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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Perceptions of wife-beating in post-World War II English-speaking Canada : blaming women for violence against wives Purvey, Diane


This dissertation is an analysis of perceptions of family violence in English-speaking Canada focusing on the fifteen years after the Second World. As Canadians collectively adapted to the postwar world, authorities urged them to create strong, united families as the foundation upon which the nation depended. An idealized vision of home and family domesticated and subordinated women, and served to entrench and consolidate the dominance of white, middle-class, heterosexual, and patriarchal values. The normalization of these domestic ideals shaped responses to family violence. Three sources were studied and evaluated for their presentations of family violence: popular and academic/professional English language magazines and journals, social work dissertations from the University of British Columbia, and Vancouver newspaper scripts of violence from 1947. What emerged was a remarkable consensus: although domestic violence receives little direct mention, it pervades the sources in subtle ways. Women were blamed for men's violence. Experts and commentators pathologized women who failed to fulfill their "normal" spousal and maternal responsibilities and urged them to sublimate their needs to those of their husband, their family and, indeed, the Canadian nation.

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