Feminism, Law, Inclusion: Intersectionality in Action


254 pages
ISBN 1-894549-45-7
DDC 349.71'092





Edited by Gayle MacDonald et al
Reviewed by Margaret Conrad

Margaret Conrad is Canada Research Chair in Atlantic Canada Studies at
the University of New Brunswick. She is the author of Atlantic Canada: A
Region in the Making and co-author of Intimate Relations: Family and
Community in Planter Nova Scotia, 1759–1


This collection of essays was inspired by a series of seminars held in
Toronto in March 2000 to take stock of three decades of Canadian law as
it relates to women. As Rebecca Johnson explains in an introductory
commentary, issues of difference soon complicated the notion of
universal womanhood that framed demands for women’s equality under the
law in the early years of the “second-wave” women’s movement.
Race, class, and sexuality, as well as gender, needed to be addressed if
the goal of equality was to be achieved. The term
“intersectionality” has emerged to describe the critical perspective
that challenges the false universality that bedevils both patriarchy and
liberal feminism. This perspective informs the 10 chapters in this
volume, all of them relatively short and accessibly written, on
theoretical, organizational, and legal developments in Canadian law
relating to women.

Most of the contributors are academics, lawyers, or activists who have
been involved in legal advocacy at some level, testimony to the
contested terrain that has prevailed with respect to women and the law
since the 1970s. Lawyers Martha McCarthy and Joanna Radbord, for
example, write about their work on the M. v. H. case, which resulted in
amendments to include gays and lesbians as spouses in federal and
provincial legislation, and Marylou McPhedran draws on her long career
in legal activism before and after the Charter of Rights to raise
important questions about Canada’s role in developing international
law with respect to women.

Designed to develop a new discourse on women and the law, these essays
probe and provoke rather than provide a definitive analysis. As such,
they serve as a spirited introduction to the sea-change that has
occurred in how laws relating to women in Canada are conceptualized,
challenged, and framed and will appeal to anyone interested in such
important topics as judicial impartiality, gender discrimination under
the Indian Act before and after Bill C–31, the 2001 Supreme Court
decision that the anti–gay and lesbian policy at Trinity Western
University does not constitute “harm,” and efforts to save
employment equity legislation in Ontario.


“Feminism, Law, Inclusion: Intersectionality in Action,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 22, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/17033.