The film focuses on a lecture given by historian Michèle Stanton-Jean who traces the main women’s movements that have marked the history of Quebec women. As in her essay Québécoises du 20e siècle, it is from an essentially feminist perspective that she analyzes the major stages of the women’s liberation movement in Quebec.
A word from Tënk
What role have women played in Quebec’s history? How have feminist movements contributed to raising awareness of the oppression experienced by French Canadian women? What demands and victories for public awareness do we associate with Quebec women’s movements? How have these feminist movements evolved in parallel with the events that marked Quebec’s entry into modernity? Where are feminist movements headed? These are just some of the questions that historian Michèle Stanton-Jean answers with brio in this documentary filmed (to no surprise) by two women, Hélène Roy and Louise Giguère.
At first blush, this documentary short appears to follow a classic audiovisual style (archival images, occasional voiceover fragments), with somewhat of an austere, even outdated, air. Its primary draw is Stanton-Jean herself, who bombards us with information, comments, and reflections on the resilience and perseverance of a small group of activist women (to name just two, Thérèse Casgrain and Marie Gérin-Lajoie) and their followers. We learn that Casgrain and Gérin-Lajoie, influenced by, among others, liberal and reformist movements in France and the US, decided to build their demands around the central issue of integrating women into all spheres (political, economical, cultural) of Quebec society. As such, she highlights the importance of radical feminism in obtaining essential rights that are considered more “reasonable” when presented by more moderate movements. Archival documents (photos, newspaper articles, pamphlets, illustrations, etc.) serve as visual testaments and deepen our immersion into a history that is, at its core, that of all oppressed women (proportionally speaking). Stanton-Jean’s key messages prove their relevance still today, reiterating the importance of building broad solidarity between all women in order to continue fighting for the gains yet to be won.
Associate Professor and co-director of the EPIC research group