Racism and Sexism in Australian National Life


  • Marie de Lepervanche


In most discussions on racism -whether these concentrate on definitions, on the origins or history of racism, its association with capitalism, im-migrant labour, nationalism or even with right wing politics-there is very little mention of the complex relation between racism and sexism. The ex-ceptions in Australia are in a few sociological writings (~ollins, 1984) and within the feminist literature (Curthoys, 1975; Gordon, 1975; Saunders, 1982; Aveling, 1985). Gordon's comments provide an example;


The oppression of women is closely interwoven with notions of race. In Australia ... the desire for a high birthrate and the maintenance of racial strength and purity have long been national priorities ... Con-comitant with the cry 'to populate or perish', the decimation and con-tainment of Aborigines and the exclusion and restriction of non-white immigrants, has been the confinement of women to their reproductive functions. White women in Australia have been viewed primarily as breeders of the Anglo-Saxon strain ... (Gordon, 1975:40). 


There is plenty of evidence to support Gordon's claim althongh man) women have resisted these patriarchal ccmands.