Lawyering the Feminist Revolution
by Linda Silver Dranoff
Second Story Press
A Feminist History Society Book
An eyewitness account of the revolution in women’s rights under the law
Lawyer, activist, and former Chatelaine legal columnist Linda Silver Dranoff details her own trailblazing journey from a traditional 1950s childhood to the battlegrounds of the courts of law and the halls of power where she and a generation of women lawyers, supporting a larger feminist movement, championed the rights of Canadian women and families.
Through a combination of memoir and social history, Dranoff brings to life the struggles around family law, pay and employment equity, violence against women, abortion rights, childcare, pension rights, political engagement, public policy, and access to legal justice. From backroom battles to public and private protest, the stories are inspiring.
Fairly Equal reminds us of the importance of remaining vigilant about our rights. Knowing what Dranoff’s generation of women lawyers and activists achieved, and how easily it can be taken away, we are encouraged in sisterhood and solidarity to ensure that the many hard-won gains of the feminist movement are maintained and expanded for the women who follow.
What people are saying about the book:
"Linda Silver Dranoff has made us a great gift in this book. So if you can do no more than
this, then do this: Go out and get the book and give it to young eyes to read. I was there. I lived
through this. Now see what you can do."
- From the review by Darlene Madott in Supreme Advocacy, May 2019
"What a rich memoir of Canada’s feminist transformation—naming names and nailing the stories—from the brilliant, gutsy lawyer who was in the thick of the revolution!”
- Michele Landsberg, journalist, activist, author of Writing the Revolution
“This truth-telling book brims with wisdom for every woman who sees injustice and asks herself ‘What can I do?’ Linda Silver Dranoff, a lifelong change agent, is the perfect role model for a new generation of feminists.”
- Rona Maynard, former Chatelaine editor, author of My Mother’s Daughter
“Linda Silver Dranoff has that elusive ‘it’ factor when it comes to telling stories. They are invariably about the law, women’s rights, and about her, and in fact about you. But she strings them all together in memorable, important (sometimes cheeky, sometimes hilarious) anecdotes that leave you smiling and way better informed and somehow bolder and kinder. Like her other books, this one is another Dranoff gem.”
- Sally Armstrong, journalist and human rights activist
"A most extraordinary account of the women’s movement in Canada through the last 60-plus years. Linda deserves so much recognition for her tremendous efforts in the evolution of the rights that women enjoy today."
- Claire L’Heureux-Dubé, retired justice of the Supreme Court of Canada
“Fairly Equal is a wonderful history of the challenges, the advocacy, and the progress that women in Ontario and Canada have made to achieve equality. Linda is an excellent storyteller, an activist, and an advocate. Her story is a must read and her achievements are amazing.”
- Elinor Caplan, former MPP, MP, and cabinet minister (Liberal Party of Ontario and Canada)
“Women’s rights activists beginning in the 1960s reshaped Canadian society – often in ways we now find imperceptible. From her role at centre stage, including in the struggle for family law reform, Linda Silver Dranoff writes a lively account of history in the making. She demonstrates convincingly that one person can indeed make a difference.”
- Sylvia Bashevkin, professor, Department of Political Science, University of Toronto
“We stand on her shoulders, those of us who followed Linda into the practice of law. Indeed, Linda has been a role model, showing us how lawyers can be powerful agents of social change. Her story, beautifully detailed here, reveals many of Linda’s personal characteristics – determination, courage, and pure intellectual power – that have allowed her to play such an important role in the fight for women’s equality in this country. And now, as Linda says, it is over to us.”
- Janice Rubin, co-founder/co-managing partner, Rubin Thomlinson LLP
“Part her personal memoir and part a history of the struggle for women’s rights in Canada, Linda Silver Dranoff’s Fairly Equal charts the significant challenges of engaging in feminist legal work and organizations promoting women’s rights during her four decades as a ‘second wave’ feminist lawyer. Indefatigable in the face of some disappointments, Dranoff reveals how legal reforms in the interests of women, particularly in family law, required a lifelong commitment to engagement with women – and men – in positions of power, as well as hours and hours and hours of hard work. In concluding that she was ‘blessed to live at a time when positive change was possible,’ her book reveals both the history of women in Canada in the late 20th century – and their connections to so many women whose pioneering lives created the foundations for our current achievements.”
- Mary Jane Mossman, Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School
"Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, Fairly Equal is very highly recommended, especially for community and academic library Women's Studies and Contemporary American Biography collections."
- Midwest Book Review
"...A critical reminder of how far Canadian women have come, as well as a warning to remain vigilant and safeguard hard-earned victories."
- Publisher's Weekly
"Part legal history book, part memoir, and part “how-to” guide on activism, it was a quick, entertaining, and inspiring read. Ms. Silver Dranoff reveals a behind the scenes look at political maneuvering, how laws are really made, grass roots movements, and most importantly, she shows the impact that one woman working within a sisterhood of supportive women can make on the inequities in our society. She also provides helpful career advice and concrete steps for the next generation of feminist lawyers. This should be mandatory reading for all law students."
- Erin Cowling, www.cowlinglegal.com/blog
"Fairly Equal is enjoyable to read: polished, concise and written in a conversational style with meticulous attention to detail…Dranoff’s blow-by-blow descriptions could serve as a manual for how to lobby for social change…[This] engaging memoir shows a trailblazing feminist in action, carving gender equity into the law to protect women and to create a more caring and just society for all."
"Older feminists should read this well-written, engaging book because it is like a romp through times that we have lived and struggled through and a reminder of the history of our women’s movement…Younger feminists should read Fairly Equal to gain a sense of how much things have changed due to feminist resistance and persistence, what things have not changed, and what still needs to be achieved…Dranoff’s life provides a model for feminist lawyering that is not confined to the law office, fully engaged as she has been with trying to change so many conditions of inequality that have characterized the past few decades and still do."
- From the review by Susan B. Boyd in the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law, Vol. 30, No. 1, 2018
"Fairly Equal resonates with the reader on two levels: as a personal memoir of a woman lawyer in a male-dominated world and as a historic account of the era of second wave feminism in Canada, marked by the revolution of women’s rights under the law…[It} describes the remarkable changes resulting from the Canadian women’s liberation movement and its pursuit of equality and fairness for women, removing barriers and ensuring access to justice."
- From the review by Archana Medhekar in the AFCC-O Fall 2017 Newsletter and reprinted in Peel Briefs (Peel Law Association), Winter 2017