Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.13/926947
- Colonial constructions of masculinity: transforming Aboriginal men into 'houseboys'
- The University of Newcastle. Faculty of Education & Arts, School of Humanities and Social Science
- In Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia, Aboriginal men made up more than half of the domestic servant population by 1938. They replaced the Chinese and Malay male servants who had worked for British colonists in the early colonial period. Much of the historical work on male domestic servants in colonial situations plots the construction of the ‘houseboy’ as emasculated, feminised and submissive. In contrast, colonial constructions of Aboriginal men as ‘houseboys’ in Darwin emphasise the masculinity of the Aboriginal hunter. Aboriginal men were characterised as requiring constant discipline and training, and this paternalistic discourse led to a corresponding denial of manhood or adulthood for Aboriginal men. While male domestic servants in other colonial settings were allowed some privileges of masculinity in relation to female workers, amongst Aboriginal domestic workers, it was so-called ‘half-caste’ women who, in acknowledgment of their ‘white blood’, received nominally higher wages and privileges for domestic work. Aboriginal men were denied what was referred to as a ‘breadwinning’ wage; an Australian wage awarded to white men with families. Despite this, their role as husbands was encouraged by the administration as a method of controlling sexual relations between white men and Aboriginal women. These sometimes contradictory images can be understood as manifestations of the racialised construction of gender in Australia.
- Gender and History Vol. 21, Issue 2, p. 305 - 323
- Publisher Link
- Resource Type
- journal article