Event / In Conversation
The Sex Lives of Australians: A History
Published by: BLACK INC
In conversation with Hsu-Ming Teo
Venue: gleebooks, 49 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe
Cost: $10/$7 conc. gleeclub welcome
Book: gleebooks - 9660 2333 or Secure Online Booking
Cross-dressing colonists, effeminate bushrangers and women-shortage woes – here is the first ever history of sex in Australia, from Botany Bay to the present-day
In this highly readable social history, Frank Bongiorno uses striking examples to chart the changing sex lives of Australians. He shows how an overwhelmingly male penal colony gave rise to a rough and ready culture: the scarcity of women made for strange bedfellows, and the female minority was both powerful and vulnerable.
Then came the Victorian era, in which fears of sodomy helped bring an end to the transportation of convicts. The twentieth century saw the rise of the sex expert. Tracing the story up to the present, Bongiorno shows how the quest for respectability always has another side to it, and how the contraceptive pill changed so much. Along the way he raises some intriguing questions – What did it mean to be a ‘mate’? How did modern warfare affect soldiers’ attitudes to sex? Why did the law ignore lesbianism for so long? – and introduces some remarkable characters, both reformers and radicals. This is a thought-provoking story of sex in Australia.
With a foreword by Michael Kirby, AC CMG.
‘Remarkable and highly readable’ – Michael Kirby
'A great book, a compound of wit and tragedy, as you'd expect from the subject matter, plus wide learning and common sense.' – Alan Atkinson, author of The Europeans in Australia
Frank Bongiorno is associate professor of history at the Australian National University and the co-author of A Little History of the Australian Labor Party (2011). He was the London correspondent for Inside Story and has been a regular contributor to the Canberra Times.