningham's drug store chain i n support of s t r i k e r s ' f i g h t f o r a union contract i n March, 1 9 7 0 ( R a n d s > m } 88 from personally oppressive s i t u a t i o n s , and who saw the p l i g h t of battered wifes as epitomizing the oppressiveness of sex-roles and t r a d i t i o n a l male-female marital-type r e l a t i o n s h i p s , the focus evolved into organizing a T r a n s i t i o n House. For at l e a s t two of these women, the house has retained i t s place as focus; they are s t i l l on s t a f f . For another, Gene Errington, involvement i n the Women i n T r a n s i t i o n s o c i e t y was only one aspect of an e f f o r t to change the i n d i v i d u a l and c o l l e c t i v e oppression of women, i n her po s i t i o n as ombudswoman of the Status of Women's o f f i c e i n Vancouver and her l a t e r term as p r o v i n c i a l co-ordinator of the Status of Women's o f f i c e during the NDP regime. She i s s t i l l involved; now working out of the Women's Research Centre, she gave an angry, accusatory, and hi g h l y e f f e c t i v e address to the recent Symposium on Family Violence. She decried the o b j e c t i v i t y of s o c i a l s c i e n t i s t s , the removed and c o n c i l i a t o r y attitude of family court workers who see t h e i r r o l e as "maintaining the family s t r u c t u r e " and the i n -action of governments at a l l l e v e l s . She mentioned by name Jamila Dean, ex-resident who, because of the di s c r i m i n a t i o n of the law, was l e f t with no option but to return home, where she was b r u t a l l y murdered four days later.. (Errington, 1977, H I 70) She created discomfort among the professionals i n the audience, and received a standing ovation from the feminists, the major-i t y of whom were women a c t i v e l y working i n , or towards, T r a n s i t i o n Houses throughout North America. For most of the other women who were part of the o r i g i n a l groups, t r a c -ing i s not so easy. Some have "burnt out"; among these are two of the founding members of the UBC group who have r e t i r e d from t h e i r academic p o s i -tions and t h e i r feminist involvement, and now l i v e q u i e t l y on a gu l f i s l a n d , where one of them i s s t i l l c r eating l i t e r a t u r e . Even f o r them, contacts have continued; a l e t t e r from one appears i n the l a t e s t issue of a Canadian fem-i n i s t magazine, and Del Martin went to spend a long weekend with them to recuperate from her active p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the Family Violence Symposium. 89 Others go on, p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n or attending feminist groups and functions. Occasionally, a woman I meet i n such a place w i l l inform me that she was part of one of the o r i g i n a l groups f o r a while; her presence at the feminist function indicates her ongoing involvement. But t r a c i n g exact lineages i s d i f f i c u l t , and would take an en t i r e thesis f u l l of charts; as MacPherson (previously quoted) stated, " I t would be g r a t i f y i n g to be able to trace the family t r e e s . . . h i s t o r y , however, can seldom be t a i l o r e d so neatly" (see p.18 ) The point i s that, once consciousness was r a i s e d , involvement d i d occur, and in most cases, d i d continue. Lives were changed, i f not society. The energy of i n d i v i d u a l s f l u c t u a t e s , becomes di f f u s e d , or transferred to others. But the groups, and the work, are ongoing. Change on the t h i r d l e v e l i s even harder to evaluate or to prove. A f t e r more than three years, the women of T r a n s i t i o n House know very c l e a r l y that they are only a Bandaid. We understand both the truth and the f a l l a c y of the Women's Caucus claim that "Looking at i n d i v i d u a l problems leads only to i n -d i v i d u a l s o l u t i o n which could not bring about s o c i a l change." (see p. 12 ) As the UBC founders r e a l i z e d , women, because they have been oppressed as i n d i v -iduals as we l l as as a cl a s s , and because they have been i s o l a t e d from each other, must come together i n groups, exchange experiences, and receive sup-port. The strength received through t h i s may then enable them to "use the strength and confidence they get there to do p o l i t i c a l work", (see p. 13 ) Change i n i n d i v i d u a l l i v e s can lead to p o l i t i c a l change i f i t focuses subject-ive discontent and creates p o l i t i c a l l y aware women who have enough f a i t h i n themselves to believe that they can influence t h e i r environment, and who understand the importance of c o l l e c t i v e a c t i o n . I f one of our purposes i s to p o l i t i c i z e our residents, there i s l i t t l e e mpirical evidence that we have accomplished t h i s . As has been stated, most are too busy dealing with the- problems of existence to have time, or energy, or i n t e r e s t , f o r active p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n p o l i t i c s . However, as a T r a n s i t i o n House worker from Ontario declared at the United Way Symposium, "Women can vote — and damn i t , they (ex-residents) do vote now!" (Ridington et a l , 1977) They are not running f o r o f f i c e , nor j o i n i n g p o l i t i c a l p a r t i e s i n noticeable numbers, nor even demonstrating en masse on i n t e r n a t i o n a l women's day, though some do. There were four ex-residents i n the crowd at the Parliament b u i l d -ings on March 22, 1976, during the Women's R a l l y f o r Action. A t i n y per-centage of the 500+ women who had gone through the house at that date, but considering the problems involved i n getting there — f e r r y f a r e s , child-care, or time o f f work, f o r example — not a bad turnout. The purpose of T r a n s i t i o n House has always been to provide a refuge i n which women can think through t h e i r options, redefine t h e i r self-concepts, and s t a r t implementing st r a t e g i e s f o r change. Such change must always com-mence at the immediate and personal l e v e l . For the founders of the Vancouver Women's Li b e r a t i o n Groups, and f o r the women who created T r a n s i t i o n House, changes at the inter n a l / p s y c h o l o g i c a l l e v e l were a step to changes i n r e l a t -ionships and, f i n a l l y , to involvement i n s o c i a l action. Robin Morgan's quote which prefaces t h i s thesis a r t i c u l a t e s that, and Anais Nin has also recognized t h i s t r u t h : Each woman has to consider her own problems before she can act e f f e c t i v e l y within her radius; otherwise she i s merely adding the burden of her problems to the c o l l e c t i v e over-burdened majority. Her i n d i v i d u a l s o l u t i o n , courage, become i n turn l i k e c e l l u l a r growth, organic growth. I t i s added to the general synthesis. (Nin, 1976, 29) Though i n d i v i d u a l awareness i s a prelude to p o l i t i c a l a c t i v i t y , p o l i t i c a l a c t i v i t y can and does increase i n d i v i d u a l awareness; "comradeship comes from working together". The l e v e l s are not exclusive categories; they synthesize, they act upon and feed upon each other. And t h i s i s true whether the p o l i t i c a l act i s as seemingly minor as demanding your r i g h t to day care from a relu c t a n t F i n a n c i a l Aid Worker, and being successful because a Trans-i t i o n House worker has quoted you the relevant section of the act and you know you are r i g h t ; or s t a t i n g your own version of r e a l i t y to a Family Court 91 "Probation O f f i c e r " ; or conducting a workshop at a symposium and g i v i n g the women — who had not, up to that time at that conference, had a forum i n which to express t h e i r anger — a voice; or l e a f l e t t i n g banks f o r SORWUC; or seeking candidacy and o f f i c e . For women with the fewest options, sur-v i v a l as a single parent, i n a soc i e t y which has geared i t s i n s t i t u t i o n s to supporting and maintaining the nuclear family, i s a p o l i t i c a l act of great strength. P o l i t i c a l awareness may also take the form of wanting to help other women avoid or escape from s i t u a t i o n s s i m i l a r to the ones they endured. This was behind the willingness of some former residents to t a l k to Arlene Gropper f o r her study. I t also recently motivated two ex-residents to spend considerable time with Peg Campbell and me over a s i x week period during the winter of 1976-77, recording and video-taping interviews to be used f o r radio and TV programmes. The f i r s t of these, "A.Rule of Thumb", has been completed, and was shown at the Family Violence Symposium; i t was well received, and i s to be purchased by the VRB (Vancouver Resources Board) f o r a s t a f f t r a i n -ing f i l m . I t w i l l probably also be shown on "Women A l i v e " , the Status of Women's TV show, as part of a un i t on wife-battering which also contains a discussion of wife-battering between Del Martin and me. We hope that i t w i l l be an e f f e c t i v e means of reaching women who do not know that they are not alone, and that there i s a p o s s i b i l i t y of help. Because i t cannot be e f f e c -t i v e unless i t gets a forum, - i t was one of the recommendations of the " Ref-uges f o r Battered Wives" workshop which I chaired at that symposium that the video-tape, as well as the B r i t i s h f i l m Chiswick Two, a study of E r i n Pizzey's Chiswick Women's Aid, and We W i l l Not Be Beaten, another video-tape produced by the Women of the Boston, Mass. T r a n s i t i o n House, be shown to the S o c i a l C r e d i t and N.D.P. Caucuses i n V i c t o r i a , and on t e l e v i s i o n both l o c a l l y and n a t i o n a l l y (Ridington et a l , 1977). We hope t h i s w i l l come to pass, and are looking at ways to f a c i l i t a t e that. 92 The F a m i l y V i o l e n c e Conference., p r o v i d e d t h e f i r s t o p p o r t u n i t y f o r women w o r k i n g i n T r a n s i t i o n Houses t h r o u g h o u t Canada and i n some a r e a s o f t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s t o meet each o t h e r and exchange i n f o r m a t i o n and i d e a s . We s a t t o g e t h e r a t l u n c h t h e f i r s t day, a f t e r an announcement t h a t t a b l e s i n a s p e c i f i c c o r n e r were r e s e r v e d f o r T r a n s i t i o n House w o r k e r s , and* t h u s e x p e r i e n c e d t o g e t h e r t h e impact o f Gene E r r i n g t o n ' s s p e e c h — and were t h e o n l y p e o p l e p r e s e n t t o en-t h u s i a s t i c a l l y a p p l a u d i t . We met i n f o r m a l l y a t t h e end o f t h e f i r s t day a g a i n , t o a i r g r i e v a n c e s about t h e academic and o v e r - o b j e c t i v e v i e w p o i n t o f t h e male s p e a k e r s , and t o d i s c u s s means o f g e t t i n g more f e m i n i s t i n p u t i n t o t h e con-f e r e n c e . On t h e f i n a l day,' a l m o s t a l l o f us a t t e n d e d D e l M a r t i n ' s workshop, "The R o l e o f Women i n M a r i t a l R e l a t i o n s h i p s as R e l a t e d t o F a m i l y V i o l e n c e " . A t t h e end o f t h a t workshop, s e v e r a l women e x p r e s s e d d i s t r e s s o v e r t h e f a c t t h a t no for u m f o r f e m i n i s t s and t r a n s i t i o n house w o r k e r s t o speak o f t h e i r own e x p e r i e n c e was a v a i l a b l e a t t h e c o n f e r e n c e . As c h a i r p e r s o n o f t h e n e x t workshop, I v o l u n t e e r e d t o c u t s h o r t t h e p r e s e n t a t i o n s p l a n n e d f o r t h a t t i m e and t u r n t h e b a l a n c e o f t h e workshop o v e r t o such a d i s c u s s i o n . I t p r o v e d a most f r u i t f u l one, and r e s u l t e d i n t e n recommendations w h i c h were f i n a l i z e d and p a s s e d a t an a f t e r n o o n f o l l o w - u p s e s s i o n . S i n c e t h e y r e p r e s e n t t h e o u t -put o f t h e f i r s t " b r a i n - s t o r m i n g " s e s s i o n o f t r a n s i t i o n house w o r k e r s and o t h e r f e m i n i s t s p r e s e n t a t t h e c o n f e r e n c e ( i n c l u d i n g Rosemary Brown and D e l M a r t i n ) t h e y can be c o n s i d e r e d an o u t g r o w t h o f t h e i r c o m p o s i t e e x p e r i e n c e . They a r i s e o u t o f t h e c o l l e c t i v e knowledge o f women w o r k i n g d i r e c t l y t o a i d v i c t i m s o f b a t t e r i n g , and who w e l l know t h e problems a c t u a l l y e n c o u n t e r e d by women t r y i n g t o overcome t h e i r o p p r e s s i o n and e s t a b l i s h new l i f e p a t t e r n s . They a r e , i n t h e o p i n i o n s o f t h e s e e x p e r t s , t h e t h i n g s t h a t a r e most needed l ) O t h e r p r e s e n t e r s i n t h e workshop " T r a n s i t i o n Houses; Refuges f o r B a t t e r e d W i v e s " were C a r o l Taves o f I s h t a r T r a n s i t i o n House, G e o r g i n a M a r s h a l l , c h a i r p e r s o n o f t h e B.C. F e d e r a t i o n o f Women's S t a n d i n g Committee on T r a n s -i t i o n Houses, and A j a x Quinby, o f Vanc o u v e r T r a n s i t i o n House. 93 to overcome p h y s i c a l violence to women, and to help battered women r e h a b i l i -tate themselves. Because they contain both short and long term goals, they may also give i n s i g h t into d i r e c t i o n s f o r feminist a c t i v i t y on t h i s problem i n the future. Recommendations from March 11/7? workshops at Family Violence Symposium Del Martin, and Ridington-Taves-Quinby-Marshall workshops. (Ridington et a l , 1977) We recommend 1) That wife battering be designated a crime and must be treated as such by law enforcement o f f i c e r s and courts, and that the v i c t i m no longer be forced to take the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r prosecution. 2) That there be mandatory j a i l sentences or therapy f o r f i r s t offenders convicted of wife battering; parole s h a l l not be given without therapy being considered a condition of parole. Therapy programmes s h a l l be designed with input from victims and those with p r a c t i c a l experience working with the problem. 3) That the M i n i s t r y of Human Resources fund t r a n s i t i o n houses i n each of i t s d i s t r i c t s , as a statutory s e r v i c e . 4) That secondary stage houses be set up i n each M.H.R. d i s t r i c t , with support systems s i m i l a r to those now a v a i l a b l e i n YWCA group homes, and that these also be considered as statutory services and funded as such. 5) That a network of t r a n s i t i o n houses be established f o r mutual exchange of information and support, and as a p o l i t i c a l umbrella . In B.C. the BCFW standing committee on T r a n s i t i o n Houses (chairperson Georgina Marshall) s h a l l be the organizing and f a c i l i t a t i n g body f o r t h i s . 6) That Health and Welfare Canada take r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r the d i f f u s i o n of information on the problem of wife battering and on the existence of T r a n s i t i o n House, and that as part of the Health and Welfare edu-c a t i o n a l programme, m u l t i - l i n g u a l pamphlets be d i s t r i b u t e d with baby-bonus cheques and be made ava i l a b l e i n information centres, e t c . 7) That the educational programme also include the showing of the f i l m s CHISWICK I I , A RULE OF THUMB, and WE WILL NOT BE BEATEN on l o c a l , and on n a t i o n a l t e l e v i s i o n , and to MLA's and MP's; 8) That welfare have emergency funds a v a i l a b l e f o r immediate use f o r women needing to leave home, so that those unable to u n w i l l i n g to go to T r a n s i t i o n Houses may get immediate a l t e r n a t i v e accommodation. 9) That a p p l i c a t i o n f o r s o c i a l assistance not be considered grounds f o r deportation. 10) That family l i f e courses s t r e s s i n g the r i g h t s of a l l family members to partake i n decision making, and s t r e s s i n g non sex-linked a l l o c a t i o n of r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s be incorporated i n the school curriculum beginning at the e a r l i e s t grade taught, and that these be taught by adequately trai n e d people. 94 Looklng at these recommendations quickly, the r a d i c a l nature of the demands being made may not be obvious. But looking at each i n turn, and then at the impact which granting a l l these would have, one r e a l i z e s the t o t a l s o c i a l change that i s implied. l ) We recommend that wife b a t t e r i n g be regarded as a crime and treated as such, by law o f f i c e r s and the courts, and that the v i c t i m no longer be forced to take the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r prosecution. Rosemary Brown, New Democratic Party Member of the L e g i s l a t i v e Assem-bly since 1972 f o r Burrard, and opposition c r i t i c on human resources, was present at both workshops. She stated, "Some of the representatives i n V i c t o r i a believe that battered wives deserve i t , that they bring i t on them-selves by being 'undisciplined'. I m p l i c i t i n such an attitude i s an idea that men have a r i g h t to d i s c i p l i n e wives, as they do children; that the husband-wife r e l a t i o n s h i p i s one of dominance and subordination; that wives are l e s s e r beings who must be c o n t r o l l e d and mastered." Though Brown's remarks can be c r i t i c i z e d f o r being "subjective", they are based on several years' experience as a member of the p r o v i n c i a l parliament. To dismiss them as groundless would be to f a i l to understand a great b a r r i e r to the implementation of t h i s recommendation. The people who make the laws are mostly men, who r e -gard themselves as superior to women and who do not want to l e g i s l a t e laws which w i l l enable women to become equal. The laws are enforced by men with s i m i l a r a t t i t u d e s : The professed p o l i c e p o l i c y regarding what are e s s e n t i a l l y c i v i l disputes i s generally one of non-involvement. However, both the public expectation that the police w i l l act as a primary service agent i n inter-personal c r i s e s and the r e a l i t y of domestic v i o -lence coupled to the lack of an a l t e r n a t i v e agency present an overwhelming case f o r t h e i r involvement. (Levens, I976, 4) The p o l i c e make arrests i n only 7% of "domestic disputes" i n which they intervene (Dutton, 1977)- As the law presently stands, "domestic d i s -putes" are considered "service" or "order" c a l l s , rather than "law enforcement" s i t u a t i o n s , although "assaults" are i n the "law enforcement" category, ( i b i d , 1 & 95 As such, "domestic disputes" have had a " p r i o r i t y two" r a t i n g with the p o l i c e and p o l i c e o f f i c e r s have not been promoted or rewarded f o r s u c c e s s f u l l y deal-ing with them. (Dutton, 1977) Levens shows how important t h i s d i s t i n c t i o n i s : The d i s t i n c t i o n i s fundamental to the po l i c e r o l e , f o r the two functions involve quite d i s s i m i l a r p o l i c e actions and judgements. Order maintenance a r i s e s out of a d i s -pute among c i t i z e n s who accuse each other of being at f a u l t ; law enforcement a r i s e s out of the v i c t i m i z a t i o n of an innocent party by a person whose g u i l t must be proved. (Levens, op. c i t . ) The o b j e c t i v i t y of t h i s d e s c r i p t i o n i s i n t e r e s t i n g ; despite the f a c t that i n only 3 out of 96 husband-wife disputes into which p o l i c e attendance was requested during the period of Levens' study d i d a man i n i t i a t e the c a l l , the law (and, as GenerErrington pointed out i n her address to the Family Violence Symposium, many researchers) seems to deny the f a c t that i t i s a l -most always women, smaller and l e s s p h y s i c a l l y capable than t h e i r a s s a i l a n t s , that are the vic t i m s . As Errington said, " I t begins to look as i f violence i s d i s t r i b u t e d equally among members of the family, but t h i s i s not the case. We're t a l k i n g about violence against women." (Errington, 1977) Pol i c e r a r e l y intervene i n "domestic disputes" unless they are requested to, and only about h a l f the time when they are (Levens, op c i t , 2). Because "domestic disputes" are not considered crimes, since i t i s assumed that there i s no i n f r a c t i o n of "law" but only a di s r u p t i o n of "order", they are given j. a " p r i o r i t y two" categorization, as opposed to "Aggravated assault i n Progress" which has a high, class-one p r i o r i t y . Though a dispatcher can, at his/her d i s c r e t i o n , assign a higher p r i o r i t y to' a "family f i g h t " t h i s i s not often done; Levens' study includes a table "Domestic Disputes Receiving P o l i c e l ) This has changed somewhat i n the l a s t year, since the i n s t i g a t i o n of the 911 emergency-call system. "With the new system any c a l l may be given high p r i o r i t y depending on the circumstances" (Levens, 1976a, 29). A l l c a l l s w i l l now be designated as high or low p r i o r i t y . Since "domestic disputes" were previously almost always assigned a class-2 p r i o r i t y i n a 3-part system, i t w i l l be i n t e r e s t i n g to see how they are categorized. Levens i s studying t h i s , and h i s study w i l l be published i n l a t e 1977-96 Presence "by Dispute Type and Dispatch Code" (p. 30). I t indicates that i n only 4 out of 46 c a l l s where p o l i c e intervention d i d take place was a " p r i o r i t y one" r a t i n g given; 34 received a " p r i o r i t y two"; the balance " p r i o r i t y three". In f i f t y other cases, no intervention took place — no car was sent. Sixteen of these c a l l s requested advice only, leaving a balance of 34 cases where intervention was requested but not done ( i b i d , 22) — a dispatch rate of 53«8%. Where po l i c e do intervene, t h e i r action i s apt to consist only of "breaking i t up" rather than: ;ensuring that no f u r t h e r violence takes place. Don Dutton, associate professor of Psychology at U.B.C, and President of West Coast S o c i a l and Behavioral Research Enterprises, developed the new Human Relations curriculum f o r the B.C. P o l i c e College, which includes t r a i n i n g i n domestic c r i s i s i n t e r v e n t i o n . He spoke to the Family Violence Symposium, and described .the most common p o l i c e responses to such c r i s e s : 1) Get r i d of the male, with a warning that i f the p o l i c e had to return they would a r r e s t him. 2) Advise the husband and wife that i t i s a c i v i l matter, not a "police problem". 3) I f the man i s impaired, i n v i t e him outside, then ar r e s t him f o r "Status Impaired In a Public Place". (This i s a l e s s e r charge than assault, and b a s i c a l l y means l e t t i n g him "sleep i t o f f " i n j a i l ) As Dutton noted, the underlying p o l i c e philosophy i s "not to a r r e s t " because "the wife won't follow up", "The j u s t i c e system i s too c l u t t e r e d any-way" and " i t might increase the p o s s i b i l i t y of future violence". Further, " i t makes too much paperwork" (Dutton, 1977 I I I , 24-25). Though the new "domestic c r i s i s i ntervention" t r a i n i n g includes discussion of "the e f f e c t of r a c i a l and sexual attitudes on professional i n t e r a c t i o n with the p u b l i c " (Levens, 1977, 2) there seems to be l i t t l e understanding here of the reasons why women do not follow through on charges, which include f i n a n c i a l dependency and the f a c t that t h e i r batterer w i l l almost i n e v i t a b l y be l e t o f f or paroled to beat them up again, a grave consideration i f the woman must remain i n the family home. 97 Both Dutton and Levens note that p o l i c e make l i t t l e use of j u s t i c e or s o c i a l service systems i n such cases; Levens states that only 17% of "family trouble" c a l l s were written up during the period he studied reports (January-June, 1975)' He notes that while some of these might not have been reported because the s i t u a t i o n had "cooled out" before p o l i c e a r r i v e d , or because of " o f f i c e r judgements that the incident i s so t r i v i a l or habi t u a l that a report i s unnecessary or w i l l serve no purpose" (Levens, 1976, l l ) (one might ques-t i o n on what grounds such d i s t i n c t i o n s would be made, and t h e i r v a l i d i t y . I f wife-battering i s "habitual", does i t become acceptable, unworthy of note?) "The s i z e of the d i s p a r i t y between dispatches and reports...suggests that i t i s not t o t a l l y explained by these f a c t o r s ( i b i d ) . Levens notes that there seems to be a bias i n favour of cases i n v o l v i n g c h i l d r e n , and that There e x i s t s no systematic method f o r pi c k i n g up and fol l o w i n g up po l i c e recommendations f o r f u r t h e r action or r e f e r r a l of the case to helping professionals where such suggestions are made. (ibid) Although we have offe r e d p o l i c e the opportunity to bring any and a l l victims of disputes to T r a n s i t i o n House, they seldom do so. In other words, po l i c e have not been doing very much to prevent recurrence, nor to f i n d long-term s o l u t i o n s . Dutton's Domestic Dispute Intervention t r a i n i n g , which as been i n e f f e c t since Sept. 1975, may improve the s i t u a t i o n somewhat. A l l new r e c r u i t s are given t h i s t r a i n i n g ; there i s also " i n service t r a i n i n g " as resources a l -low ( i b i d , 5)• Though t h i s u n i t only takes up one week of the t r a i n i n g pro-gramme, and supposedly covers procedures as well as an " a t t i t u d i n a l teaching o r i e n t a t i o n " including: the propriety of p o l i c e intervention into domestic s i t u a t i o n s , the e f f e c t of r a c i a l and sexual at t i t u d e s of professional i n t e r -action with the public, the job d e f i n i t i o n or perceived r o l e expectations of p o l i c e , e t c . (Levens, 1977, l ) the r e s u l t s are apparently good. 98 i t has also been found that o f f i c e r s who have received domestic c r i s i s intervention t r a i n i n g report greater job s a t i s f a c t i o n with t h i s aspect of t h e i r work, are more l i k e l y to u t i l i z e other community resources i n the management of interpersonal c o n f l i c t , and are more w i l l i n g to get i n -volved i n such c a l l s when compared with longer-term exper-ienced o f f i c e r s who had not received the college t r a i n i n g . (Levens, 1977, 3) The research project on which the above statement i s based has not yet been completed, so the statement i s as yet unsubstantiated. We hope i t i s borne out by the f i n a l r e s u l t s . However, i t does seem u n l i k e l y that a very short course, attempting to deal with so many things, can t o t a l l y overcome decades of s o c i a l -i z a t i o n . As one very aware p o l i c e person, Commander James Bannon of the D e t r o i t P o l i c e , s a i d i n address to the American Bar Association i n Montreal, 1975: Those of us i n law enforcement, who are the f i r s t o f f i c i a l representatives of government to respond to violence i n the home, are s o c i a l i z e d i n p r e c i s e l y the same manner as the c i t i z e n s we: are expected to protect. Policemen, as are most males, are taught s e l f - r e l i a n c e , and t h e ' f i g h t your own b a t t l e s ' philosophy from the cradle. S i m i l a r l y , we are s o c i a l i z e d into the conscious perceptions of masculine-feminine r o l e s . In our s o c i e t y t h i s t r a n s l a t e s into dominance-submission terms. The man i s the boss, the owner; the female i s subordinate. (quoted i n Martin, op c i t , 9?) A f a c t o r which may bring better p o l i c e service i s that 20% of a l l p o l i c e r e c r u i t s are now female, and t h i s i t has been found that p o l i c e are more suc-c e s s f u l i n "cooling out" domestic disputes when a combined male-female p o l i c e team intervened. (Dutton, op.cit) (Whether the sex of the p o l i c e persons involved has any bearing on long-term solutions was not discussed.) A rec-ent new s e r v i c e , "Car 8 6 " , i n which a policeperson and a s o c i a l worker go to disputes together, should prove b e n e f i c i a l . "Car 8 6 " operates from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. n i g h t l y . I t brought four victims to T r a n s i t i o n House during the six-week period following i t s inception as a regular s e r v i c e . But again, as Dutton pointed out, "There i s only one Car 8 6 , and there are about 3 6'family fights" on a peak night; obviously, one team can't handle that load." (Dutton, op.cit.) And "Car 86" i s s t i l l dealing with the dispute as simply a "family 99 problem" and not a "crime i n progress". As w i l l be seen i n the discussion of recommendation #2, t r a n s i t i o n house workers are of the opinion that i t i s only when the batterer i s forced to the r e a l i z a t i o n that h i s behaviour i s not to be to l e r a t e d that he w i l l begin to change i t . There must be an understand-ing, by the p o l i c e , the public, and the as s a i l a n t , that committing assault on another human being — be that person stranger, c h i l d , or wife — i s cri m i n a l behaviour. The only way i n which a "domestic dispute" can become a matter f o r the criminal j u s t i c e system, i s f o r the p o l i c e or the v i c t i m to l a y charges of "assault" or "assault causing bodily harm". Since the pol i c e so r a r e l y do t h i s , i t becomes incumbent upon the v i c t i m to do so. She must go to the po-l i c e s t a t i o n or j u s t i c e of the peace's o f f i c e ; the pol i c e or j u s t i c e of the peace then determine whether or not they w i l l accept the charge, what the charges w i l l be, and whether the charges w i l l be heard i n family or i n crim-i n a l court. Because women with no other resources were understandably r e l u c t a n t to lay charges against a man on whom they were economically dependent and i n whose house they had to l i v e , only a small proportion of victims a c t u a l l y went through with pressing charges before t r a n s i t i o n houses existed. Most of our residents do follow through, because they have a safe refuge, and need not fear another battering f o r having had t h e i r husband arrested, and because they have been informed of t h e i r r i g h t s and generally have acquired the proper evidence — witnesses, doctor's reports, and so on. But p o l i c e , and to an even greater extent j u s t i c e s of the peace — seem relu c t a n t to accept charges. J u s t i c e s have i n many instances refused to take charges from our residents; i n one case, a woman who had been h e l d at gunpoint by her husband f o r over three hours was accompanied by Val MacDermot to the j u s t i c e of the peace's o f f i c e the following morning. Despite the arguments of both women, he refused the charges. In the case of Jamila Dean, a j u s t i c e of the peace decided that the charges against her husband should be "assault" instead of 100 "assault causing bodily harm". The case was therefore heard i n family court rather than i n criminal court. The "simple assault" consisted of regular heavy beatings, and severe e l e c t r i c a l shocks, over a long period of time. Jamila was murdered four days a f t e r her husband was put on probation by family court, and the couple returned home together. Mr. Dean hanged himself the day murder 1 charges against him were to be heard. Most husband-wife assault cases are heard i n family court; i t i s t e c h n i c a l l y empowered to act as a cri m i n a l court when such charges are being heard. In f a c t , i t does not do so. The o r i e n t a t i o n of family court i s towards mediation, c o n s e l l i n g , and keeping the family together. The o r i e n t a t i o n of criminal court i s towards ascertaining g u i l t , assuring the public safety, and protecting the v i c t i m from recurrence. While mediation may be useful i n cases where lac k of communication or minor differences are the problem i n a marriage, mediation i s inappropriate where violence has occurred. Further, the f a c t that the victims are r e l a t e d should make no d i f f e r e n c e - i n the venue or the sentencing i n an assault case; behaviour that i s cri m i n a l when i t i s committed against a stranger i s also criminal when committed against an intimate. Moreoever, J u s t i c e s of the Peace are not judges; they should not decide whether a woman i s t e l l i n g the tru t h , or has substantive evidence. The l i k e l i h o o d of recurrence.or e s c a l a t i o n i s much greater i n husband-wife assaults than i n t h a t ^ ^ of unrelated victims and a s s a i l a n t s . Del Martin (op c i t , 97 fi") notes that i n most cases of husband-wife murder, the po l i c e have been c a l l e d to the scene many times before the murder occurred. Jamila Dean's case i l l u s t r a t e s her point. At the National Conference of the Action Committee of the Status of Women, held i n Ottawa the weekend of March 19-20, 1977, one of the major areas of concern f o r the delegates was family law. One of the most urgen recommendations passed was that "wife battering and c h i l d abuse should be chargeable offenses l ) The Dean case has been investigated f o r the p r o v i n c i a l Attorney General's Department. I have been given a copy of that report's conclusions since my own discussion was written. While I am not free to quote from the report, i t seems to substantiate my own understandings. 101 under the cri m i n a l code". (National Action Committee of Status of Women, 1977) This indicates that not only women intimately concerned with the p l i g h t of battered wives, but concerned a c t i v i s t women from a v a r i e t y of backgrounds are demanding action on t h i s issue. Most important of a l l changes that must occur i s the a t t i t u d i n a l change that must take place on a l l l e v e l s of law enforcement, from the l e g i s l a t o r s to the enforcement o f f i c e r s , and among a l l members of the pub l i c — a willingness to face the f a c t that husband-wife violence i s violence, not " d i s c i p l i n e " nor a "domestic dispute". As Dutton noted at the symposium, " I f crime i s i n the str e e t s , you don't have to confront your own cri m i n a l p o t e n t i a l ; but i f i t ' s i n the home you have to r e a l i z e your own p o t e n t i a l f o r violence that i n c e r t a i n circumstances could be r e a l i z e d . " (Dutton, o p . c i t . I l l , 29) Violence i s i n the home; according to Murray Strauss' l a t e s t s t a t i s t i c s , released at the symposium, i t occurs i n 28% of marriages each year, and i n 5k% at some time during the marriage (Strauss, 1977 H I , 7-9).- We are a v i o l e n t society; we seek v i o l e n t solutions to problems on a l l levels, beginning with our close s t interpersonal r e l a t i o n s h i p s . Perhaps recognition by the p o l i c e and the l e g a l system that t h i s i s a n t i - s o c i a l and unacceptable behaviour might do much to cut down the incidence. Recommendation 2) That there be mandatory j a i l sentences or therapy f o r f i r s t offenders convicted of wife battering; parole should not be given without therapy being a condition of parole. Ther-apy programmes should be designed with input from victims and those with;:practical experience working with the problem. This recommendation follows l o g i c a l l y from the f i r s t ; i f wife b a t t e r i n g i s to be considered a crime, then those convicted of that crime must be dealt with as crimi n a l s . Although there was some discussion during the work-shops as to the value of inca r c e r a t i o n as a r e h a b i l i t a t i v e measure, i t was l ) Strauss defined violence as "An act c a r r i e d out having the int e n t i o n of causing pain or i n j u r y to another person." 102 pointed out that a f f o r d i n g the v i c t i m a period of safety during which she could begin to r e b u i l d her l i f e , f r e e of f e a r of r e t a l i a t i o n and f u r t h e r abuse, was s u f f i c i e n t j u s t i f i c a t i o n f o r t h i s . The value of mandatory therapy was also discussed; precedents, such as mandatory s a f e - d r i v i n g courses f o r those convicted of serious d r i v i n g offenses, and mandatory treatment of drug addicts, as a condition of t h e i r parole, were pointed out. The most t e l l i n g argument i n favour of the recommendation was that i t must be t r i e d i n order to protect both the batterer's previous v i c t i m , and h i s p o t e n t i a l ones. Let f r e e , he may f i n d h i s previous mate and assault her again, or he may f i n d a new woman to abuse. We cannot know whether therapy can s u c c e s s f u l l y repattern h i s behaviour u n t i l i t has been t r i e d . Again, the p r i n c i p l e i m p l i c i t i n t h i s recommendation i s that the i l l e g a l and a n t i - s o c i a l nature of the batterer's behaviour must be recognized, not only by the public and the victim, but by the batterer himself. As previously stated, (see p. 31 ) many wife-beaters do not recognize that there i s anything wrong with "teaching the o l d lady a lesson", and a large segment of the public, i n c l u d i n g — according to Rosemary Brown — one of i t s most powerful f a c t i o n s , the l e g i s l a t o r s , f e e l s that i t ' s a l l r i g h t to " d i s c i p l i n e " a woman "to keep her i n l i n e " . Treating a batterer as someone whose behaviour i s deviant and who i s i n need of therapy may be a step i n changing such a t t i t u d e s . Del Martin stated during her c r i t i q u e of "Ghiswick Two" at the Family Violence Symposium that "we.'ll know things are r e a l l y beginning to change when men s t a r t g e t t i n g together f a c i l i t i e s and groups to help the batterers" (Martin, 197?a, III ?8). That would imply that batterers were being seen by t h e i r peers as being i n need of help, and would symbolize the a t t i t u d i n a l change much to be desired. However, we cannot wait f o r the i n i t i a t i v e to come from men; something must be done with the batterers i n the interim. Ex-periments with intensive group therapy are s a i d to have had a 90% success rate i n the treatment of c r i m i n a l l y insane men i n Pentiguishene Hospital f o r the 103 Criminal Insane, Ontario. (Buner, 1977) If the actual rate is even half that, i t is remarkable. It was suggested that B.C. set up a model for peer therapy groups, using input from male counsellors now involved with the "Men's Groups" now operating in conjunction with the Post Partum programme. The staff of Vancouver Transition House has already invited one of the men in-volved to a staff meeting, and were favourably impressed with the programme. The Battered Wives sub-committee of the United Way Task Force on Family Violence, set up in May, 1977 is now working with him, and with other coun-sellors and representatives of the attorney-general's department, as well as staff from other B.C. Transition houses on setting up such a model. We hope to have training sessions for prospective f a c i l i t a t o r s operating by the end of 1977. I am not entirely free at this point to discuss the suicide of Mr. Dean; however, i t seems that his death is an example of the need to do something about batterers before they become murderers, as well as victims of their own violence. Recommendation 3) That the Department of Human Resources fund Transition Houses as a Statutory service in each of i t s d i s t r i c t s . At present, most Transition houses are funded on private grants or (as in B.C.) on a per diem basis from the Department of Human Resources. This does not provide well for increases or decreases in resident populations, nor for sufficient numbers of adequately r-trained staff. The three workers of Ishtar in Langley, for example, can only staff the house from nine-to-nine five days a week; on weekends, and during the night, they are "on c a l l " , but are not paid for any time they spend answering calls or going to the house to deal with emergencies. For a l l this, their hourly wage is much less than that of Vancouver Transition House workers. Houses in some citi e s are staffed by volunteers. This is generally unsatisfactory; women who volunteer their time cannot be expected to give as much as they would to a full-time job. 104 A large number of volunteers, each coming in for a few hours a week, thus becomes necessary. Completion of tasks, knowing what has been done, and what needs to be done becomes d i f f i c u l t . Residents do not have a chance to form a trusting relationship with particular staff members, and as Renee Franco of the Boston Transition House told me at the symposium, "The women waste a lot of emotional energy t e l l i n g their story over and over to different people." As discussed in Chapter 4, i t i s therapeutic for residents to form strong relationships with women who are in control of their situations, and who they can trust to give them necessary and correct information and act as their advocates when necessary. It takes paid staff, committed to spending a large percentage of their time at the house, to be able to do this. Of the four houses in B.C., only the Vancouver house is f u l l y funded, and able to staff the f a c i l i t y on a 24-hour a day, 7 day a week basis. As many studies have shown, family violence i s much more l i k e l y to occur on week-ends or in the evening than in normal working hours; obviously, there is much more likelihood of a l l members being home in non-business hours. Gelles noted that couples get into violent fights most often after dinner, between 8 and 11:30 p.m. (Gelles, 1972, 78) Levens notes that "54.3% of the 95 cases on which police reports were made occurred between 5 p.m. and 2 a.m." and that "by and large the domestic problems encountered are a weekend, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. phenomenon" (Levens, 1976, 13)• Yet lack of funds makes i t impossible for most transition houses to take in new residents at times when emergencies are most l i k e l y to occur. If, as recommended above, wife beating is to become regarded as a crime, i t becomes more important than ever that victims have emotional and financial support during the t r i a l and/or therapy period. The need no longer must be documented; Strauss' figures (page lOlprevious) show the incidence of marital violence. A l l existing transition houses are turning away as many, or more, women and children than they are serving. In 1976, Vancouver Tran-sition House came out even: 678 served, 678 turned away. During discussions 105 with T r a n s i t i o n House workers from throughout North America, as well as from England, at the Family Violence Symposium, we found s i m i l a r s i t u a t i o n s . This prompted Del Martin to say to me, as previously quoted, "The only s t a t -i s t i c you need i s that every time a t r a n s i t i o n house has opened up, anywhere, i t has been f u l l and turning away people within a couple of weeks." Recommendation 4 ) That secondary stage houses be set up i n each M i n i s t r y of Human Resources d i s t r i c t , with support systems s i m i l a r to those now a v a i l a b l e i n YWCA group homes,and that these also be considered statutory services and funded as such. Because the t r a n s i t i o n process i s a long one, and cannot be completed within one month, the need f o r a longer-term supportive environment i n which a woman would have a chance to think through, integrate, and implement the changes i n her self-concept, her personal r e l a t i o n s h i p s , and her r e l a t i o n -ship to her environment that she has begun during her residency was recognized. Because such women would no longer be " i n c r i s i s " , they could maintain and manage the homes co-operatively, with some organizational help from T r a n s i t i o n House workers when required. Intake would not be on an emergency basis, and could therefore be done at convenient, pre-arranged times. In order to free mothers to work, upgrade t h e i r education, or have some time f o r themselves, a play area s t a f f e d by competent c h i l d -care workers should be included; mothers could contribute t h e i r time there, thus increasing and exchanging s k i l l s i n parenting and working c o l l e c t i v e l y . The 'Y' group homes, i n which each mother has an apartment, with communal f a c i l i t i e s f o r c h i l d care and communal lounge areas, were suggested as a model. These are excellent f a c i l i t i e s , but are very l i m i t e d ; only mothers of one or two preschool-age children, who are working or attending an educational i n s t i t u t i o n and are under 30 years of age, are accepted, and there i s a six-month waiting l i s t . Pod housing, i n which each adult, and a l l older chi l d r e n , have a separate sleeping area, but kitchen and lounging 106 areas are communal, was also suggested. Such arrangements need, a f t e r i n i t -i a l c a p i t a l outlay, cost no more than present welfare rates; they would give women a secure, supportive atmosphere i n which the f e e l i n g s of i s o l a t i o n and i n a b i l i t y to cope often experienced by single mothers would not be problem-1 a t i c . Michael Dunn, a worker at Chiswick Women's Aid, pointed out another 2 advantage of "second-stage" houses: Because the women are secure f i n a n c i a l l y and have fr i e n d s and companionship, and someone to help with t h e i r k i d s , the women are much l e s s l i k e l y to get together with another v i o l e n t man, or go back to t h e i r old, unresolved r e l a t i o n s h i p . When and i f they do get into another r e l a t i o n s h i p , i t ' s l i k e l y to be a good one, because they're not doing i t because they f e e l they have no a l t e r n a t i v e s . (Ridington et a l , 197?) I m p l i c i t i n recommendations three and four i s a statement that women must have the r i g h t to leave men who abuse them, and that i t i s the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of the public to f a c i l i t a t e t h e i r l eaving. To make such a statement i s to contravene the assumptions on which the primary i n s t i t u t i o n of our society, the family, i s based. I m p l i c i t i n the contract of marriage i s the wife's r e s p o n s i b i l i t y to make h e r s e l f sexually a v a i l a b l e to her husband, i n return f o r which he i s obligated to support her. He i s regarded as the head of the household, she as h i s dependent. The r e l a t i o n -ship i s that of "personal master to personal dependent", i n E i c h l e r ' s terms. In such a r e l a t i o n s h i p , the r i g h t to demonstrate authority and power i s i m p l i c i t . Though ph y s i c a l abuse i s considered grounds f o r 1) In August 1977 the YWCA, working with the United Way Task Force on Family Violence, submitted a proposal f o r "second-stage" housing .as an extension of t h e i r "group homes", to the Vancouver Resources Board. Since the fat e of the VRB was then i n jeopardy, the chances of implementation of the proposal cannot be estimated at t h i s w r i t i n g . 2) Establishment of such f a c i l i t i e s i s easier i n England, as there are deserted mansions and hotels i n which women can "squat". No such f a c i l i t i e s are av a i l a b l e here; the law does not permit "squatting". " j u s t i f i a b l e desertion", many people have not regarded " d i s c i p l i n e " as i n -appropriate behaviour, nor as violence. Yet i f we accept Strauss' d e f i n i t i o n of a v i o l e n t act as one " c a r r i e d out having the intent i o n of causing pain or i n j u r i n g another person" (Strauss, op c i t ) , a slap i n the face, a spanking, an arm gripped so t i g h t l y that f i n g e r n a i l s i n j u r e skin i s a v i o l e n t act. For feminists, and f o r others who believe that women should be treated as responsible, adult human beings, the " d i s c i p l i n i n g " of one mature adult by another i s indefensible. To recognize t h i s means recognizing a woman's r i g h t to have c o n t r o l of her body, and her r i g h t to l i v e i n a comfortable, safe environment. Also i m p l i c i t i n these recommendations i s another statement, that c h i l d care should be a community concern, and not the t o t a l r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of the mother. I t has been argued since the f i r s t appearance of "women's l i b e r a t i o n " l i t e r a t u r e that f r e e and uni v e r s a l community f a c i l i t i e s f o r c h i l d care were a p r e r e q u i s i t e f o r the r e a l l i b e r a t i o n of women, and that i t i s t h e i r r o l e as s o c i a l i z e r s of ch i l d r e n that has kept women from achieving e q u a l i t y . Laurel Limpus, i n "Liberation of Women: Sexual Repression and the Family" argued that i t i s the woman's r e l a t i o n s h i p to her c h i l d r e n that keeps her from com-mitting h e r s e l f to a job (Limpus, 1972). J u l i e t M i t c h e l l ' s Women's Estate, and Peggy Morton, i n "Women's Work i s Never Done" developed a s i m i l a r argument. Yet according to a new report, The Status of Day Care i n Canada, 1976, c h i l d care i s s t i l l expensive and unsatisfactory. Interviewed about the report on CBC "Morningside", March 23, 1977, Howard C l i f f o r d of the National Day Care Information Centre s a i d that only 18% of Canadian three-to-six year olds are i n approved day-care f a c i l i t i e s . There was a much smaller increase i n numbers of c h i l d r e n attending during 1976 - 27% - than i n previous years; 197^ f o r example, saw a 105% increase. This he blamed on poor subsidies; the "marginal middle c l a s s " , — "too wealthy f o r subsidies and too poor to pay fees" have had to withdraw t h e i r c h i l d r e n . Far more ch i l d r e n — the exact number i s l) Notyet a v a i l a b l e i n pr i n t e d form. Reports are issued yearly by Health and Welfare Canada, Ottawa J J J hard to determine — are i n informal, non-licensed f a c i l i t i e s , where un-q u a l i f i e d workers are paid "from 800 to $1.00 an hour" to look a f t e r 5 or 6 ch i l d r e n . Women providing such a service have no back-up services to decrease t h e i r i s o l a t i o n , and no sick-leave. But f o r women who work and cannot a f f o r d day-care, such arrangements are the only option. C l i f f o r d pointed out the lack of action by unions on the problem, and suggested that they work with parents to get f a c i l i t i e s i n places of work, and to get gov-ernment to provide r e a l i s t i c subsidies. This i s another argument f o r unions geared to the i n t e r e s t and problems of working women. We are no cl o s e r to free and uni v e r s a l child-care than we were i n the ea r l y 1970s. Second-stage housing, where c h i l d - c a r e was av a i l a b l e as needed, could be a prototype f o r more single-parent housing. The need f o r adequate housing with f a c i l i t i e s p a r t i c u l a r l y oriented to the needs of sing l e parents was recognized by the symposium, but lack of time and disagreement as to how such a r e s o l u t i o n should be worded prevented one from being f i n a l i z e d . Recommendation 5) That a network of t r a n s i t i o n houses be established f o r mutual exchange and support, and as a p o l i t i c a l "umbrella". As Freeman has stated, a "co-optable network" i s a pre r e q u i s i t e f o r soc-i a l change (see p. 3 of t h i s t h e s i s ) . Though T r a n s i t i o n House workers and ex-residents had been aware that other women, i n other centres, were org-anizing and running s i m i l a r f a c i l i t i e s , and though occasional exchanges by mail have taken place over the l a s t three or four years, l i t t l e opportun-i t y to meet and discuss concerns of mutual i n t e r e s t has been a v a i l a b l e . We evolved separately; we have acted separately, because we f e e l separate; we have not f e l t part of a movement. The Symposium on Family Violence gave us l ) As w i l l be discussed l a t e r (p. 124 ) t h i s issue i s a complex one, because of government funding and subsidies. 109 an opportunity to become one. I n i t i a l exchanges occurred between Georgia Marshall, a former worker at Ishtar T r a n s i t i o n House and now chairperson of the B.C. Federation of Women's standing committee on T r a n s i t i o n Houses, Carol Taves, administrator of Ishtar, and myself. Because I was a member of the Symposium Planning Committee, I had been selected to ch a i r a workshop on Tr a n s i t i o n Houses. Women from Ishtar expressed i n t e r e s t i n p a r t i c i p a t i n g i n the symposium, and a meeting was arranged. We found ourselves i n agree-ment as to the format and content of the workshop, and met again a week be-fore the workshop, t h i s time with Ajax Quinby, my co-worker. The meetings f a c i l i t a t e d the workshop presentation; by the time of the workshop, we were a l l anxious to present a viewpoint expanding upon the one taken by Gene Errington and Del Martin the previous day, and to counteract the uninvolved, de-personalized and over-objective approach which we f e l t the male speakers had projected. Our enthusiasm was increased by the presence of about twenty-f i v e workers, representing almost as many t r a n s i t i o n houses i n various parts of North America, as we l l as Chiswick Women's Aid . The workshop became a planning session; the recommendations her are the r e s u l t of that. I t i s ob-vious from t h e i r content, and from the f a c t that we were able to d r a f t ten-. . resolutions i n a couple of hours, that we were i n su b s t a n t i a l agreement on the needs and the issues. Several women at the symposium were not working i n , but working toward, t r a n s i t i o n houses. Separately, we have not been able to help them much. We have written them encouraging l e t t e r s , sent l e t t e r s of support when re-quested, but have had very l i t t l e power to do anything f o r them, nor much to improve or expand our own f a c i l i t i e s . As an organization, and as a branch of the B-.C. Federation of Women, a pre - e x i s t i n g umbrella organization which a l -ready l i n k s together thousands of B.C. women, and "whose objective i s to bring about the l i b e r a t i o n of women through fundamental change i n our soc-i e t y " (BCFW, no date, l ) , we w i l l have a much l a r g e r network of women to contact and r a l l y support from. As Rosemary Brown pointed out, we w i l l also be e l i g -110 ible for more provincial grants as a provincially-based organization; i f a federal "umbrella" also becomes formalized, as is intended, we could work together to receive federal funding as well. Such a network also has psychological value; i t helps alleviate feelings that we are "bandaids", working in isolation and changing things too slowly for too few. We have known we were not alone; Del Martin describes many other shelters, Women:In Transition even more, and Betsy Warrior's Working  on Wife Abuse more again. Yet the impact of seeing like-minded women, most of whom had travelled here expressly for the conference, from Boston, Mont-real, Calgary, Windsor and California, had an impact that intellectual know-ledge couldn't bring. Names that were meaningless now have faces, personalities, memories of sharing information and understandings. Contacts such as these give us energy to go on, and increase our a b i l i t y to work for our residents through giving us new ideas. We have already set up an exchange of informa-tion and materials. "We Will Not Be Beaten", a video-tape made at the Boston Transition House and shown at the Symposium, is to be made available to us in exchange for "A Rule of Thumb", previously referred-to video-tape by Peg Campbell. The network w i l l also enable us to give specific information regarding other shelters to residents wishing to relocate. Tia Strachan, an "ex-battered wife" has offered to act as information liaison person and has provided each transition house worker present at the symposium with the ad-dresses of a l l others. Georgina Marshall, Tia Strachan, representatives of Port Coquitlam Women's Centre , other Ishtar staff, and myself, have met several times to plan a Transition House conference for mid-September. It w i l l be only for women" working in such shelters or actively working towards them, and w i l l feature workshops and speakers on funding, unionization, transition house * "P0C0" as this group is commonly known, has now received funding to set up a Transition House in the Port Coquitlam area. I l l philosophy, and the r o l e BCFW and a "network" can play i n strengthening the Tr a n s i t i o n House movement. We intend to assure that the network becomes a functioning r e a l i t y , and an active part of the BCFW. As Teather has noted, the Women's Movement i n Canada has been a decentralized mosaic; "There i s a lack of a u n i f i e d presence to pressure governments and business, f o r govern-ments don't take notice of s i l e n t , i f e f f e c t i v e grass-roots a c t i v i t y . " (303) As an organization of women a c t i v e l y involved i n women's groups throughout the province, i t i s hoped that the B.C. Federation of Women can become large and vocal enough to be a strong p o l i t i c a l force,and that T r a n s i t i o n Houses, as a f f i l i a t e s of BCFW, can both given and gain strength from such an a f f i l i -a tion . Recommendation 6) That Health and Welfare Canada take r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r the d i f f u s i o n of information on the problem of wife-battering and the existence of t r a n s i t i o n houses including a pamphlet to be d i s t r i b u t e d with family allowance cheques. Though r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r funding " t r a n s i t i o n houses" seems to be a p r o v i n c i a l r e s p o n s i b i l i t y , education on problems regarded- as matters of pub-l i c welfare comes under the j u r i s d i c t i o n of the f e d e r a l Department of Health and Welfare. Shortly a f t e r the symposium, the family allowance cheques f o r March were d i s t r i b u t e d . Their envelopes contained b i - l i n g u a l , well-written and informative pamphlets on c h i l d abuse; general information on sources of help f o r those confronting the problem was also given. This seems to be s u f f i c i e n t precedent f o r urging d i s t r i b u t i o n of a s i m i l a r pam-phlet, i n more languages (Greek, I t a l i a n , Chinese, Serbo-Croatian, and Hindi or Punjabi were suggested) on the subject of wife-battering, which would include a l i s t i n g of av a i l a b l e t r a n s i t i o n houses. The problems are rela t e d ; both are based i n dominant-subordinate r e l a t i o n s h i p s and the "r i g h t to d i s c i p l i n e " , and with violence as a response to interpersonal problems. Yet wife-beating i s more c o n t r o v e r s i a l , and support f o r victims l e s s p u b l i c l y accepted, perhaps because a c h i l d seems more helpless, perhaps because the •' subject of male oppression of women i s a threatening one to many people. 112 Whether Health and Welfare Canada w i l l give the plight of abused wives the same attention i t has given that of abused children i s therefore uncertain. If i t did print and distribute such a pamphlet, i t could leave i t s e l f open to the criticism constantly heard by transition house workers; those who choose to believe that i t i s the woman1s departure rather than the man's violence which terminates the relationship might accuse the department of "breaking up families". Agreement to distribute such a pamphlet would signify accord-ance with the precept that a woman's right to alleviate her oppression, when that oppression takes the form of violent abuse, takes precedence over the sanctity of the family. Even such a tenuous espousal of feminist principles might be seen by a male-dominated government as being a p o l i t i c a l l i a b i l i t y . Another possible d i f f i c u l t y i s that, since i t is now d i f f i c u l t to get into a transition house for lack of space, making more women aware of their existence without expanding the f a c i l i t i e s may not help them. However, i t might increase the agitation for funding. In view of the current i n s t a b i l i t y in social services, we feel i t pertinent to bring this problem to public at-tention. Should such a pamphlet be produced, i t should also be distributed with family allowance cheques. Because a l l battered wives do not receive these cheques, i t should also be made available in doctors'offices, community centres and public libraries as well. Copy is now being written by Tia Strachan, myself, and other members of the Battered Wives Sub-Committee of the Family Violence Task Force. We w i l l soon approach Health and Welfare Canada with our prospective brochure, and hope for a positive response. l) The role of the medical profession in perpetuating wife abuse by non-involve-ment, and by the prescribing of tranquilizers has not been dealt with in this paper, except very peripherally. That doctors do prescribe psychotropic drugs to women in large amountS| is well documented; see, for example, "Psy-chotropic Drug Use among Women"' 1977• It is a large subject, beyond the scope of my work. However, i f wife-battering does become classified as a crime, a law requiring doctors to report cases coming to their attention could be passed and should be useful. 113 Recommendation 7) That the education programme also include the showing of the f i l m s "Chiswick Two",* "A Rule of Thumb" and 'Ve W i l l Not Be Beaten" on l o c a l and on n a t i o n a l t e l e v i s i o n , and to MLAs and MPs. I t was understood that education on the scope of the battering problem and on the subjective experience of the battered wife, was an e s s e n t i a l part of gaining support f o r the programmes and s e r v i c e s . A l l the above named f i l m s and video-tapes were shown at the symposium; Chiswick Two, based on experiences at E r i n Pizzey's Chiswick Women's Ai d was shown to a l l p a r t i c i p a n t s on the f i r s t day; the video-tapes were shown to those intere s t e d several times dur-ing the two days. There was good response to a l l , though feminist response to Chiswick Two was somewhat mixed, since the s h e l t e r s are much more author-i t a r i a n and h i e r a r c h i c a l than most North American T r a n s i t i o n Houses, and i t was f e l t that Pizzey's commentary lacked a feminist analysis and was somewhat e l i t i s t . But the f i l m ' s impact was not doubted; i t depicted the r e a l f e a r and abuse the victims had l i v e d with extremely v i v i d l y . I t was Rosemary Brown's suggestion that the f i l m be shown to both the Socred and NDP caucuses; "some of them are human". The two video-tapes, one l o c a l , one made i n Boston, were both more subtle and a n a l y t i c a l , and both feminist produced. They would be exce l l e n t follow-ups to a showing of Chiswick Two, showing the North American experience and response to the problem. Having these productions shown on l o c a l and n a t i o n a l TV requires spon-sorship or the donation of f r e e time by t e l e v i s i o n stations and networks. There have been overtures to show "A Rule of Thumb" on two l o c a l t e l e v i s i o n s t a t i o n s . Unfortunately the tape was done on cheaper -§- inch video-tape rather than the 3/4 inch tape which i s standard f o r s t a t i o n broadcast, and a new copy w i l l have to be made from o r i g i n a l s , before the tape can be widely d i s -t r i b u t e d . Recommendation 8) That welfare o f f i c e s have emergency funds a v a i l a b l e f o r immediate use f o r women needing to leave home, so that those u n w i l l i n g or unable to go to a t r a n s i t i o n house may get immediate a l t e r n a t i v e accomodation. 114 Because the need f o r t r a n s i t i o n houses w i l l no doubt continue to exceed the supply of s e r v i c e s , a t l e a s t w i t h i n the foreseeable f u t u r e , because i t should not be mandatory f o r a woman to have to come to a t r a n s i t i o n house i n order to escape, but a matter of her choosing, i t i s b e l i e v e d necessary t h a t funds be a v a i l a b l e to those w i s h i n g to secure t h e i r own housing p r i o r to l e a v i n g the former matrimonial home. As matters stand, a woman cannot get s h e l t e r funds from welfare u n t i l she has l e f t her husband's d o m i c i l e and ob-t a i n e d a separate address. Since l a n d l o r d s w i l l not h o l d s u i t e s without d e p o s i t , women without t h e i r own money could not le a v e . Few abused wives have t h e i r own money; i t i s p a r t of the dominant-subordinate p a t t e r n t h a t the "head of the house" c o n t r o l s funds. Even wives who work are o f t e n f o r c e d to tu r n t h e i r paycheques over to t h e i r husbands f o r deposit i n t o h i s bank account; t h i s was true i n the case of J a m i l a Dean. As w i l l be discussed i n grea t e r d e t a i l and i n a broader p e r s p e c t i v e i n the f o l l o w i n g s e c t i o n , economic inde-pendence i s a p r e r e q u i s i t e f o r autonomy. Recommendation 9) That a p p l i c a t i o n f o r s o c i a l a s s i s t a n c e not be considered grounds f o r d e p o r t a t i o n . As the welfare act c u r r e n t l y reads, a l l F i n a n c i a l A i d Workers (FAWs) must r e p o r t a l l sponsored or nominated immigrants applying f o r welfare and t h e r e f o r e becoming a " p u b l i c charge", to the Immigration Department. Immigration then contacts the immigrant's sponsor or nominator and demands that (s)he sup-port the a p p l i c a n t . I f the sponsor or nominator i s u n w i l l i n g or unable to do so, the immigrant may be deported. Many immigrant women have been " p i c t u r e book" b r i d e s , sponsored by the prospective husband. I n such cases, the hus-band w i l l g e n e r a l l y agree to support her only i f she r e t u r n s home. Where the nominator i s a s i s t e r or brother, f a m i l y r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s and l i m i t e d income l ) The d i f f e r e n c e between "sponsor" and "nominator" r e l a t e s to the c l o s e -ness of r e l a t i o n s h i p ; o n ly a spouse, parent o r c h i l d can sponsor; other r e l a t i v e s "nominate". 115 o f t e n make i t d i f f i c u l t o r i m p o s s i b l e f o r f i n a n c i a l s u p p o r t t o be g i v e n , e s p -e c i a l l y i f t h e o r i g i n a l n o m i n a t i o n was f o r a s i n g l e woman, and she has a c q u i r e d s e v e r a l dependent c h i l d r e n . A g a i n , I must r e f e r t o t h e case o f J a m i l a Dean; w h i l e we have had many s i m i l a r c a s e s , h e r s i s t h e most immediate i n my mem-o r y and t h e one w i t h t h e most t r a g i c — y e t i n some ways a p p a r e n t l y i n e v i -t a b l e — e n d i n g . J a m i l a e a r n e d o n l y $280.00 p e r month, c l e a n i n g an o l d f o l k s ' home. T h i s was i n s u f f i c i e n t t o s u p p o r t h e r s e l f and f o u r c h i l d r e n , b u t as a supplement t o h e r husband's unemployment i n s u r a n c e i t s u f f i c e d . She c o u l d n o t g e t s u p p l e m e n t a r y w e l f a r e because o f h e r s t a t u s as a n o m i n a t e d i m m i g r a n t . Her b r o t h e r was h e r n o m i n a t o r ; though he o f f e r e d t o s h a r e h i s home, she d i d n o t f e e l i t r e a s o n a b l e t o b u r d e n him w i t h f i v e e x t r a p e o p l e , and t h e p r o b -lem o f d e a l i n g w i t h h e r husband. F o r t h e s e r e a s o n s , and because f a m i l y c o u r t gave h e r husband o n l y p r o b a t i o n , she i s dead. We a r e t r y i n g t o h e l p women examine o p t i o n s ; f o r us t o be a b l e t o do t h a t , theiB must be some. F o r J a m i l a , t h e r e were none. D e p o r t a t i o n w o u l d have meant d i s g r a c e i n t h e eyes o f h e r f a m i l y , and a t t a c k f r o m h i s ; r e t u r i n g home was s u i c i d e . An income supplement and/or second s t a g e h o u s i n g g e a r e d t o h e r income might have g i v e n h e r a l t e r n a t i v e s . Recommendation 10) T h a t f a m i l y l i f e c o u r s e s s t r e s s i n g t h e r i g h t s o f a l l f a m i l y members t o p a r t a k e i n d e c i s i o n making, e x a m i n i n g a l t e r -n a t i v e s t o t h e n u c l e a r f a m i l y , and s t r e s s i n g non s e x - l i n k e d a l l o c -a t i o n o f r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s be i n c o r p o r a t e d i n t h e s c h o o l c u r r i c u l u m b e g i n n i n g a t t h e e a r l i e s t grade t a u g h t , and t h a t t h e s e be t a u g h t by a d e q u a t e l y t r a i n e d and i n f o r m e d p e o p l e . I t was u n d e r s t o o d t h a t t h i s k i n d o f t e a c h i n g can o n l y b e g i n t o undo what has a l r e a d y been l e a r n e d i n t h e p r e - s c h o o l y e a r s ; t o q u o t e D e l M a r t i n ' s com-ment d u r i n g h e r workshop p r e s e n t a t i o n , "By t h e t i m e t h e y a r e f i v e y e a r s o l d , t h e y a r e r i p e o l d s e x i s t s . " L e a r n i n g t o r e c o g n i z e t h a t most human q u a l i t i e s a r e human, r a t h e r t h a n m a s c u l i n e o r f e m i n i n e , and t h a t p e o p l e a r e e q u a l l y c a p a b l e r e g a r d l e s s o f s e x s h o u l d i n d e e d s t a r t i n t h e n u r s e r y , p e r h a p s w i t h t h e abandonment o f w r a p p i n g boys i n b l u e b l a n k e t s , and g i r l s i n p i n k . D e l M a r t i n 116 has s a i d to me, "We'll know we've made i t when the f i r s t question we ask i s n ' t 'Is i t a hoy or a g i r l ? ' " On a GBG radio interview, (Update, heard March 12, 1977) 1 was asked i f I thought we would eventually work ourselves out of a job. My r e p l y was that I d i d not think that could happen unless one generation had been r a i s e d i n a t o t a l l y non-sexist way. P r i o r to that millenium, a l o t of unlearning of conscious and unconscious sexism must take place. As the public becomes more aware — and despite backlash, there has been an o v e r a l l increase i n public awareness and acceptance of r i g h t s of women to e q u a l i t y during the l a s t decade — non-sexist education can begin i n the home. For now, we are urging that i t begin as e a r l y i n the school curriculum as i s possible. (Of course, where chi l d r e n are attending pre-school and child-care f a c i l i t i e s , non-sexist treatment and education i s also imperative. However, as stated, only 18% of pre-school children.are i n such f a c i l i t i e s -see p. 107) Because pre-school education and day-care are l e s s organized and struc-tured than public schools, and are mainly c o n t r o l l e d by women, non-sexist programmes may be easier to implement at that l e v e l . Changing the attitudes of public-school p r i n c i p a l s and school boards may be m o r e - d i f f i c u l t . To extend a Smith quote used e a r l i e r : In t h i s kind of society the exclusion of women from a c t i v e l y making and creating the forms under which s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s are thought and spoken of has not been so v i o l e n t l y suppressed. The ordinary s o c i a l l y organized processes of s o c i a l i z a t i o n — education, work, and communication perform more routine, generalized, and e f f e c t i v e p r a c t i s e . The education system i s an important aspect of t h i s p r a c t i s e because i t t r a i n s people to the s k i l l s they need i n order at various l e v e l s to p a r t i c i p a t e i n these i d e o l o g i c a l forms of c o n t r o l . (Smith, 1976, 9) As Steacey, Beraud, and Daniels have stated, "As society's o f f i c i a l s o c i a l i z i n g agent, schools both r e f l e c t and perpetuate the p r e v a i l i n g s o c i a l norms. Indeed, they can i n h i b i t s o c i a l change as w e l l . " (1974, 14) Schools are run by men, and "As we go up the scale of the education system, s t a r t i n g with primary school and going up through various l e v e l s of the u n i v e r s i t y , 117 we find decreasing percentages of women at each level up in this hierarchy." (Smith, 1976, 10) Schools reflect the ideologies which have oppressed women, and those who control them will not willingly and knowingly implement programmes designed to alleviate that oppression. As one example of such negative response to "feminist" programmes for high schools, there has been considerable opposition to the women's studies programme prepared by the BCTF, and now available at the option of the school boards (see discussion in Priorities, Sept. 1976). It is not to be expected that non-sexist "Family Life Education" programmes (perhaps the word "family" could be dropped from the ti t l e , as one of the components feminists would see as necessary in such a programme would be an investigation of alter-natives to the nuclear family) would be accepted immediately and without question. Working through the Transition house association, and perhaps with the help of the BCTF, we plan to work to help bring about its establishment, while also working towards non-sexist education at a l l levels in other ways. 118 CHAPTER VII: IMPLICATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS Taken i n sum, the recommendations i n Chapter S i x both e x p l i c i t l y and i m p l i c i t l y encompass the range of feminist demands. Though i n general more oriented to short term goals than long-term solutions, the long term goals — p o l i t i c a l , s o c i a l and economic equality f o r women — are i m p l i c i t throughout. Separation of these three areas i s impossible. Since men have p o l i t i c a l , s o c i a l , and economic power, they control resources i n a l l these areas. Meissner has noted: The association between the d i v i s i o n of labour and s o c i a l i n -equality i s maintained i n the p r i v i l e g e d i n t e r e s t of groups of persons who c o n t r o l resources. These resources include the c r i t e r i a of evaluation of the s o c i a l worth of s p e c i a l i z e d functions, as well as the means f o r a l l o c a t i n g functions and rewards according to those c r i t e r i a . Sexually s p e c i a l i z e d funct-ions are ranked according to men's preference and a l l o c a t e d according to t h e i r i n t e r e s t . (Meissner, 1976, 2) In other words, i t i s a man's world, and because i t i s , men decide who performs tasks, and what kind of status each job w i l l have. Because men do the assigning and evaluating, the work that men do i s always seen as more valuable than the work women do — even when i t i s the same. (As readers of the Status of Women at U.B.C. w i l l remember, women with the same academic rank and years of service were, u n t i l very recently, being paid l e s s than men.) Though women are, i n Marchak's words "the support beams of the (class) structure, doing the service jobs inside and outside the home without which the economy would collapse "nobody r e c a l l s t h e i r existence so long as the whole thing stays put" (Marchak, 1973, 202). Despite f a i r employment and human r i g h t s l e g i s l a t i o n , and a decade of feminist a g i t a t i o n , the s i t u a t i o n has changed l i t t l e . Young or old, women make l e s s money than men. Women i n Canada who worked a f u l l year i n 1976 made, on average, $6,543• Men working the e n t i r e year made $11,682, according to the women's bureau (of the f e d e r a l department of labour). In other words women received, on average, only about 55%> 119 of the money that men got. Part of the difference, perhaps 20 points out of the 55, can he explained by the f a c t that one woman i n f i v e i s a part-time worker while only one man i n 20 i s . That s t i l l leaves women "underpaid" by 35% because they have lower paying jobs, enjoy l e s s opportunity f o r advancement, or simply are discriminated against. (Adams, 1977, 25) Status i s a concommitant of occupation, money, and power, i n addition to the r e l a t e d f a c t o r s of status of fath e r and e t h n i c i t y . An a d d i t i o n a l " s t r a t i f y i n g v a r i a b l e " i s sex. employed women are ranked on the same c r i t e r i a as men— occupation, income, education, etc. (thus occupying an independent status) with an a d d i t i o n a l s t r a t i f y i n g f a c t o r , sex, attached to the above dimensions — non-employed housewives are ranked s o l e l y i n terms of the man they are attached to, that i s , i n most cases, t h e i r husband. (E i c h l e r , op c i t , 45) Even f o r women with independent status, E i c h l e r notes, the derived status i s always supposed to be higher than her independent, attained status; i t takes precedence ( i b i d , 46 ) . This seems to follow Benston's d e f i n i t i o n : We w i l l t e n t a t i v e l y define women then as that group of people who are responsible f o r the production of simple use-values i n those a c t i v i t i e s associated with the home and family. (Bensfen, 1969, 196) Benson goes on to note that women's work, inside and outside the home, i s based on women's r e s p o n s i b i l i t y to the reproductive and maintenance nature of the family. In both areas they generally serve others. And, as Meissner's recent work has shown, working outside the home does not mean that a woman's work load at home i s r e l i e v e d , nor that her husband takes on a la r g e r share of the domestic duti e s . Examination of time budgets and labour-force data suggests that Canadian men have gained reduced working hours and reduced p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the labour force at the expense of women. On the other side of the coin, the apparent gain i n p a r t i c -i p a t i o n i n paying work i s being accomplished at great cost to 120 employed women. Even though women with jobs have to compress t h e i r domestic obligations i n order to accomodate t h e i r jobs, they shoulder an enormous workload under the regimen of an unremitting schedule. Comparisons with e a r l i e r time-budget studies suggest that housework hours have not declined i n recent decades, and several comparisons indicate an increase, p a r t i c u l a r l y f o r women with paid work... When there are young ch i l d r e n , and women contribute to an otherwise inadequate income, the greater requirements to which the household has to respond are being met almost e n t i r e l y by women. Men do not respond to the demands made on t h e i r households by t h e i r wife's job, and they make only token a d d i t i o n a l c o n t r i -butions to meet requirements d e r i v i n g from young ch i l d r e n . Increases i n domestic working time of husbands which can be rec-ognized tend to take the form of d i s c r e t i o n a r y 'and not immediately necessary a c t i v i t i e s . (Meissner, 1976, 8) Housework i s "small-scale and re d u p l i c a t i v e , p r i v a t i z e d , kin-based, multi-purpose; more l i k e p r e - i n d u s t r i a l production u n i t s . . . " (Benson, 198) I t i s not rewarding, e i t h e r i n terms of money, praise or s a t i s f a c t i o n gained; i t i s tedious; i t must be done, and done again the next day. Men a l l o c a t e tasks; housework i s work that they choose not to do. Men appear to have a pronounced preference f o r " f u n c t i o n a l l y s p e c i f i c " work requirements, that i s , they are readier to accept tasks as legitimate which have i d e n t i f i a b l e components and well-defined boundaries (and to define other requirements and d i r t y work appropriate f o r s o c i a l i n f e r i o r s ) . The requirements f o r maintaining organized work and meeting personal needs, however, cannot be f u l l y nor even adequately met through a l i s t of s p e c i f i c functions, and the l i s t would always end i n the etceteras of unspec-i f i e d o b l i g a t i o n s . I f men have f i r s t c a l l on s p e c i f i c s , women are compelled to keep up the open-ended remainder. (Meissner, op c i t , 14) Housework has no monetary value — only use value. I t i s a service, not a commodity. I t i s given, not so l d . To quote Meissner further, In r uthless s o c i a l invidiousness, i t i s better to receive than to give, and men are more powerful than women. Functional d i s t i n c t i o n s become ordered s o c i a l i n e q u a l i t i e s ; . . . ( i b i d , p. 2) Because women are h e l d responsible f o r domestic chores, they are seen unable to give the "primary commitment" required of a career; "careers 121 give primacy of commitment and time to the job, and keep men from being at home when they are needed" ( i b i d , 15)' In general, i t i s men who have careers; women have jobs. Although Marchaks' work shows that women are as well-educated and as committed as men, have no higher absenteeism rate, and want more responsible p o s i t i o n s , they are not h i r e d f o r , nor promoted into, management p o s i t i o n s . (Marchak, op c i t , 206) Marchak sees the underlying reason f o r t h i s as the f a c t that most "women's jobs" are ones i n which they are e a s i l y replaced. The jobs women do are e a s i l y learned, and women are train e d i n large numbers to do them; typing, bookkeeping, office-machine operation, telephone operating, and so on. O f f i c e s could not run without people doing these jobs, but i t makes very l i t t l e d i f f e r e n c e which people do them. A stenographer or theatre usher i s e a s i l y dismissed, and another can be f i t t e d into the job with a few hours' f a m i l i a r i z a t i o n . Women have become the equivalent of the u n s k i l l e d labour pool of the nineteenth century, and f o r the present time i t may seem i n the i n t e r e s t s of men to keep them there. Workers i n weak bargaining positions — that means workers with low job secur i t y , low upward mobility, low cont r o l over work processes and easy replace-a b i l i t y — earn low incomes. They form something l i k e a h o r i z o n t a l support base to the v e r t i c a l h i e r a r c h i e s of men at work. ( i b i d , 209) Women i n such positions are not seen and evaluated as i n d i v i d u a l s , with s k i l l s and p o t e n t i a l . They are the " g i r l s " who type or wait on table. Though White has found that "the r e l a t i o n s h i p between worker autonomy and job s a t i s f a c t i o n i s more s i g n i f i c a n t l y supported f o r women than f o r men..." (White, 1973, 220), few women have such autonomy. Perhaps the low status and low autonomy, as we l l as the low pay, that most women have i n the jobs a v a i l a b l e to them i s the reason why marriage and housework seems preferable. l ) I would disagree with Marchak here. Typing, bookkeeping, and o f f i c e -machine operation are h i g h l y - s k i l l e d , and require t r a i n i n g and practice to a greater degree than more highly paid, unionized and higher status "men's jobs" such as truck d r i v e r , longshoreman, butcher. But i t i s true that women are tr a i n e d i n large numbers to do o f f i c e work, and that, despite the importance of t h e i r work to the operation of business, t h e i r i n d i v i d u a l worth i s poorly recognized. Because these jobs are "women's work", the workers, and t h e i r work, are undervalued. 122 Women have the choice of only private e x p l o i t a t i o n as housewives, or of toeing exploited i n tooth public and private, as long as marriage i s the dominant mode of creating households and maintaining the services they provide. (Meissner, op c i t , 2-3) The s o l u t i o n f o r women obviously does not l i e s o l e l y i n entering the work force, though t h e i r s i t u a t i o n there must be improved as one concommitant of an improvement of t h e i r o v e r a l l p o s i t i o n i n soci e t y . There are several ways to go about t h i s ; they are not a l l mutually exclusive: 1) Wages f o r Housework 2) Guaranteed Annual Wage 3) Eq u a l i t y of wages and recognition of the value of work done by women (unions f o r working women) 4) Increased p a r t i c i p a t i o n of women i n the public sphere, and of men i n the private sphere. These p o s s i b i l i t i e s w i l l now be b r i e f l y discussed. While wages f o r housework or a guaranteed annual wage would give women some independent income, thus increasing t h e i r a b i l i t y to leave untenable s i t u a t i o n s and perhaps more bargaining power within t h e i r marriages, they are not r e a l l y solutions; they would not, by themselves, r e a l l y improve the p o s i t i o n of women i n s o c i e t y . Without concomittant changes i n family structure and the sexual a l l o c a t i o n of work, they would not give women the options a v a i l a b l e to men. Neither would they decrease the i s o l a t i o n of women. Women would almost cer-t a i n l y be paid minimally. Housework would remain "women's work" and i t s value would s t i l l not be properly recognized. Women would s t i l l r e t a i n the respon-s i b i l i t y f o r c h i l d care, and would s t i l l have l e s s freedom to p a r t i c i p a t e i n the p u blic sphere, or to influence the decisions which a f f e c t t h e i r l i v e s . Wages f o r housework r a i s e s other questions, p a r t i c u l a r l y with regard to terms of payment. Would governments, in t e n t as they are on acc o u n t a b i l i t y and categorization, be w i l l i n g to pay a l l houseworkers — male or female — at the same rate, or would the sal a r y vary according to ages and number of household members? Foster parents, and those given custody of chil d r e n under supervision, 123 are now subject to inspection from c h i l d welfare workers. One of my co-workers, given temporary custody of a grandchild, was invaded without warning by a worker who had her remove the c h i l d ' s diaper to examine f o r rash, and go through a l l her laundry to assemble h i s c l o t h i n g so that she could prove he had an adequate wardrobe. Would such i n d i g n i t i e s be perpetrated on a l l home-makers i f they become government employees? While wages f o r housework might be a means of upgrading the economic p o s i t i o n of women, and of perhaps ge t t i n g men to do some of that work, i t s value would be l i m i t e d , and the terms of such payment would need to be very c a r e f u l l y worked out. More basic, and important, to f i n d i n g permanent solutions to women's oppression i s a r e d i s t r i b u t i o n of public and private work, and a recognition of the value of work women do i n e i t h e r public or domestic sphere. Rosaldo's recent (1974) statement i s an echo of Mead's 1949 summation, (quoted on p. l ) What i s perhaps most s t r i k i n g i s that the male, as opposed to the female, a c t i v i t i e s are always recognized as predominantly important, and c u l t u r a l systems give authority and value to the r o l e s and a c t i v i t i e s of men. (Rosaldo, 1974; 19) This s i t u a t i o n w i l l not be changed by providing women with a minimal income f o r performing the tasks they have always had to perform. I f the goal of fem-inism i s to e s t a b l i s h a culture where i t i s recognized that there i s no d i f f e r e n c e , between men and women except i n the way they contribute to the creation of the next generation, that other-wise they are simply human beings with varying g i f t s , no one of which can be e x c l u s i v e l y assigned to e i t h e r sex. (Mead, 1949, 39, see p. and i n which tasks are assigned on the basis of i n t e r e s t , t a l e n t , and suitab-i l i t y only, neither wages f o r housework nor a guaranteed annual wage w i l l g r e a t l y contribute to that goal. We must then f u r t h e r examine e q u a l i t y of wages and recogn i t i o n of the value of work done by women, and increased par-t i c i p a t i o n by men i n the private domestic sphere and women i n the-public sphere as means to t h i s end. 124 Upgrading of Women's Work The t h i r d proposition, e q u a l i t y of wages and recognition of the value of work done toy women i s a route which might lead to greater improvement of the status of women, and increase the options a v a i l a b l e to them, i f other factors are co-existent. This i s the route pursued by unions f o r working women such as AUGE (Association of U n i v e r s i t y and College Employees) and SORWUC. SORWUC, formed i n 1972 and i n r e c e i p t of i t s f i r s t c e r t i f i c a t i o n i n 1973, has remained small and r e l a t i v e l y unrecognized u n t i l t h i s year. Despite the hard work of many dedicated women, inclu d i n g Jean Rands who has worked f o r the working women's association and SORWUC since 1970, and many T r a n s i t i o n House s t a f f members, there were only about 175 SORWUC members i n less than twenty bargain-ing units at the beginning of 1977' Many of i t s c e r t i f i c a t i o n s had been f o r day care and s o c i a l service agencies, funded by governments, yet managed by community advisory or parent boards. While the boards are t e c h n i c a l l y the employers i n such cases, they have no co n t r o l over money, and are at the mercy of governments who can increase or decrease funding f o r t h e i r own reasons, not n e c e s s a r i l y connected with the needs of the workers, the parents, or the ch i l d r e n . A l i c e Rossi, i n an early feminist essay, "Equality of the Sexes; An Im-modest Proposal" (1964), c a l l e d f o r an upgrading of c h i l d care work, and noted that a network of c h i l d care centres was qu i c k l y created during World War Two, when women were needed i n the labour force, and as quic k l y dismantled when men wanted " t h e i r " jobs back a f t e r the war (Rossi, 1964, 148). Provision of c h i l d care, or r e f u s a l to fund c h i l d care centres, i s thus a means of govern-ment control of the surplus labour pool which women co n s t i t u t e . In times of high unemployment, such as the present, day care subsidies become harder to get; thus many "working poor" and marginal middle class f a m i l i e s are excluded from sending t h e i r c h i l d r e n . This r e s u l t s i n vacancies i n c h i l d care centres, g i v i n g governments an excuse to close down these f a c i l i t i e s . I f workers de-mand decent wages when subsidies are low, parents must pay even more, thus 125 worsening the s i t u a t i o n and causing closure of more centres. Daycare i s then l a b e l l e d "unnecessary" because so few f a m i l i e s are using i t . For these reasons, day care workers have been d i f f i c u l t to unionize. But i n another area, more c e n t r a l to the Canadian economy, SORWUC has rec e n t l y gained a great v i c t o r y . On June 14, 1977, the Canadian Labour Relations Board decided that the United Bank Workers, Local Two of SORWUC, and a s i s t e r union i n Ontario, could organize bank workers branch by branch. SORWUC had already signed up enough members f o r c e r t i f i c a t i o n i n at l e a s t f i v e branches, and a c r e d i t union i n Burnaby as we l l , and c e r t i f i c a t i o n f o r these s i x groups came about i n July, 1977. Though the lawyers f o r the banks, who opposed the union's p e t i t i o n , had argued that allowing banks to organize branch by branch would create "chaos i n the economy", the board dismissed the banks' argument that a na t i o n a l bargain-ing u n i t encompassing a l l 34,000 employees ( i n the case of the Canadian Im-p e r i a l Bank of Commerce) would be the only way to proceed, on the grounds that "Too large u n i t s i n unorganized industry w i l l abort any p o s s i b i l i t y of c o l l e c t i v e bargaining ever commencing." The Vancouver Province, f o r June 15, 1977, quoted the B.C. Federation of Labour president as p r e d i c t i n g that the deci s i o n w i l l change the whole face of the labour movement by encouraging white c o l l a r workers to organize. The decision also pointed out that unions oriented to the p r a c t i c a l needs of women can and should be the appropriate vehicles f o r the unionization of white c o l l a r workers, since the great majority of such workers are women. Cynthia Flood noted the implications of-the r u l i n g , and the hard work i t took to a t t a i n i t : I t means that a group of workers, mostly women, who have f o r uncounted years been among the worst paid, l e a s t promoted, and shoddily treated employees i n the service i n d u s t r i e s can now l e g a l l y and c o l l e c t i v e l y begin to f i g h t f o r better wages and working conditions. I t also means, because these things have a "s p i n - o f f " e f f e c t , that women workers i n other l ) For a discussion of SORWUCs a f f i l i a t e d day care centres, and the p a r t i c u l a r problems of t h e i r workers, see Potrobenko, 1976. 126 and s i m i l a r l y u n s a t i s f a c t o r y industries w i l l take note, take heart, and begin to move. SORWUC's achievement should not be underestimated. I t i s a small group; i t took on the major f i n a n c i a l i n s t i t u t i o n s of the country; i t had no massive funding or team of paid, experienced organizers. What i t d i d have was a l o t of hard work, a l o t of support from the women's movement, and a l o t of determination. SORWUC has produced a v i c t o r y that w i l l go into the h i s t o r y books, and to SORWUC go our h e a r t i e s t congratulations and thanks. (Flood, 1977, 23) Our a f f i l i a t i o n with SORWUC has presented us with an avenue through which to work f o r the economic upgrading of women's labour. This has been extremely important and meaningful to us f o r the past three years. As of June 22, 1977 t h i s a f f i l i a t i o n i s i n jeopardy. On that date, the S o c i a l Credit p r o v i n c i a l M i n i s t e r of Human Resources announced that he was disbanding the Vancouver Resources Board, and that on the completion of the takeover of a l l VRB services by h i s ministry, a l l VRB employees, now members of four d i f f e r e n t unions, would be made members of the B.C. Government Employees Union. Whatever the merits of the BCGEU, i t i s not focussed on the p a r t i c u l a r needs of women workers; more importantly, i t i s not the union of our choice. Many aspects of the d i s -s o l u t i o n of the VRB are threatening to"the s t a f f and residents of T r a n s i t i o n House, as w i l l be discussed f u r t h e r i n my conclusions. But one or our most immediate concerns i s the l o s s of our SORWUC a f f i l i a t i o n . We believe i n the p r i n c i p l e that women have p a r t i c u l a r needs and problems and should a f f i l i a t e with unions dedicated to working f o r women. We also believe i n the r i g h t of workers to be represented by the union of t h e i r choice. Many of my co-workers have been among those Flood noted as having donated a great deal of hard work and time to help organize banks and other i n s t i t u t -ions . At a time when SORWUC seems to be on the way to r e a l i z i n g the r e s u l t s of that hard work, and i s becoming large enough to have a powerful voice, we are being estranged from i t . Public versus Domestic P a r t i c i p a t i o n Following her examination of c r o s s - c u l t u r a l studies on sexual d i s t r i b u t i o n of labour, Rosaldo concluded that: Women gain power and a sense of value when they are able to transcend domestic l i m i t s , e i t h e r by entering the men's world or by creating a society unto themselves...the most e g a l i t a r i a n s o c i e t i e s are not those i n which male and female are opposed or even competitors, but those i n which men value and p a r t i c i p a t e i n the domestic l i f e of the home. Correspondingly, they are s o c i e t i e s i n which women can r e a d i l y p a r t i c i p a t e i n important public events. (Rosaldo, 1974, 41) Perhaps Rosaldo i s considering a l t e r n a t i v e household structures, such as feminist co-ops or communes, as "s o c i e t i e s unto themselves". Women l i v i n g i n groups with t h e i r children can share domestic chores, decreasing the household duties and childcare r e s p o n s i b i l i t y of i n d i v i d u a l s . However, such arrangements 1 leave women with the burden of c h i l d care. Another proposition, not mentioned by Rosaldo, i s making much of what i s now private, domestic work — cooking, maintenance of clothing, and c h i l d care — av a i l a b l e p u b l i c l y at minimal cost. But Rosaldo's main point — that men as well as women must take r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r the maintenance of the household and i t s members, i s an important one. Whether t h i s work i s performed i n private or i n pub l i c f a c i l i t i e s , so long as i t i s "women's work" i t w i l l continue to have low status, and to prevent equal-i t y of p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n public a f f a i r s . P a r t i c i p a t i o n by men i n the domestic sphere i s a necessary concomittant of recognition of the value of work now done by women. I t i s an enabling f a c t o r f o r the increased p a r t i c i p a t i o n of women i n the public sphere, by which they may come to influence and p a r t i c -ipate i n decisions which model t h e i r s o c i e t y . According to Rosaldo (following Chodorow, 1974), s o c i a l i z a t i o n of boys i n our culture r e s u l t s i n t h e i r becoming estranged from the domestic sphere, so that distance permits men to manipulate t h e i r s o c i a l environment, to stand l ) For ex-residents, or other women who have reason to fear t h e i r former mates, group arrangements can be very h e l p f u l . The r e s t of the discussion here i s not pertinent to these cases; men who are abusive and v i o l e n t can obviously not be entrusted with the care of ch i l d r e n . 128 apart from intimate interaction and, accordingly, to control i t as they wish. (Rosaldo, op. c i t . , 2?) In contrast, "When a man is involved in domestic labour, in child care and cooking, he cannot establish an aura of authority and dis-tance." This last point would only hold true i f such involvement was inten-sive; on a day to day basis, the uncontroliability of the domestic sphere, particularly in a large, complex household where children are present, i s unmistakeable. Whether the majority of men, socialized to be competitive, could interact co-operatively in a household is questionable. Meissner's work indicates that such a goal i s far from being realized. With non-sexist child-rearing and education - far from common as yet - such participation could increase i n the future. Perhaps, ultimately, such participation might decrease the incidence of marital violence as well - without "authority and distance", communication and friendship between men and women might increase, and the need to display superiority and power decline. Conclusions The women who have been, involved with Transition House over the past five years have accomplished extraordinary things. They have established and controlled an institution for the purpose of helping women escape from oppressive marital relationships, and havehhad i t accepted and integrated within the social services delivery system. Although wife beating has beerf\practised throughout history, at no time prior to this decade have there been institutions for the specific purpose of aiding victims. Convents have sheltered some women and relatives or friends have often given aid to individuals. Such assistance implies that i t was an individual problem, and an uncommon one. Setting up an institution for the sole purpose of aiding battered wives, and getting public funds allocated to support i t , implies that the problem is not only widespread, but that i t is a social problem. It also implies that such behaviour cannot be 129 condoned, that women have a right to leave men who abuse them, and that the public has a responsibility to f a c i l i t a t e their leaving. Such assumptions contravene traditional attitudes towards the i n v i o l a b i l i t y of marriage, and of women's rights within marriage. The work of Transition House staff and other active members of SORWUC is also extraordinary. The organization of women to demand adequate working conditions and recognition of the work they do, in jobs which are the back-bone of commerce and industry, implies radical change in the economic system. As Rands stated (see p. 87), union organizing i s "an essential defense against the arbitrary power of the employer and...the beginning of collective action in the area where we as women have our real collective strength." However remarkable and valuable these accomplishments may be, they may be in jeopardy. Transition House funds may soon be severely curtailed and it s workers' union a f f i l i a t i o n taken from them. The social service system of which Transition House is a part, and on which i t is dependent for funds, is controlled by a government whose interest i t serves to have women remain in their traditional roles, and to be isolated and unable to act collectively or support each other. The fact that the Vancouver Resources Board, and Transition House, are soon to be taken over by the Ministry of Human Resources emphasizes the vulnerability of women-oriented institutions in a world controlled by men. The takeover of the Resources Board symbolizes the end of an attempt, begun under the New Democratic government in 1974, to have community participation i n the delivery of social services. Though not a l l social services are women-oriented, the majority of the VRB's workers (though not i t s administrators), and of those who use i t s f a c i l i t i e s are women, and womenr.were generously represented on the Community Resource area boards. These boards, elected by and from residents of each Vancouver neighbourhood, originally had a mandate to decide what service, in addition to statutory services such as social assistance, should be available 130 i n each d i s t r i c t , and to provide grants to organizations providing those se r v i c e s . Shortly a f t e r the S o c i a l Credit government was returned to power, i n December 1975, the community boards' power to give grants was rescinded, and t h e i r members' s a l a r i e s were eliminated. The boards stayed on, as advis-ors to the Vancouver Resources Board. Now they, and the VRB, w i l l cease to ex i s t , because the board "has not been following through with various p o l i c y approaches from V i c t o r i a , s p e c i f i c a l l y with regard to the ministry's job f i n d i n g and welfare fraud programmes", f o r which the VRB "hired people on the basis of experience as s o c i a l workers rather than f o r t h e i r i n v e s t i g a t i v e a b i l i t i e s " . (Vancouver Province, July 14, 1977) Most Vancouver Resource Board employees shared with T r a n s i t i o n House s t a f f a b e l i e f that people are valuable, and should be treated with d i g n i t y . This i s a core b e l i e f of a l l who seek to r e l i e v e oppression and create a more equit-able society; i t i s the a n t i t h e s i s of the b e l i e f s of those who hold power i n h i e r a r c h i c a l s t ructures. T r a n s i t i o n Houses, such as Ishtar and V i c t o r i a Trans-i t i o n House, which are funded d i r e c t l y by the M i n i s t r y of Human Resources, oper-ate on a per diem grant which enables only three s t a f f to be paid, and the houses only to be s t a f f e d f o r 12 hours a day on weekdays. For emergencies, in c l u d i n g night and weekend intake, Ishtar s t a f f are c a l l e d by mechanical "pagers". They are not paid f o r time expended i n dealing with such emergencies. The Mi n i s t e r of Human Resources closed down both Ishtar and V i c t o r i a Trans-i t i o n house s h o r t l y a f t e r he took o f f i c e . He was persuaded to re-open them when given evidence that they were cheaper than t h e i r a l t e r n a t i v e s — motel rooms and c a f e t e r i a s . But he has not changed h i s negative opinion of trans-i t i o n houses. In h i s J u l y 18th, 1977 interview with Peg Campbell, the minister stated: I would prefer that women remain i n t h e i r t r a d i t i o n a l r o l e . . . There i s no way you can solve a l l the problem (of wife battering) with T r a n s i t i o n houses — you would get blamed, and r i g h t l y so, f o r encouraging the breakup of the family...One month i n a trans-i t i o n house i s f a r too long, you are bett e r o f f to get that wife a b e a u t i f u l apartment with a l l the furni s h i n g s . . . A l l those people 131 there with a l l the problems can't provide a state of mind f o r women to hopefully overcome the anguish and agony she has been through. We would prefer to get her back home and give coun-s e l l i n g . T r a n s i t i o n houses b u i l d up dependency...Our emphasis i s on r e c o n c i l i a t i o n ; a r e c o n c i l i a t i o n can lead to happier union than before. That's f a r better than being party to a separation of a husband and wife and even children....People should go to churches f o r marriage counselling. These quotes, admittedly out of context and taken at random from a video-tape of a 45 minute interview, nevertheless symbolize the attitudes of the men who have t r a d i t i o n a l concepts of power. As Rosemary Brown stated at the FariLly Violence Symposium, "There i s only two things you can do with p o l i t i c i a n s l i k e that — educate them or replace them." This thesis contains ample material to refute a l l the minister's arguments; the l i k e l i h o o d of h i s being impressed by such a r e f u t a t i o n i s remote. Replacement, while not simple, remains the only remedy. Women must have p o l i t i c a l and economic power before i n s t i t u t i o n s designed f o r and by women can prosper, or eventually become unnecessary. T r a n s i t i o n Houses can, i n a l i m i t e d way, provide opportunities f o r women to come to common understanding of t h e i r oppression i n a mi l i e u devoid of men. But they w i l l not give women power over t h e i r l i v e s . Again, recognition of the value of work done by women, and the breaking down of sexual a l l o c a t i o n of work, in c l u d i n g increased p a r t i c i p a t i o n of women i n the pub l i c sphere and by men i n the pri v a t e or domestic sphere, are.means to t h i s end. Ultimately, fundamental s t r u c t u r a l change i s necessary, f o r the int e g r a t i o n of sex r o l e s and true e q u a l i t y of the sexes demand nothing l e s s , (see Freeman, undated, 9-10) On page s i x I quoted a 1971 statement by the o r i g i n a l Vancouver Women's group, the Women's Caucus: The l i b e r a t i o n of women w i l l take more than a few l e g i s l a t i v e reforms. Our oppression i s basic to the smooth functioning of our socie t y as presently organized. Only an organized and determined women's movement can understand what i s necessary and desirable and make i t po s s i b l e . In the intervening s i x years, feminism has grown to include many more women; feminists have grown more p o l i t i c a l l y astute and more convinced of t h e i r own c a p a b i l i t i e s . At l e a s t one feminist i s a c t i v e l y promoting women' issues i n the p r o v i n c i a l l e g i s l a t u r e . But feminism has yet to j o i n women together i n large numbers and across cl a s s l i n e s . Women who are dependent on men f o r f i n a n c i a l and emotional support s t i l l are not free to demand changes which threaten that dependency. U n t i l women can do so, women's power to control t h e i r i n s t i t u t i o n s , and to bring about fundamental s o c i a l changes, w i l l be l i m i t e d . REFERENCES CITED Adams, Neale. 197? . 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