Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Virgins, Witches and Suffragettes




Here are some random pictures from my blog..Me in Athens and  Isadora Duncan in the same place.

I was scanning for a picture of a woman in Greek Robes with her hair hanging around her shoulders with a baby on her lap,  an advertisement for some product from 1910.

Domestic Goddess.

Couldn't find it. But there are plenty of images of such Domestic Goddesses in the ladies advertising of the 1910 era.

Yesterday I listened to a lecture about the Reformation, where the prof discussed how the Protestants raided Catholic Churches and destroyed or defaced icons of the Virgin Mary.

I attended an Anglican funeral a while back and noticed NO VIRGIN. I usual attend Catholic funerals.


According to the lecturer the Protestants got rid of Mary and took away any role for women in the church, leaving them only the domestic sphere in which to be goddesses.

This explains much about the Cult of the Home in 1910. Read my book Threshold Girl.

I also lately visited the Marguerite Bourgeoys Musuem in Old Montreal. Marguerite was a nun who insisted on getting out into the community.  She fought with the church elders over this. They wanted nuns cloistered.

My grandmother, a Catholic,probably following the example of MB, went out into the community to help out. She fed the poor at her back door, nursed the sick with folk medicines and played cards and prayed with elderly shut-ins.

In the Montreal Protestant Community of this day  AVERAGE women didn't do this.

The Social Elite started up organizations to help out society. The Montreal Council of Women.

At first, pre 1900 that org contained French Canadians, but  they split off in 1907 and founded La Federation Nationale St. Jean Baptiste.

The two organizations worked together, most notably on the 1910 Montreal Civic Elections, but were at odds on many issues.

The biggest divide came in the 1920 era, when many French Social Activists (led by Marie Gerin Lajoie) stopped promoting woman suffrage.

Quebec women only got the vote in the 40's.

This fact is held up to show how 'backward' the Catholics and Quebeckers were, but there is much much more to it.

Some of it is explained on this blog, but I'm going to get to the bottom of it myself.

My grandfather, Jules Crepeau, the Director of City Services, could have had enlightened me. He spent a lot of time on Committees led by these Society Ladies. The City Clean Up League, the Parks Committee.

He also was the target of their ire in 1910. They lobbied to help the Reform Ticket (English) get elected.


I have a few disparate facts that I'm trying to put together for an essay, but I'm not sure how.

 The 1900 feminist movement in the US and Britain occurred in large part because there were so many single women, as in spinsters.

Many of the witches burned at the stake in Europe, Catholic and Protestant, were merely unmarried women with property. (According to an NFB film, the Burning Times.) The state wanted their property.

Catholics often sent unmarried women to live in nunneries... some of which were cloistered, some not.

To keep them out of trouble, I guess.

What I am wondering: feminism came out of the Protestant Tradition, what with universal literacy and such and was ignited by the Quakers, I think.. and Methodists....so would there have been a feminist movement in those days if unmarried Protestant women had had a sanctioned public outlet for their energies?



Read Diary of a Confirmed Spinster, about Edith Nicholson in 1910.