Friday, September 04, 2009

Mythogyny: Canadian women elders' stories

real lives far more impressive
than myth could ever be

An anthology of personal stories and lessons learned by women elders in BC
Oral histories produced by the Women Elders in Action

* I watched my mother be abused, psychologically, and saw her lack of choices in life and how everything was based on my father’s life. I was conscious of that but I didn’t really see it in my life – I lived it – and while I was living it, feminism arose. And so the words started being there…—Marjorie Drayton

* I’ve had everything done to me imaginable and I’m not an abuser and I’m not an alcoholic and I’m not a drug addict. You don’t have to be what social workers tell you you’re going to be.—Sheila Baxter

*I walked out of the marriage with nothing, he owned everything. But I didn’t have to write him out a cheque at the end of every month.—Colleen Carroll

Available September 15, 2009 from Women Elders in Action (WE*ACT) with financial assistance from the Women’s Program, Status of Women Canada and 411 Seniors Centre Society. To pre-order: call 604-684-8171 x 228 or email:

Read more on Mythogyny. Click on the link below.

Jan Westlund, Coordinator
Women Elders in Action (WE*ACT)
411 Dunsmuir Street
Vancouver V6B 1X4
p: 604-684-8171 ext 228
f: 604-681-3589


Seventy-eight low-income women elders of BC’s lower mainland have oral histories in the new anthology Mythogyny. Thanks to a project by WE*ACT (Women Elders in Action), these women relived dramatic experiences of the 1920s through to the present day.

Senior women who underwent extensive training in interview techniques helped choose the subjects, record and transcribe their stories, and then edit them into a book that had cohesion and nothing unnecessary in it.

What turned out as a predominant theme are the myths they grew up with, especially in marriage, the realities they faced and how in debunking and surviving the falsity of myths, these women lived lives more impressive in their reality than myth could ever be.

The myths uncovered included the shocking discover that marriage is not happily ever after, the idea that $9 an hour is a living wage, fighting myths of racism and that women can't drive forklifts. Also, bomb shelters can be a good place to party.

A number of the storytellers recall “patches of Eden” in places they grew up as they moved in BC like the Doukhobor communities. Some poignant events have also turned up like a woman finding her biological mother who, it turned out, was the caregiver her adopted parents had hired for her as a baby.

Most of the storytellers are now in their seventies, a few in their sixties and four in their nineties. In the course of the book’s production, two have died.

Most turn out to be immigrants from Europe, and England, a few from the US, four from Asia including three from the Philippines. A lot of them live in Vancouver, a number in Abbotsford, Burnaby, Langley, Maple Ridge, Nelson, and Smithers. One or two come from Delta, Grand Forks, Nanaimo, Port Moody, Sooke, and Telkwa.

Mythogyny is the output from a story gathering project called “Lessons Learned: the Lives and Times of Women Elders in BC”, which Women Elders in Action (WE*ACT) undertook with financial assistance from the Women’s Program, Status of Women Canada and 411 Senior Centre Society in Vancouver. WE*ACT is an initiative of 411 Senior Centre. The book will be available in late September.

For more information, call Jan Westlund at 604-684-8171 local 228 or email

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