Murphy, MacMurchy, and McClung: The Intersection of Eugenics and First-Wave Feminism
Emily Murphy , Nellie McClung , Helen MacMurchy , First Wave Feminism , Maternal Feminism , Eugenics
Feminists during the first wave made a significant contribution to Canadian society by promoting women’s equality. They worked towards better treatment for women through reforms that included the right to vote and dealt with societal issues such as drug abuse and alcoholism. However, there was a clear racial motivation underlying much of first-wave feminism. The prevalent racial ideology at the time was that only those with Anglo-Saxon ancestry were suitable candidates for Canada’s nation-building efforts. This made Canadian society an ideal setting for the adoption and spread of the ideas promoted by the eugenics movement. Whether or not first-wave feminists explicitly considered themselves eugenicists, they were nonetheless influenced by the movement to various degrees because of the eugenics’ prevalence and the racial climate of their day.