Item – Theses Canada

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Minaker, Joanne Cheryl,1974-
Censuring the erring female : governing female sexuality at the Toronto Industrial Refuge, 1853-1939.
Ph. D. -- Queen's University, 2004
Ottawa : National Library of Canada = Bibliothèque nationale du Canada, [2005]
3 microfiches.
Includes bibliographical references.
This thesis examines the discourses that informed and the practices that characterized the Toronto Magdalene Asylum and later Toronto Industrial Refuge from its establishment in 1853 to its closure in 1939. The Refuge governed female sexuality generally, and working class women who defied gender and sexual conventions, in particular. At the Refuge various discourses around prostitution, feeblemindedness, and sexuality converged and were reified in and through the minds and bodies of working-class women, making it a significant place from which to investigate the politics of gender, sexuality, and governance. I explore how the social censure--the erring female--signified a problematic form of female and called for her control. Covering four eras and the corresponding sociocultural changes that had an impact on the Refuge--from institution building, to psychiatric knowledge, legislation and the arrival of the "expert" in the growing field of female penality--the discussion shows how despite new meanings given to "the erring female" she remained in need of protection and/or punishment. I argue that while the Refuge emerged specifically to divert women away from prison it became not an alternative to penality, but an alternative way to punish women and regulate female sexuality. The thesis provides an important but missing part of the story of female penality.