"Do not...do anything that you cannot unblushingly tell your mother": Gender and Social Purity in Canada

  • Sharon Cook


Social Purity was a multi-faceted campaign championing such causes as dress and dietary reform, temperance, abolition of the ‘‘white slave trade’’, adoption of ‘‘a white life for two’’, censorship of much of popular culture, and sex education for young women and men. Recent analyses of Social Purity underline the importance of social control as a motive. However, much Social Purity literature had an evangelical basis; the gender and religiosity of the writers and audience are important factors in understanding the impetus and message of Social Purity in Canada during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.