In the Blog
rita macneil: feminist threat
Okay, so the RCMP spying on women’s groups in the 1970s isn’t totally hilarious, but the idea of them infiltrating Rita MacNeil concerts to catch potential dangerous feminist elements kind of is.
Witness Canada’s Most Wanted Folksinger, in this photo clearly trying to conceal her identity.
Part of the file also described a feminist conference in Winnipeg as “consisting of about 100 sweating, uncombed women standing around in the middle of the floor with their arms around each other crying sisterhood and dancing.” Kind of sounds like a typical Lesbians On Ecstasy show, actually.
What is maybe most potent to me about this story is that it reminds us of feminism’s potential for radical disruption. I mean, I joke about it, but wouldn’t it be cool if feminism actually did play a part in bringing down patriarchal structures, dismantling (or restructuring?) capitalism, and, well, unravelling the messed-up tangle of societal norms? These women believed it could. And so did the RCMP, apparently. (Though not as much as if men had been in charge - one point the CBC article makes is that the federal police did not treat the women’s groups as as much of a threat as other, male-dominated, movements.)
I actually had no idea that MacNeil was a feminist activist back in the heady days of the Second Wave (she apparently represented the Toronto Women’s Caucus at the aforementioned conference). I guess it just goes to show that subversive elements are often where you least expect them. Go Rita.
Thanks to Ted for the tip.