Media Workers and Women’s Rights in Canada
Hardcover 342 pp.
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Shortlisted for the 2011 Gertrude J. Robinson Book Prize awarded by the Canadian Communication Association
Beyond Bylines: Media Workers and Women’s Rights in Canada explores the ways in which several of Canada’s women journalists, broadcasters, and other media workers reached well beyond the glory of their personal bylines to advocate for the most controversial women’s rights of their eras. To do so, some of them adopted conventional feminine identities, while others refused to conform altogether, openly and defiantly challenging the gender expectations of their day.
The book consists of a series of case studies of the women in question as they grappled with the concerns close to their hearts: higher education for women, healthy dress reforms, the vote, equal opportunities at work, abortion, lesbianism, and Aboriginal women’s rights. Their media reflected their respective eras: intellectual magazines, daily and weekly newspapers, radio, feminist public relations, alternative women’s periodicals, and documentary film made for television.
Barbara Freeman takes an interdisciplinary approach, combining biography, history, and communication studies to demonstrate how their use of different media both enabled and limited these women in their ability to be daring advocates for gender equality. She shows how a number of these women were linked through the generations by their memberships in activist women’s organizations.
Barbara M. Freeman is a media historian and former newswoman who has spent her teaching career at Carleton University, Ottawa. She is the author of The Satellite Sex: The Media and Women’s Issues in English Canada, 1966—1971 (WLU Press, 2001) and Kit’s Kingdom–The Journalism of Kathleen Blake Coleman (1989).
“Beyond Bylines, as Barbara Freeman notes, is the first book to provide a sustained account of gender struggles and women’s roles in Canadian media history (p. 3). Freeman’s approach will captivate Canadian readers interested in the growth of media and feminism in our country; on a chapter-by-chapter basis, it should be useful to scholars beyond our borders interested in particular figures, movements, or media forms.... Freeman’s book provides a solid starting place for examining women and media in Canada, and she offers it as a generative rather than definitive ‘way of opening up research in the field and encouraging others to do the same.’... [H]er approach combines biography and discourse analysis within a journalism studies, media, and women’s history perspective. This is a rich mix. Her seven chapters avoid well-know activists to craft portraits of lesser-known figures.... In the end, the book can serve as a pull-apart reference for readers interested in particular figures or decades. This pull-apart feature may be particularly useful for scholars outside Canada with limited investment in understanding the historical trajectory of women in our national media. For Canadians, reading the entire volume provides insight into the cultural history of women’s advocacy through changing issues and forms of media.”
— Jaqueline McLeod Rogers, Feminist Media Studies
“Although the essays that comprise Beyond Bylines explore remarkably different terrain, from the pre-suffrage era to the present and from mainstream to alternative print, to radio and film, together they mark major milestones in the progress of women’s rights and women’s status as media workers. Keeping a tight focus on each unique voice, Freeman reveals the balancing act her subjects maintained as they weighed personal and professional success against the constraints of their social and historical contexts and the demands of the causes they embraced.”
— Marjory Lang, Langara College, Vancouver, BC
“In this meticulously researched collection of seven essays, Freeman, a former broadcaster and long-time journalism educator at Carleton, uses a case-study approach to consider female media workers who ‘reached beyond the glory of their personal bylines’ to push boundaries and further the feminist cause. No one is more suited than Freeman to examine the subject. She led the way for journalism historians in Canada with her seminal 1989 biography of female pioneer Kathleen Blake Coleman (Kit’s Kingdom).... Freeman states in the introduction to the book that she did not intend to write a comprehensive history of women media workers. Rather, she notes, she ought to highlight only a few women as a way of encouraging other media scholars to do the same. Much as she opened the door for scholars interested in our journalistic foremothers with her biography of Kit Coleman, Freeman has succeeded in opening the door wider by considering a range of female media workers from different eras and backgrounds in Beyond Bylines.”
— Linda Kay, University of Toronto Quarterly
“In this volume, Barbara Freeman explores how a fascinatingly varied group of prominent and lesser-known female journalists in Canada negotiated the tension between ‘conventional journalism and advocacy’ over more than 130 years. Their perspectives ranged from cautious Christian feminism to Marxism-Leninism; the issues they addressed included everything from women’s fashion in the 1890s to lesbian sexuality; they worked in mainstream newspapers, public broadcasting, alternative publications, and documentary filmmaking. What unites them is Freeman’s sympathetic and deeply-informed attention to how they all, in one way or another, sought to advance women’s interests while struggling to make room for themselves in the Canadian journalistic landscape.”
— Gene Allen, Ryerson University
“Barbara Freeman’s Beyond Bylines: Media Workers and Women’s Rights in Canada ... explores the complex role played by Canadian women journalists, broadcasters, and media workers in the struggle for women’s rights in Canada. Combining biography and media history, the book painstakingly documents the lives and work of a broad range of feminist media practitioner-activists across the platforms of newspapers, magazines, broadcasting, public relations and documentary filmmaking. The jury praised this book’s important contribution to the ongoing project of exposing the rich legacy of feminism and women in the history of Canadian social movements and media.”
— Jury assessment for the Gertrude J. Robinson award (CCA)
“‘Every woman’s byline is the distinctive signature of her work in the media’ (p. 213), proclaims Barbara Freeman in her provocative and pioneering book. In seven chapters ... she details biographical studies of Canadian woman media workers from the late 19th century to the early 21st century whose passions and activism influenced, challenged, and changed both the representation and working realities of women journalists. Freeman’s lively biographical sketches situate Canadian women’s media work within a socio-historical and cultural context, serving to resurrect obscure histories and draw attention to contemporary work.... Freeman’s book is situated within ... a burgeoning critical scholarship in communication studies that takes labour as its focal point.... Freeman’s focus in this book on women media workers and advocates, coupled with her feminist perspective, is thus a welcome and necessary intervention to this scholarship. Thanks to her, the unique histories of women cultural workers have been captured and inspire current and future generations of women media workers.”
— Leslie Regan Shade, Concordia University, Journalism: theory, practice and cricitism
“In Beyond Bylines Barbara Freeman introduces scholars and students of history, journalism, communication studies and women’s/gender studies to a delightful lineup of feminist foremothers including writers, broadcasters and filmmakers. In seven lively biographical essays spanning more than a century, the reader encounters a cast of diverse women whose media work in print, over the air waves, and on the screen challenged the status quo and advanced women’s issues of the day. These essays are sure to spark lively discussion in the classroom and beyond. No doubt those conversations will centre on questions of women and activism, both past and present, but they might also lead to reflection on what comes next as feminists ponder their media and their message.”
— Linda Ambrose, Laurentian University, Sudbury, ON
By the same author
Satellite Sex, The: The Media and Women’s Issues in English Canada, 1966-1971, Barbara M. Freeman