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The Voice of Women : gendering the new Canadian nationalism Blaak, Ryan Allen

Abstract

Mainstream Canadian national feeling in the late 1960s was expressed through a "new nationalism" that demanded an end to what its adherents perceived as the Americanization of Canada, especially in terms of economics. The Canadian nationalism expressed by the Voice of Women was similar to the new nationalism that impacted Canada from the late 1960s onward. Generally speaking this new nationalism has been understood through its male proponents leaving the Voice of Women and women in general outside its scope and limits. Yet the Voice of Women was clearly a part of this movement. Its concern with community was predicated upon an often overlooked component of nationalism: gender and the roles which flow from it. With the Voice of Women as its focal point, this study seeks to reinterpret nationalism, continentalism, internationalism, and identity through the lens of gender. The goal is not to use the Voice of Women to show the most prevalent or significant form of Canadian nationalism or Canadian identity: the aim rather is to delineate one of many understandings of who Canadians believe they are. In this particular case, who Canadians, as represented by the Voice of Women and its members, believed they were was fostered by gender and its roles for women. Initially the Voice of Women based itself upon a maternal justification which demanded that Canada be a nurturing, motherly figure internationally. Through the Voice of Women's maternalism, a sense of Canadian nationalism was created that saw the United States as the threat to its vision of what the Canadian way of life should be. Shifting its focus from maternalism to equality, becoming involved in a more nationalist opposition to the United States, it ended by becoming as central to the new nationalism as were Gordon, the Waffle, and the other ingredients of that still not fully understood movement. The Voice of Women's very real place in the new nationalism shows that there was another element - gender - working to foster Canadian nationalism.

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