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Heather Jon Maroney
Feminism at Work
The most important political phenomenon of the last two decades and one that will continue to mark the politics of the next has been the development of a new feminist consciousness and a movement for women’s liberation.  In Canada and Quebec, as elsewhere in the advanced capitalist world, fifteen years of ideological and cultural struggle have resulted in the diffusion of the vital sense that women have rights and will not be bound by convention, prejudice or male privilege. Women’s efforts toward collective self-definition have revalorized attributes and activities culturally coded as feminine. This transformation has begun to produce a positive atmosphere for girls growing to womanhood and women of all ages coming to feminism—a reorientation so profound that I (despite an instinctive feminism learned at my mother’s knee as we changed our own flat tyres) could not have dreamed of it in the giggly, marriage-doomed fifties or even in the messianic cyclone of the sixties. This new-found self-confidence has been a source of inspiration for women in a wide range of social struggles and, increasingly, a radicalizing force for women as workers at the place of work. But, at the close of the seventies, although widely diffused, the new feminist consciousness remained uneven, politically embryonic, and in many cases reactive. More even than in most countries, in Canada and Quebec, feminist consciousness, like the organized women’s movement, is fragmented along regional, sectoral and class lines.  Despite real advances these divisions have prevented feminists from developing a collective assessment of past actions or a coherent strategy on a bi-national scale.
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