REAL Women of Canada
||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (April 2013)|
|Type||socially conservative lobby group in Canada.|
|Purpose||advocate and public voice, educator and network|
|Affiliations||An official sponsor of World Congress of Families|
|Website||Official website of REAL Women of Canada|
REAL stands for "Realistic, Equal, Active, for Life". The group believes that the nuclear family is the most important unit in Canadian society, and that the fragmentation of the Canadian family is a primary cause of social disorder. It lobbies the Government of Canada in favour of legislation to promote what it believes to be the Judeo-Christian model of family life, and to support homemaking. It is also opposed to feminism, abortion and LGBT rights (and same-sex marriage in Canada as well).
Its objectives are, according to its website:
- To reaffirm that the family is society’s most important unit, since the nurturing of its members is best accomplished in the family setting.
- To promote the equality, advancement and well being of women, recognizing them as interdependent members of society, whether in the family, workplace or community.
- To promote, secure and defend legislation which upholds what it considers the Judeo-Christian understanding of marriage and family life.
- To support government and social policies that make homemaking possible for women who, out of necessity, would otherwise have to take employment outside the home.
- To support the right to life of all innocent individuals from conception to natural death.
Part of their economic policies to help meet their objectives are increased tax relief for single-income families, families with children, and individuals with children.
The organization has also heavily criticized individuals who have spoken out against Uganda's proposed policy of executing gays and lesbians. While they do not explicitly support the execution of homosexuals, they oppose any effort by foreign governments to deter Uganda from implementing the death penalty for LGBT individuals. On August 7, 2013, the group issued a statement criticizing Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird for speaking out on LGBT human rights issues in both Uganda and Russia as part of Canada's foreign policy.
In January 1983, Judy Erola, the federal cabinet minister for the status of women, proposed scrapping the tax exemption for dependent spouses, including mothers at home raising young children. Seeing this change as anti-family and anti-patriarchal, persons active in the anti-abortion campaign began to speak out in opposition. On September 3, 1983, a group of Ontario women formed what would become known as REAL Women: Realistic, Equal, and Active for Life. Although many mainstream feminist organizations were active in the movement for equal rights, REAL Women was dissatisfied with how women's issues were being addressed, and claimed many housewives felt disparaged and attacked by these organizations. REAL Women was formed as an anti-feminist counterweight to the National Action Committee on the Status of Women. A press conference was held in 1984 officially announcing their formation.
The group claimed initially to have 10,000 members, however this was later discredited. The year following their formation, the group held its first national conference, claiming to have 20,000 members, though this could not be verified.
REAL Women claimed to represent a silent majority of women within Canada. They promoted male-led, single-breadwinner families, and believed that women should be homemakers, mothers and wives. Their views and beliefs greatly differed from the stance taken by the National Action Committee on the Status of Women and its umbrella organizations, and REAL Women argued against the equality guarantees already enacted in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 1987 REAL president Lynne Scime stated that "REAL women want to look at issues such as how a woman can pick a husband to fulfill her needs". They believed that women are naturally nurturing, emotional and dependent beings, suited to motherhood. They use the slogan "equal but different" while pushing for increased tax credits for stay-at-home mothers. The organization denounces the equal rights clause in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and feminist movements and organizations. They argue that government spending and funding of these feminist organizations is undermining traditional gender and family relations. Since the genesis of REAL, the movement has made numerous suggestions on how to augment the options and resources available to families.
REAL is directly opposed to issues that organizations such as the National Action Committee advocate and push to enact. One is abortion, which REAL opposes, claiming it is murder. In addition, the group opposes the idea of the universal childcare model, as they believe that governmental childcare represents a loss of parental control and increases the influence of the state on the family. They argue that the funding would be better spent on things such as courses on parenting skills. REAL also oppose laws guaranteeing equal pay for women, believing that this would reduce the income disparity between genders, draw women into the paid labour force, and improve the economic position of female-led households. They believe this represents a major threat to family values, demeans women and breaks down the traditional family. They also believe that women taking men's jobs will destroy the free market economy. Other viewpoints they oppose include programs to reduce family violence, which they claim encourage hatred toward men; no-fault divorce; and human rights protections for gays and lesbians. The overarching goal of REAL Women is to support the way of life traditionally associated with the 1950s nuclear family and arch-conservative values. Their belief is that their activism contributes to women's equality and will improve their lives. Their monthly newsletter, Reality, mirrors the American conservative movement. It regularly attacks feminists such as Flora MacDonald as well as feminist campaigns.
- "Women's group slams Baird over anti-gay laws stance". CBC News. Aug 7, 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2013.
- "John Baird’s defence of gay rights ‘offensive,’ women’s group says". Toronto Star, August 7, 2013.
- Erwin, Lorna. "R.E.A.L. Women, Anti-feminism and the Welfare State." Resources for Feminist Research 17 (1988): 147-49. Print.
- Pal, Leslie A. Interests of the State. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen's University, 1993. Print. p144
- MacIvor, Heather. Women and Politics in Canada. Broadview, 2001. Print. p145
- Yasmeen Abu-Laban. Gendering the Nation-State: Canadian and Comparative Perspectives. University of British Columbia Press. Retrieved 13 November 2010.
Groups such as REAL Women (Realistic, Equal, Active for Life) in Canada and Women Who Want to Be Women in Australia (now Endeavor Forum) highlighted through their names an implied contrast with equality seekers, who were not real women. Although the initial impetus for the formation of such groups was opposition to abortion, they have taken up a much broader range of issues, opposing feminist influence on government and promoting "family values."
- Tom Warner. Never Going Back. University of Toronto Press. Retrieved 13 November 2010.
They swiftly branched out into Canada to assert a leadership role in the family values movement in this country. Following groups led by Schlafly and Bryant, anti-feminist women in Canada created REAL Women (Realistic, Equal, Active for Life) in 1983. It believes the 'family is the most important unit in Canadian society,' the fragmentation of which 'is one of the major causes of disorder in society today.' Among REAL Women's stated objectives have been support for 'legistation which upholds the Judeo-Christian values of marriage and family life' and for the 'right to life of all innocent individuals from conception to natural death.'
- Vickers, Jill, Pauline Rankin, and Christine Appelle. Politics as If Women Mattered: a Political p240