Independent women, Problematic Men: First- and Second- Wave Anti-Feminism in Canada from Goldwin Smith to Betty Steele

Veronica Strong-Boag


Femininst movements terrify and anger conservatives. At the heart of the backlash
has existed an anti-modern narrative of a world at risk, dominated by independent
women and problematic men. Canada and Western civilization in general have been
seen as a battleground where anti-feminists struggle heroically for humanity’s
future. This article compares two generations of anti-feminists — those who may
be conveniently labelled Victorians (Goldwin Smith, Andrew Macphail, and Stephen
Leacock) and their late-twentieth-century counterparts (William Gairdner and Betty
Steele). It examines anti-feminist opinions about the origins of the feminist threat,
the role of the United States, the desexing of Canadians, the particular victimization
of men and children, and finally the naturalness of patriarchy.

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