Justice Bertha Wilson and the Politics of Feminism

41 Supreme Court Law Review (2d) 33-52.

20 Pages Posted: 25 May 2013

See all articles by Constance Backhouse

Constance Backhouse

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section

Date Written: 2008


Canadian Supreme Court Justice Bertha Wilson reportedly never self-identified as a feminist. Why have people like Justice Wilson, whose legal work has inspired social justice advocates, been reluctant to identify as feminists? Are Canadians today prevented from describing Justice Wilson as a “feminist judge” because she did not label herself a feminist?

Justice Wilson’s judicial career created great inroads for women in law. During her years on the bench, feminist activism changed from seeking formal gender equality and accommodation, to seeking revolutionary change. Justice Wilson played an active role in gender-focused legal issues during this contentious time, and her work appears to have been influenced by feminism. The fact that she did not identify as a feminist suggests that feminism has been misconceived and maligned. The author concludes by titling her a feminist in tribute to her contribution to Canadian women.

Keywords: Justice, Bertha, Wilson, Canada, Canadian, Supreme, Court, feminist, identity, feminism, social, justice, advocate, judge, activism, legal, law, equality, gender, sex, abortion, accommodation, history, historical, biography, biographical, Backhouse, women, law, legal

Suggested Citation

Backhouse, Constance, Justice Bertha Wilson and the Politics of Feminism (2008). 41 Supreme Court Law Review (2d) 33-52., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2266135

Constance Backhouse (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, K1N 6N5

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