Explosive than any Terrorist’s time Bomb: the RCSW, Then and Now
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The Report of the RCSW has been a landmark public document, ‘the public face of liberal feminism,’ a foundational document in the inception of Women’s Studies and the progenitor for the emergence of Women and Politics as a subfield in the study of Canadian politics. Scholarship about the RCSW has relied heavily over the past 40 years on the reflections of two participants, the Chairman and the Executive Secretary, for accounts of what happened and why. This excessively narrow interpretive frame has entirely disregards all but 10% of the submissions, the Minutes of the meetings of the Commission that were supposed to have been destroyed, audiotapes of the public hearings available since 1995, surveillance by the Security Intelligence branch of the RCMP of some organizations that prepared briefs, and almost all of the materials deposited by the Commission with the Library and Archives of Canada. This paper draws on these primary sources, elaborated in “Primed and Ticking, the Royal Commission on the Status of Women, 1970” (University of Toronto Press, forthcoming 2010) to provide a more complete and nuanced account of this formative contribution to the development of women’s equality in Canada. Based on those findings the paper looks ahead to areas requiring further work in order to realize more of the explosive power of gender analysis in the next half century.