Chatelaine Magazine by MT

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

7 comments

  1. I find the topic of Chatelaine magazine to be extremely interesting because I am fascinated by how magazines, or prescriptive literature, have historically, and currently, held the power to greatly influence women’s thoughts and feelings. I imagine it must have been extremely liberating for women in the 1950s and ’60s to read articles about issues they themselves were experiencing but that they were unable to discuss due to societal pressures to maintain a façade of normalcy. That said, once Chatelaine magazine had gained a large following and second wave feminism became a more widely accepted social cause, I would think that those women who’s views were more conservative and opposite those of the magazine may have felt isolated in their conservative views. I can see that it would have been very difficult for some women to accept the changes that Chatelaine was proposing. Another idea that I considered while reading this article is that although the magazine was proposing many beneficial changes for women, I wondered whether the changes were being promoted for all women. I may be wrong, but the image I have of the demographic of Chatelaine is middle-class white Canadian women. From the article it did not sound like Chatelaine was promoting racial equality along with gender equality. While I can understand the desire to “take it one fight at a time,” so to speak, I am sure many women of lower socio-economic status or of non-white ethnicity likely felt that they could not identify with the message of Chatelaine.

  2. shelbylee · · Reply

    This was an interesting read for me because I had not previously realized the impact the Chatelaine magazine had on women’s history. After doing some of my own research, this magazine’s role in second wave feminism has been a significant one. Although Doris Anderson was only editor in chief for 20 years from 1957 to 1977 her arguments concerning women’s rights and freedom had impacted society to view women’s perspectives and ideas. Chatelaine served as an education base for society, not only women, to learn about the social issues that were occurring and brought up topics that people otherwise weren’t considering talking about, such as racism, domestic life, and other controversial issues. I would also argue that it was probably primarily aimed at white, middle class women as they were the ones that would have access to commodities such as these in the early 1920s and 30s. However, the overall impact the Chatelaine is attempting to make attempts to cover all issues that women have dealt with, no matter what their race, class or education or income status.

  3. I think that Chatelaine Magainze provided women with a sense of pride and empowerment. Many women did not have a voice and simply complied with societal expectations of women and their responsibilities and where they belonged. As discussed in lecture, many women felt a sense of relief to know that they were not the only ones who thought about these things. By publishing articles about abuse, single mothers and mental health, many women probably felt a greater sense of comfort confiding in others about their personal thoughts on similar topics of interest.
    I feel this magazine in particular allowed women to grow. It allowed them to speak freely about issues that were ‘forbidden’ in public conversations. It allowed women to be educated about the issues that others of their gender were experiencing across the country. I feel it created a sense of unity that women needed during this era.
    I feel a sense of pride when reading about the courage of Doris Anderson because her contribution and bravery to speak her mind paved the way for how women experience life today. She encouraged women to chase after what they believed in and follow their dreams whether that be in the political context or an educational context. This magazine helped women to be comfortable in working towards their goals whether they be in a typically ‘male’ sphere or not.

  4. Katie Geleff · · Reply

    Today, I would consider Chatelaine to be a very “normal” magazine that sticks to the status quo. At my work, they have a subscription to Chatelaine—so, on my lunch break I will read it. The articles are quite predictable. They tend to cater to the stereotypical image of the middle-aged woman. Common topics include recipes, doing crafts, working out and decorating the home. Even looking at the front page of the website now, the magazine features articles on healthy eating, fashion, and even Kate Middleton.

    I find it interesting that the author of this essay states, “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. The writers were able to create articles on topics that women thought about but were often times afraid to voice their true opinions on.” I see few aspects in Chatelaine’s publications today that suggest that the magazine is still pushing the envelope. Instead, the magazines articles fall into a very stereotypical image of what today’s woman should be like. I find this very problematic because it suggests that the magazine is going backwards. Instead of creating a space where women can express radical ideas, Chatelaine has become a place to teach women how to fulfill their domestic duties.

  5. Although this magazine discussed outwardly issues involving women, in my opinion it provided a voice for women when they were silenced by inequality. Though, the issues covered are authentic, they are the reality of a women’s life. It is ignorant to ignore or deny these problems and have women suppress these issues or feelings because it was thought to be improper for women to disclose. The quote, “Not just writing for a change in knowledge, but a change in lifestyle” was striking as it provides a strong statement of this time. Women lived this traditional lifestyle of domesticity, caring for the home and children. Women were expected to live this so-called “norm”, though these issues were no less prevalent prior to this magazine, they were just never talked about. Therefore, the quote upholds the fact that women needed to stand for change, for acceptance, for a voice and to no longer be silenced by inequality and the rejection of recognition in the public sphere. Therefore, knowledge and awareness helps make lifestyle changes and that is what women needed in support of what they deserve.

    In a further article read on Doris Anderson and her incredible work, it spoke of her effort and success in obtaining women’s rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom. This woman changed the face of feminism, as she was a brave and fearless woman who was recognized for raising awareness in an appropriate manner and receiving the proper attention in dealing with issues on women. Though it was interesting when I came across this statement, “She was one of our most effective speakers. She’d go out with her snowy white hair and her strong face. She was tall and stood up straight. She talked to young women about being equals and achieving an equal place in society. They were tremendously excited by her.” Her work is never disregarded but it is interesting in the way they narrate her appearance, describing her face as strong and that she stood tall and proper. Reading this negates any source of femininity in her, so to be successful feminine qualities have not been noticed. Her hair is described as snowy white, not lushes blonde or brunette with her hair pinned beautifully. The choice of characterizing her doesn’t describe feminine traits, which is entirely interesting as a strong face and standing tall pertains masculinity. Women were not often noticed for success and it is very interesting that she was such a remarkable, encouraging and brave women who was accomplished but the narration lacks to recognize her feminine quality. Importantly, recognizing her work was a positive change in this time but if this were a man, any physical comment would not be relevant towards this article.

    Black, Debora. The Toronto Star, “Changed Face of Feminism.” Accessed April 8, 2014. http://www.thestar.com/news/obituaries/2007/03/03/doris_anderson_85_changed_face_of_feminism.html.

  6. kpartri3 · · Reply

    I found this article to be really educational. To be honest, until this course I was very uneducated in terms of the history of Canadian women. Chatelaine was a woman of power and leadership. Without a doubt, Chatelaine is still an inspiration today. I love the fact that a woman had the ability to influence and educate women on such a macro level through magazines and literature. However, an area I found rather disheartening in this article was learning about some of the negative feedback readers made about the magazine. Some people asked questions and commented things like: “Why should a woman receive equal pay with my husband?” and “That women seemed to be content with getting married and being inferior.” In essence, this quote is very offensive. I am glad women have evolved substantially in terms of equality; however, there is a lot of room for improvement. Another point I would like to make, according to the author, is the fact that Chatelaine retired from the magazine only in 1977. In reality, that is not all that long ago! As a matter of fact, my father was 20 years old when Chatelaine retired from the magazine. In essence, women’s’ equality is generally a new phenomenon. I hope that our future generations will meet full equality between men and women.

  7. kpartri3 · · Reply

    I would like to add to my last comment. I found a very interesting article. In the article “Reading Chatelaine; Dr. Marion Hilliard and 1950’s Women’s Health Advice,” the author, Kaitlynn Mendes, did an analysis/reflection on Chatelaine Magazine. I found a few things quite interesting in this article. Firstly, according to the author, Chatelaine is the most long lasting Canadian magazine. Furthermore, Mendes states that the most interesting thing about Chatelaine was that it “Avoided presenting the uncritical portrait of domestic bliss so often found in the postwar mass media. Rather, editors, writers, and readers addressed women’s difficulties in adjusting to modem Uv-5i8 Canadian Journal of Communication and continually debated the joys and challenges of marriage and motherhood.” This statement is very refreshing. Check it out!

    Mendes, Kaitlynn. 2010. “Reading Chatelaine: Dr. Marion Hilliard and 2950’s Women’s Health Advice.” Canadian Journal Of Communication 35, no.4:515-531. Communications & Mass Media Complete.
    http://web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=e36142dd-4ab2-4507-ac89-c68b499e0f7c%40sessionmgr113&vid=2&hid=103

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: