Chatelaine magazine was first published in 1928. The magazine was marketed to Canadian women and covered topics such as good housekeeping and proper manners. Chatelaine maintained its homemaking appeal until around 1951, when Doris Anderson began writing editorials. Anderson used her “wit and knowledge about the travails of the ‘average’ woman” to attract readers.[i] With the second wave feminist movement, Doris and her co-workers were able to create a magazine that not only related to the many house wives of the 60s, but also sparked a desire for better things, in all aspects of woman’s lives.
In the 1960s Chatelaine magazine provided a media outlet that supported the true voice of the typical woman. The magazine published articles on topics ranging from abortion to the Royal Commission on the Status of Women.[ii] Chatelaine became so popular during this time because it pushed the envelope on what was considered proper topics for a woman to read, discuss, as well as be concerned with.[iii] The writers were able to create articles on topics that women thought about but were often times afraid to voice their true opinions on. Many women viewed Chatelaine as something that provided moral support for their inner thoughts and feelings.[iv]
Chatelaine featured articles discussing topics that included: abuse, racism, discrimination, single mothers, and women’s health, such as mental illness.[v] These topics were once something that women simply kept to themselves, as the topics were often seen as personal and even shameful. As talk about abuse was once a taboo topic, women were now able to discuss their experiences and thoughts with others who had read the articles as well. Chatelaine was not just writing for a change in knowledge, but a change in lifestyle. Doris Anderson was not afraid to rock the boat, and to many, the topics which she wrote about were equivalent to full on tipping the boat over. However, this did not frighten her because as a self-proclaimed feminist she knew that it was necessary. [vi]
With Chatelaine’s support for secondary wave feminism, women began to become educated and aware of new topics. Ideas like a woman’s political power, or lack thereof was commonly addressed in various articles. “Many women took inspiration from these essays to lobby their politicians, get involved in women’s groups, or rethink contentious matter”.[vii] Women’s new found voice, in turn, lead many to speak up and protest for their rights, such as abortion in 1970 with the Abortion Caravan.[viii] However, women weren’t just educated in political and social issues, but societal ones as well. Chatelaine promoted the feminist notion that it wasn’t just the government policies that were restricting women, but society’s treatment of them. Various articles discussed women’s struggles in finding a place in a world where men were seen as superior. The more issues the magazine brought up the more women began to become aware of the extent of the oppression they were facing.
Although the magazine did speak positively to many women, some simply did not agree with particular feminist viewpoints. Woman wrote in with ideas such as “why should a woman receive equal pay with my husband?” and that women seemed to be content with getting married and being inferior, meaning there is no reason to break tradition.[ix] Anderson saw such woman’s viewpoints as discouraging; however, she received much greater amounts of praise then discontent for her editorial work. As well, not all of the articles in Chatelaine at the time were of a feminist focus, in order to appeal to a wider range of women. This limited the amount of freedom the writers had when creating article topics.[x]
Chatelaine was so important to women because the second wave feminist movement revolved around education, and Chatelaine had the power to educate mass amounts of women.[xi] It was viewed as “the magazine” for women of the time.[xii] Using their great viewpoints and knowledge about current woman’s issues Chatelaine’s staff were able to create a piece of mass media which fueled a movement. Doris Anderson retired from the magazine in 1977 and went on to become president of the Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of women as well as on the National Action Committee on the Status of Women.[xiii] Thanks to the knowledge that was spread by Chatelaine, and created by the Royal Commission on the Status of Women, women were able to feel as though their voice and opinions did matter.
[i] Valerie Korinek, Roughing it in the suburbs: reading Chatelaine magazine in the fifties and sixties (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000), 46.
[ii]Barbara M. Freeman, “When Men Started Listening to What Women Journalist Were Saying”. Media. 07, http://search.proquest.com/docview/211912268?accountid=15115).
[iii] Doris Anderson. Chatelaine Magazine. February 7, 2006, http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/chatelaine/
[iv] Korinek, Roughing it in the Suburbs, 308.
[v] Korinek, Roughing it in the Suburbs, 309.
[vi] Korinek, Roughing it in the Suburbs, 310.
[vii] Korinek, Roughing it in the Suburbs, 309.
[viii] Unit 12 lecture notes, History 2182. Western University, 2014.
[ix] Korinek, Roughing it in the Suburbs, 313-314.
[x]Korinek, Roughing it in the Suburbs, 331.
[xi] Sharon A. Cook. Sex, lies, and cigarettes Canadian women, smoking, and visual culture, 1880-2000. (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2012), 303
[xii] Jordan, Tessa. “Branching Out: Second-Wave Feminist Periodicals and the Archive of Canadian Women’s Writing.” English Studies In Canada 36, no. 2/3 (Summer2010 2010): 64. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost
[xiii]Korinek, Roughing it in the Suburbs, 46.