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The Sex Lives of Australians by Frank…

The Sex Lives of Australians

by Frank Bongiorno

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As an Australian, I opened “The Sex Lives of Australians” with great interest, if only to discover what on earth my neighbours were up to at 3am the other morning. I didn’t get a specific answer on that but I did find out a lot more about the sex lives of my countrymen and women.

It seems, for example, that sodomy played a far bigger role in the shaping of Australian than one could possibly mention, and it’s good to see that cross-dressing was a part of European-Australian life from the get-go. And the reference to European Australian history is intended; the sexual history of Australian Aboriginal people is not given an airing.

As you can imagine, early male immigrants to Australia got around the scarcity of women in a variety of interesting ways and it’s interesting to note that many early contraception pioneers were rather eugenic in their outlook.

William Chidley, Australia’s answer to Havelock Ellis, also is mentioned throughout. Chidley meant well but the delivery of his ideas could have been improved, at least to the point where he wasn’t thrown into a psychiatric hospital. Bongiorno also cites a sad letter from Chidley to Ellis, asking Ellis to be his friend. ( )
  MiaCulpa | Jul 20, 2015 |
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Modern times can be unsettling.
James Reece was less fortunate. He was seen by two passers-by having sex with a sow; one of them was prepared to swear 'that he saw the prisoner withdraw his private parts from out of the body of the said sow ad that his semen or nature flew from him upon the hinder parts.'
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Cross-dressing convicts, 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 readable social history, the author uses vivid examples to chart the changing sex lives of Australians. He shows how a predominantly 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. Tracing the story all the way 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 deals with some intriguing questions - were the Kelly gang gay? Why did the law ignore lesbianism for so long? - and introduces some remarkable characters, both reformers and radicals. This is the thought-provoking story of sex in Australia.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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