"Deficient in love-interest": the sexual politics of the office in Canadian fiction

Galletly, Sarah (2012) "Deficient in love-interest": the sexual politics of the office in Canadian fiction. Perspectivas Colombo-Canadienses, 3. pp. 91-107.

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Abstract

Using the concerns of the period over female workers' susceptibility to office romance and sexual harassment as a starting point, this article will explore the depiction of secretaries and stenographers in Grant Allen's The Type-Writer Girl (1897) and Bertrand Sinclair's North of Fifty-Three (1914). It will examine the pressure to gain economic independence and personal autonomy through office work alongside the need to conform to cultural ideologies which still argued for women's ultimate destinies to be centred on marriage and children. Did the 'working-girl' literature of this era support and endorse the image of the independent, hard-working, emotionally fulfilled working woman? Or was women’s clerical labour instead seen merely as another step in their 'natural' evolution from girls to mothers? This article will also uncover whether the fictional office was presented as a site of potential female growth and autonomy, or instead as a hostile and dangerous space that should be escaped as soon as possible for the safety of the home.

Item ID: 36355
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2145-4523
Additional Information:

Abstract (Spanish): Con base en las preocupaciones de la época sobre la susceptibilidad al romance y acoso sexual de la trabajadora de oficina, este artículo propone explorar la representación de secretarias y taquígrafas en TheType-Writer Girl (1897), de Grant Allan, y en North of Fifty-Three (1914), de Bertrand Sinclair. Se mirará la presión para adquirir la independencia económica y autonomía personal a través del trabajo en oficina. También, la necesidad de ajustarse a ideologías presentes en la sociedad, que abogaban un destino predeterminado de matrimonio e hijos para la mujer. Se pregunta si el género de literatura workinggirl de esos tiempos abogaba la imagende la mujer independiente, trabajadora y emocionalmente realizada, o si el trabajo de oficina era interpretado como un paso natural hacia una evolución de niñas a madres. Este artículo también cuestiona si la oficina ficcional fue presentada como una ubicación de autonomía y potencial femeninos, o si fue vista como un espacio hostil y peligroso del que debería escapar lo más pronto posible para mantener la seguridad del hogar.

This work is licensed under an International Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0

Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK)
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2014 06:52
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2005 Literary Studies > 200506 North American Literature @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture @ 100%
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