Motherhood and Suffrage in Early Twentieth-Century Canadian Women’s Journals

  • Rachel De Graaf University of Victoria
Keywords: enfranchisement, colonialism, imperialism, maternal feminism, motherhood


Maternal feminists of Canada's early women’s movements used their publications to define who should be a Canadian citizen and who deserved the vote. To this end, maternal feminists created an exclusionary concept of motherhood that reached from the domestic to the national sphere in order to justify their own enfranchisement and sense of belonging at the expense of marginalized groups—namely women who did not or could not bear sons, women who could not meet popular child-rearing standards, Indigenous women, and immigrants who were not perceived to be white. The exclusionary rhetoric and ideologies put forward by early twentieth-century Canadian women’s journals not only cut off marginalized groups from enfranchisement and national belonging but also further entrenched the social, racial, and gender divides that alienated these groups in the first place.


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Author Biography

Rachel De Graaf, University of Victoria

MA, JD; Student-at-Law at HD Law Group
Areas of interest: animal law; classical archaeology; domestic archaeology; legal history; legal theory


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