“'I Weep for us Women’: Suburbia, Modernism, and Feminism in the 1953 Canadian Home Journal Housing Competition.” In Rethinking Professionalism: Essays on Women and Art in Canada. Ed. Kristina Huneault and Janice Anderson. McGill-Queen’s UP, 2012. 194-224.
In 1952 the popular Canadian Home Journal launched a housing design competition for the perfect modern home. A special issue in 1953 announced the winners and provided readers with a wealth of detail on how to acquire a mortgage, assess spatial needs, and decorate interiors. This was the very same issue in which pioneering politician and equal rights defender, Agnes MacPhail published her essay, “I Weep for Women” a withering assessment of the limited options for public life for women. This essay takes as its starting point the apparent contradictions between MacPhail’s critique and the normative, gendered assumptions built in to the Home ’53 housing competition, underscored by a remarkable cover image, in which a manicured female hand puts the final touches on a doll-size model of the winning home. Archival and primary research reveals 1953 to have been an intense moment of negotiation between ideas of gender, modernity, domesticity, and the budding role of women in Canadian architecture.