Jun 262012

Being Canadian, I’m always interested in Canada’s contributions to the sexual edge of culture. I was delighted to stumble across the story of Justice Weekly, a true crime tabloid newspaper published in Canada that frequently included fetish letters. “…popular topics were discipline, punishment and humiliation of males (especially ‘errant husbands’ and spoiled post-adolescent children) by authoritarian/domineering females, transvestites and authority figures such as school principals, judges and law-enforcement officials.”


From the Carter/Johnson Leather Library newsletter:

The Justice Weekly was an 8 ½ by 11, 16 page newspaper published in Toronto Ontario Canada and distributed across the United States. It had a publication run from 1964 [sic] to about 1972. What made the Justice Weekly unique was its content. The paper covered news that was, by and large, considered far to risqué or just plain sexual for others to print. If a man was arrested and found to be wearing his wife’s underwear, it was written about in the Justice Weekly. If a “bawdy house” was raided by the police, all the details were to be found in the Justice Weekly. Cross dressing, fetishism, S&M all had a prominent place in this newspaper and its bigger brother The Justice Monthly.


Running for the next three or four pages was a “Boy Meets Girl, Girl Meets Girl. Boy Meets Boy” section. I read through the pages of ads laughing at much of the wording. “Sincere couple seeks others interested in topics written in this newspaper”.

Allison Jacques at McGill university has already written a paper(PDF) on the tabloid, viewing it as a window into Canada’s queer/kink subculture in the postwar period. From her grant application:

Chapter 2 focuses on the letters to the editor published in Justice Weekly in the 1940s and early 1950s, which were concerned almost exclusively with corporal punishment. Specifically, the tabloid regularly printed long narratives of spankings given and received. A combination of textual analysis and historical research reveals that these letters are rooted in centuries-old erotic narratives of flagellation and, in fact, bear a close resemblance in both style and substance to stories and letters published in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. While the recurring themes and motifs in the letters of Justice Weekly are nearly identical to those found in historical pornography, they also make a great deal of cultural sense when viewed in terms of postwar concerns about the Canadian family and the perceived threat of juvenile delinquency. This chapter suggests that [publisher and editor Philip H.] Daniels was able to link the spanking letters in his paper to a real postwar panic over juvenile delinquency, enabling him not only to attract readers with titillating content but also to portray Justice Weekly as a relevant and legitimate newspaper.


Particularly from the late 1950s, the personals in Justice Weekly dealt almost entirely with unorthodox sexual desires, including sadomasochism, fetishes, and swinging. Significantly, Justice Weekly‘s column functioned as a rare site where certain sexual subcultures were made visible. The tabloid was not the only source of kinky personal ads in the 1960s, but it was a pioneer in the genre as one of the earliest and most enduring sources. The aim of this chapter is, first, to locate Justice Weekly within a history of personal advertising in Canada (a history that is almost entirely unexamined) and, second, to explore the editorial strategies used by Daniels that allowed him to publish and promote the ads while also distancing his paper from the sexual communities represented therein.

It would be interesting to see the interest in spanking/domestic discipline as an anxiety/arousal response to fears about the breakdown of the traditional family and the rise of youth culture.

As discussed previously, there have been a long series of different publications that host fetish letters, going back as far as the 1860s with The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine, and continuing into the 20th century with London Life and Fads and Fancies and Photo Bits. Note that the magazines with fetish letters are from several different genres: EDM was aimed at middle-class women, London Life at a men’s style audience, and Justice Weekly was true crime.

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