Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Movies, Sex and a Very Mixed up Agenda 1917


Edison's Kiss. It is true, many many of the century have gotten their 'sex' instruction from the Cinema, but that's not what the Morality Ladies of the National Council of Women had in mind in 1917.

I've read that Edison, who lost the patent war on the cinematograph (or whatever) in 1912 (if memory serves) didn't because one of the major filmmakers because he wanted his films to be educational.

I originally thought that this was just his preference, but after reading this bit from the National Council of Women Annual Report for 1917, I have to wonder if that was just a sales pitch...


Movies are here to stay, admits the Executive of the National Council but they should be taken over the Educational Departments of the Provincial Governments and not commercial enterprises.

Movies is put in quotation marks, which is interesting. In a letter written the same year Edith Nicholson put 'movies' in quotes.

I guess that term was just coming in in 1917, at least in Montreal.

I am going through these annual reports (again) because I am researching Carrie Derick and her part in the Conscription Crisis.

Carrie Derick was President of the Montreal Council, but also Elected Vice President of the Canadian Council. Her point of view had clout, which is why both councils were engaging in the problem of the Feeble-minded, her particular interest.

In the 1917 Annual Report of the Canadian Council there's this bit, linking the Social Evil (or prostitution) with feeble-mindedness, by, as per usual, quoting the names of a couple of medical doctors.





These influential ladies (after all, they are why we had only partial voting for women in 1917 in Canada) believed cleanliness is next to godliness, and quite literally. Here  they put Morality and Hygiene together in a list of recommendations about Education Reforms.


All very interesting. I also have the original documents from 1917 Montreal Council, describing what happened (as they understood it) when Borden met the Suffragists to enquire about Woman Suffrage for the 1917 election. (And with Derick on both boards, this account is probably true.)

In response to a request from the government early in August, women leaders of several organizations undertook to glean from throughout the Dominion an expression  of opinion as to the advisability of granting the full federal franchise to women at the present juncture.  The result of numerous inquiries convinced these women that considering the peculiar conditions that prevailed at the present time in certain provinces the uncertainty of the results in granting a full franchise, it would be desirable that a limited franchise should be given as a war measure, in order that Canada make take full part in the war and remain true to her sacred trust to the Canadian men now fighting in the battle for freedom.



So it wasn't Borden who suggested limited franchise, it was the National Council, their Executive anyway. They wrote Borden, "That tho the claim to the franchise still stands under present circumstances it was waived with the suggestion that the vote should be granted to mothers, wives and sisters of men at the front, or in training, or to the provinces already holding provincial franchise. "

Read my ebook Threshold Girl about Montreal in the 1910 era, the fashions, the suffragettes, the politics.