News of strange doings up north has begun to travel south of the border. Last year, a University of Toronto mathematics professor was convicted of “sexual harassment” for allegedly staring at a part-time female student in the university pool. In Weak Link, Brian Mitchell reports that the Canadian military is now 9.2 percent female, barely behind the U.S. military at 10.3 percent.

According to Betty Steele, housewife, journalist, and author of The Feminist Takeover, Canadian feminists have now progressed beyond the American feminists who originally inspired them and are in the process of instituting a full-fledged “matriarchy.” At a time when some conservatives are complacently basking in the demise of communism in Eastern Europe, Mrs. Steele warns that we are rapidly destroying freedom at home. Although Mrs. Steele’s main focus is on her native Canada, most of her argument is equally applicable to the United States.

Up to the publication of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique in 1963, says Mrs. Steele, “the largest proportion of middle-class women on this continent were living in peace in what they believed to be a normal, traditional, worthwhile lifestyle.” Betty Friedan’s book took the lead in convincing women that housewives were worthless—”house slugs,” in a phrase that became popular in the Canadian media. Taught that their traditional lifestyles were symptoms of “male oppression,” uncounted numbers of women proceeded to destroy their relationships with men, avoiding marriage if single or divorcing their husbands if married. Instead of traditional feminine pursuits, they threw themselves into Betty Friedan’s “new life plan for women,” a cloning—and, very often, a caricature—of the male careerist lifestyle.

Taught that they were “oppressors” responsible for the ills of society and the crimes of history, men simply crumpled. In this climate of contempt for femininity and hostility to men, the eradication of sex roles rapidly emerged as a primary goal of public policy. No longer would “house slugs” dominate the women’s magazines. No longer would physically demanding occupations be staffed primarily by men.

Unlike the United States, Canada actually passed an equal rights amendment. As a result, the Canadian constitution now prohibits discrimination based on race, ethnic origin, religion, sex, age, and mental or physical handicap. An additional clause specifies that, despite this prohibition, discrimination is allowed in favor of the “disadvantaged.” Female careerism and childhood daycare are thus effectively constitutionalized.

There is now a Canadian cabinet ministry on the Status of Women. A separate, thirty-member “National Advisory Council on the Status of Women” has an annual budget of $2.4 million. Every Canadian province has been furnished with a “Women’s Directorate,” a government agency devoted to implementing the feminist agenda. The Ontario Women’s Directorate, for example, has a staff of 51 and an annual budget of $8 million.

Canadian feminist organizations have achieved outstanding success in securing government funding. Mrs. Steele’s information in this area is especially impressive: “The National Action Committee on the Status of Women, the country’s largest feminist lobby group, receives $300,000 from the Secretary of State; the Congress of Learning Opportunities for Women, $189,000; the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women, $295,000; the National Association of Women and Law, $100,000,” and so on.

Although Mrs. Steele maintains that feminism now enjoys even greater influence in Canada than in the U.S., it can fairly be doubted whether there is much substantive difference. To take just a few examples: under both Reagan and Bush, the Justice Department has initiated numerous “sex discrimination” cases that go far beyond anything required by existing statutes—most recently against the Virginia Military Institute. The U.S. Department of Defense has been placed under the oversight of DACOWITS, a committee of feminist activists. In 1980-1981, the National Organization for Women received $595,961 from the Department of Education alone, and over forty state governments now include Women’s Divisions.

In Canada as in the United States, affirmative action and comparable worth legislation is now widespread. Corporations are required to endorse and enforce “equal opportunity.” Business is thus forcibly enlisted in the struggle to destroy traditional society. Increasingly, traditionalist views are simply illegal. Woe to the corporate executive who dares to utter a commonsensical preference for men as managers! In Canada, special government funds have been established to subsidize women bringing affirmative action and comparable worth suits. In Mrs. Steele’s words, “Millions of dollars have actually been pouring into support mechanisms across the country, from federal and provincial governments, to enable women to win all their complaints cases, whereas there has never been a penny offered by governments for defense in these cases.”

New divorce laws underline the extent of the changes that have taken place. In Canada, ex-wives receive sole child custody in 85.6 percent of cases, regardless of whether fault was present and which spouse initiated the divorce. Mrs. Steele reports that “Statistics also show that women outnumber men two to one in seeking divorce” (emphasis in original). Like their American counterparts, Canadian feminists have engineered major increases in child support. As in the U.S., these increases are backed up by computerized enforcement and the imprisonment of fathers who fail to pay. Shorn of all authority over his children and forced to work for a wife who has discarded him, the typical divorced man today is less than an indentured servant (who at least signed his contract of servitude voluntarily). Unsurprisingly, no one profits from this system of family destruction. The ex-wife typically finds herself faced with the crushing burdens of single motherhood, the dearth of eligible men, and the lasting desolation of the children of divorce.

As traditional sex roles fade into historical memory, the results of the feminist revolution are coming into focus. In 1973, it was projected that 95 percent of Canadians would marry at least once in their lives. By 1983, this figure had fallen to 65 percent. Since 1968, the divorce rate in Canada has risen 500 percent. Between adult loneliness and the impact of divorce on children, the suicide rate has skyrocketed. From 1965 to 1982, the suicide rate among Canadian teenagers increased by 327 percent. The Canadian fertility rate has plummeted and is now one of the world’s lowest, at 1.4 children per family. (Replacement level is around 2.3 children per family.) Unless buttressed by immigration, government population experts predict that the Canadian population will fall from 25 million today to 15 million in 2050.

The picture Betty Steele paints is not a pretty one, but we should not flinch from it, for it is accurate. As the Francis Fukuyamas bask in the worldwide triumph of liberal democracy, Mrs. Steele comes to remind us that our current arrangements have all the stability of the later Roman Empire.


[The Feminist Takeover: Patriarchy to Matriarchy in Two Decades, by Betty Steele (Gaithersburg, Maryland: Human Life International) 192 pp., $9.00]