History of Sexuality Essay Example

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History of Sexuality: White Men, Aboriginal Women, Aboriginal Men, White Women

  1. Why, according to Victoria Haskins and John Maynard, were sexual relationships between Aboriginal men and white women ‘profoundly destabilising’

Documentations on sexual relationships between Aboriginal men and white women are obscure but Haskins and Maynard manages to use the scanty archival evidence to analyse these relationships. In this essay, I answer why Haskins and Maynard believed that sexual relationships between Aboriginal men and white men were ‘profoundly destabilising.

Sexual relationships between white women and Aboriginal men were destabilising on the basis of racial divisions, class and gender (Haskins and Maynard 196; McClintock 225). The white colonialists perceived their superiority through possessing and being in charge of the Aboriginal land and people (Robert 73). The white’s home was seen as a private space for female domesticity in which the white woman was protected from natives’ cultural vices (Stoler 640). It was unspeakable for a woman from a white family to enter a sexual relationship with a disempowered Aboriginal man. Some white women from wealthy families experienced repression from their patriarchal cultures and were severely punished for exhibiting masculine habits, for instance horse-riding with legs apart (Haskins and Maynard 196). Some resisted the patriarchal repression and fled to black camps where they were treated kindly, but their filial resistance was interpreted as a disorder, dirt, and possession of animalistic desires (Haskins and Maynard 196).

White men forbade their women to have sexual relations with Aboriginal men and this was enabled through agency and control rather than a matter of personal choice (Haskins and Maynard 197-8). White women could not establish an open relationship with Aboriginal men because they would be considered as betraying the purity of their race and rendering the white man impotent (Haskins and Maynard 199). In cases where white women were suspected of having relationships with the native men, other interpretations were formulated to cover for this, including rape, mental illness, or a need to unearth important information (Haskins and Maynard 198).

In conclusion, white women could not have stable, meaningful sexual relationships with Aboriginal men because it would de-culturalise and demean the white society before the natives who were perceived to be innately sexually amoral and weak. White women spotted in closeness with Aboriginal men were considered raped, wild, having a mental disorder, or having another purpose rather than sex. Women’s affairs were exclusively determined by the patriarchal agency of the white society.

Works Cited

Haskins, Victoria and John Maynard. ‘Sex, Race and Power: Aboriginal Men and White Women in Australian History’, Australian Historical Studies, 36.126 (2009): 191- 216.

McClintock, Ann. Imperial leather: Race, Gender and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest. Journal of Historical Studies, 4(2006):31-36.

Robert, Hannah. ‘Disciplining the Female Aboriginal Body: Inter-racial Sex and the Pretence of Separation’, Australian Feminist Studies, 16.34 (2001): 69-81.

Stoler Ann. Making Empire Respectable: The politics of Race and Sexual Morality in 20th— Century Colonial Cultures. American Ethnologist, 634-652.