Women In Early Colonial Australia: The First 100 Years

737 words - 3 pages

In the first 100 years of colonial Australia women of all status and race were a marginalised segment of society; considered inferior to and for the use and support of men (Summers, 1975), (Dixon,1999). It is not surprising therefore that historical accounts of women’s activities between 1788 and the late 1800’s, whether white, black, convict, or free, are much less documented than those of men. The accounts that have been recorded, however, point to women from substantially different ages, cultural backgrounds, education, health, social stations, and personal histories holding various amounts of power (or lack of) and acting within varied and fluid physical and social environments ...view middle of the document...

Native women were captured and molested, enslaved, governed in Missions, or killed. Some from Tasmania were kidnapped by sealers; and a small few, such as the infamous mediator Trugannini and the fierce warrior Wayler, learned the Brittish language and the rudimentary dynamics of white colonial power and were able to converse, bargain, or cooperate (SBS, 2012).

By 1829 ‘martial law’ has been declared against the natives of Tasmania which began what was known as “The Black War” (SBS, 2012). It legalized the killing of indigenous peoples who appear in white settlements and for a time put a bounty on their heads. This was an extremely dangerous world, especially for Aboriginal women (SBS, 2012, Langton, M.). Two of the most infamous Aboriginal women from this period are resistance warrior “Wayler" and the bargainer and mediator “Trugannini” who had different perspectives, made different choices, and therefore had different experiences with the white invasion and settlement of their homelands. Wayler chose to fight and was murdered; and Trugannini to cooperate and lose her native identity. Ultimately each paid a steep price (SBS, 2012).

In short, women of all status and race in early colonial Australia encountered a harsh male dominated environment in which many suffered from the rape and destruction of their bodies, minds, and...

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