Part I: Why Women Really Got the Vote

Sex and Politics in Australian History

In 1902 the Commonwealth of Australia became the second nation to grant adult women the right to vote on the same terms as adult men, eighteen years before the United States and twenty-six years before the United Kingdom. The traditional explanation for the relative ease and speed of the triumph of the woman suffrage movement is that Australian men treated female claims to political equality in an exceptionally progressive manner. Men’s enlightened attitude to female equality meant Australian women were graciously permitted to enjoy the full rights of citizenship much earlier without the prolonged rancour between the sexes that occurred in America and Britain. This is the “gift” theory of women’s suffrage and it is far from the whole story.[1]

Australian suffragettes campaigned long and hard to overcome chauvinist stigmas against women. The common view until deep into the nineteenth century was that women were irrational, intellectually inferior to men, and unfit by nature to possess the vote. The high standard of the suffrage campaign—from well-run public meetings to the compilation of voluminous parliamentary petitions—helped tear down sexual prejudice by demonstrating how worthy women were to claim their rights and fulfil their duties as citizens. The role women played in changing social attitudes deserves full recognition. But this still permits a significant role for the liberal-mindedness of men. Influenced by the writings of J.S. Mill on female emancipation and education, the exclusively male political class of Australia concluded, long before their British and American counterparts, that women were capable of casting an intelligent and responsible ballot.

In the last quarter of a century, the reaction in scholarly circles against the traditional account of the suffrage triumph has gone far beyond supplementing the gift theory and rightly crediting the positive role suffragettes played. Leading feminist historians, consistent with feminist ideology but at odds with the historical record, have challenged the whole notion that relations between the sexes were exceptionally harmonious in federation Australia.

The “Masculinist Thesis”

According to Marilyn Lake’s influential 1986 article, “The Politics of Respectability: Identifying the Masculinist Context”, the controversy surrounding the women’s suffrage question formed a pivotal chapter in “one of the greatest political struggles in Australian history: the contest between men and women at the end of the nineteenth century for the control of the national culture”.[2]

Lake maintained that a battle of the sexes had raged in the 1890s and was principally fought out in the pages of the most influential magazine of the period. The Sydney Bulletin is rightly renowned for publishing the famous stories and poems by Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson that acclaimed the bushman—the nomadic pastoral workers of the interior—as the quintessential Australian and established the distinctive “matey” national identity with which Australians still identify.

The classic historical account of the creation of what became known as the “Australian Legend” was given by Russel Ward in his 1958 book of that name.[3] Lake claimed that the process by which the legend was forged contained a hitherto overlooked “gender” dimension: the bushman became a celebrated national figure in the 1890s not just because Jack was as good as his mate, but because Jack refused to commit matrimony.

According to Lake, the men who wrote about life in the bush for the Bulletin were urban-dwelling bohemians who projected their own hard-living ideals onto the iconic bushman. By singling out the bushman’s freedom from the responsibilities of marriage as a defining quality, and by revelling in the bushman’s freedom to enjoy the manly pleasures of bachelordom—mateship, smoking, drinking, gambling and casual sex—men’s customary privileges and the conventional sexist double standards were valorised. By elevating the bushman into the model for Australian manhood, the Bulletin adopted a political stance Lake labelled as “masculinist”. Beneath a veneer of libertine sentiment, the Bulletin rejected the competing ideal of masculinity and respectable social values championed by the bohemian’s contemporary bête noire: the social reform movement of the late nineteenth century.

Lake’s discovery of a gender war at the end of the nineteenth century depended on the links she identified between the social reform movement and the wider movement for the advancement of the position of women. Lake maintained that the social movements dedicated to curbing men’s drinking and gambling involved much more than the hackneyed caricature of the Victorian era and were not simply a crusade to impose a sanctimonious respectability upon Australian society. Under the banner of social reform, a feminist-led counter-cultural campaign was waged against the dominant national culture and the associated social evils promoted by the Bulletin. The temperance cause was singled out by Lake in particular as a feminist initiative. Female temperance advocates were determined to protect dependent women and children from the abuse, abandonment and deprivation perpetrated by drunken and dissolute men.

“Maternalist” efforts to protect the family were directly linked to the grand ambition of the “women’s movement”, which was to alter the relationship between the sexes in the private and public spheres by transforming badly behaved husbands into sober and chaste breadwinners. This was to be achieved first by securing the vote, and then by using the ballot box to curb and craft men’s behaviour via legislative measures targeting the demon drink and other vices. According to Lake, the multi-fronted “first wave” feminist campaign to realign the political, social and gender order stimulated the sexualised political conflict played out in the Bulletin. Chauvinist or masculinist ridicule, which primarily took the form of highly stylised and pejorative cartoons, was deployed to counter the threat the women’s movement posed to men’s freedom and authority. In this mode of social and political commentary, the Bulletin portrayed female anti-drink and suffrage campaigners not only as long-faced wowsers, but as emasculators of hen-pecked men and, as Lake put it, “spoilers of men’s pleasures”.[4]

Feminising national history

Critics immediately cast doubt on the precision of Lake’s account of the sexual conflict that allegedly racked the period. Chris McConville quickly replied that class and religious sentiments were the prime motivators of social reform campaigns, which were mainly led by middle-class Evangelical Protestant men, who were determined to protect the nation’s moral purity and eradicate the pleasurable vices of working-class men and women.[5]

Nevertheless, Lake’s “masculinist thesis” has proven very influential. Based on her version of the political and social history of the 1890s, standard feminist histories of Australia maintain that during this period first-wave feminism made gender issues part of mainstream political and constitutional discussions. In Debutante Nation: Feminism Contest in the 1890s, Susan Margarey, Sue Rowley and Susan Sheridan argued that masculinist values dominated the national scene because Australian men took their cue from the Bulletin and joined in the fight to exclude women from the making of the national culture.[6]

Lake’s account has been widely endorsed by other scholars. According to her most ardent defender, Judith Allen, masculinism became the reactionary political ideology espoused by the “men’s movement”, and in the 1890s “‘masculinism’ took to the hustings in accord with the masculine interests embedded in existing sexual relations”.[7] In Martin Crotty’s The Making of the Australian Male, deference was paid to Lake by treating the struggle of the sexes at the end of the nineteenth century as an episode in the national story to rival Federation and Anzac.[8]

What is remarkable is the extent to which the patent success of the women’s suffrage movement in mainstream political and constitutional processes has been set aside in the standard books and articles on the history of Australian masculinity and sexual relations. An obvious question has failed to puzzle Lake and her followers: if men’s reaction to the women’s movement was masculinist, why did men surrender their exclusive political power at the height of the supposed battle of the sexes? 

The Bulletin and the New Woman

One reason for the lack of scrutiny may be the support Lake’s masculinist thesis received from an influential critic. In his book The Nervous Nineties, John Docker criticised Lake’s structuralist approach to the Bulletin,[9] and persuasively argued that it was an eclectic magazine never as obsessed with eulogising the bushman and defining a masculinist national culture as Lake claimed.[10]

But this was not Docker’s final word on the sexual politics of the 1890s. His more complex (but still inadequate) reading of the Bulletin’s attitude to women demonstrated how and why sexism was integral to its worldview.

The Bulletin’s outlook was radical and republican. It was the standard-bearer for the values of the European Enlightenment which it believed had to be applied to all aspects of society if Australia was to become a truly democratic “new world” society with institutions founded in freedom and reason. This project was as much an intellectual as a constitutional one. A means to national development and cutting the apron strings with the mother country was dispensing with the superstitions that kept people obedient to kings and priests.[11]

Hatred of superstition motivated the attacks the Bulletin was prone to launch against (some) women who it castigated as the Enlightenment’s natural enemy due to women’s conservatism and acceptance of the shibboleths propagated by the hated “old world” sources of Tory and clerical authority. Not surprisingly, as Docker noted, a special contempt was reserved for the Woman Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). The links between organised religion and the temperance and suffrage movements meant that even avowedly secular feminist activists attracted the ire of the Bulletin.[12]

Yet Docker’s work also drew attention to the Bulletin’s more nuanced attitude to that cultural phenomenon and symbol of the late-nineteenth-century age of women’s progress: the “New Woman”. The New Woman was the symbol of the agitation for the advancement of women’s civil rights and the abolition of the legal and other disabilities on which men’s power and privilege rested. The New Woman, as popularly depicted, had shaken off the traditional restrictions on her sex. She smoke, drank, bicycled and wore “rational dress”. She entered paid employment, delayed marriage, and caused birth rates to fall. She undertook higher learning in secondary schools and the universities. She also became an easy target for critics determined to be critical. New Women who campaigned against drunkenness and for the vote were lampooned as divided-skirt-wearing harridans, and were sent-up as the “Shrieking Sisterhood” who wanted to dictate social norms to subjugated men. Hence some Bulletin cartoons emphasised the inversion of sexual roles by showing de-sexed New Women beating up humiliated men and forcing them to do domestic chores.

Docker argued that these caricatures illustrated the threat “first-wave” feminism was thought to pose to the sex order. A defensive Bulletin feared those real agents of change, the feminists whom the New Woman symbolised. However, Docker also noted that the Bulletin was ambivalent about the New Woman. Anti-feminist ridicule was freely mixed with cautious approval of those aspects of the New Woman that demonstrated that women and society were becoming more rational.[13] But despite the more intriguing picture of sex and politics he painted, the overall impression left by Docker’s account of the sexual rivalries of the 1890s was generally consistent with the masculinist thesis.

Lake’s second bite

There was nothing nuanced, however, about Lake’s interpretation of men’s supposed attitude to women and the vote. In her 1999 history of Australian feminism, Getting Equal, Lake argued that the extension of the franchise was delayed by men’s hostile reaction to the women’s movement’s campaign to eradicate “whiskey, gambling, seduction, and cruelty”. Because men feared that votes for women would lead to legislation restricting men’s liberty and licence, Lake maintained that the majority of politicians prevaricated, at best, when the issue was debated in Australian parliaments. In Lake’s version of the national history, the Bulletin is the mouthpiece of the men of Australia and its attitudes frame the “gendered” political terrain of the 1890s: 

In its confrontation with the masculinist values of Australian nationalists, feminism was cast as a dangerous threat to men’s freedoms, but the political contest had broader implications for the emerging nation: masculinists and feminists were engaged in a struggle for control of the national culture. The Bulletin held out against womanhood suffrage until 1899.[14]                                                                                                 

If one accepts Lake’s analysis of the connection between masculinism and opposition to women’s suffrage, the chronology makes sense. South Australia was the first Australian colony to grant women the vote in 1894. Western Australia was the next, five years later, in 1899, in the year of the Bulletin’s alleged apostasy. Then—as if politicians took their cue from men’s defeated champion—slowly followed the rest: the Commonwealth and New South Wales in 1902; Tasmania in 1903; Queensland in 1904; and finally Victoria in 1908.

Accept Lake’s account and it is easy to understand why the Bulletin “held out” and why its concession was a watershed. The most renowned “men’s magazine of the era” resolutely opposed woman suffrage because women wanted the vote in order to impose “womanly” ideals of social purity upon society. The women’s suffrage movement included a large conservative and religious wing associated with the WCTU. However, the wider movement included both men and women, was liberal and secular, and consisted, more or less, of the local disciples of Mill’s ideas. But even radical feminists on the left wing of the movement found the WCTU vision of a feminised, domesticated and socially reformed Australia attractive. Women would cast a ballot for truth, temperance and morality, proclaimed the leading secular feminist Louisa Lawson in 1889, and would save men from the iniquities of the public house and gambling den.[15]

Lake’s view is that feminist desire to reform men’s habits as expressed by Louisa Lawson inspired the Bulletin’s “savage ridicule” of all “female interlopers into politics”, and hence the “malice of the Bulletin’s reaction shows how much of a threat this feminist mobilization posed to the dominant masculine culture”.[16]

Temper Democratic­­­—Anti-Feminist and Pro-Suffrage

The problem with Lake’s account is that rather than “holding out” until 1899, the Bulletin reversed its opposition and supported women’s suffrage in 1889.[17] The editorial announcing the change of position admitted to fearing the result, since women of limited education and narrow experience would endanger national progress. Enthusiasm for the cause hardly overflowed. Instead, the editorial reasoned that many men were irrational but not denied a vote, so why should women be barred?[18] Democratic principle hereby justified the experiment. The 1894 enfranchisement of the women of South Australia thus won editorial support on the grounds that it was only justice for women to have the right to be represented in the parliament which made the laws women too had to obey.[19]

What is confusing is that the Bulletin was in favour of women’s suffrage despite strong appearances to the contrary. When women voted for the first time in New Zealand in 1893, the Bulletin noted early reports that women had voted solidly for teetotal and social purity candidates. It therefore predicted “that when the House meets it will at once proceed to abolish drink, tobacco, and sin generally”.[20] The cartoon that appeared on the cover of the preceding edition summed up the apprehension. The divided-skirt-wearing harridan was set to abolish Sunday trains along with men’s sundry pleasures including beer and skittles.

But the subsequent steady course of politics in New Zealand, as events turned out, quickly proved how exaggerated the initial fears were. Hence when the suffrage extension in South Australia was acknowledged the next year, the Bulletin scoffed at the “feeble” humour of the “standing jokes of the period”. The key masculinist argument—the idea that the “Shrieking Sisterhood” wanted the vote “so badly that they would presently devote their entire time to politics, to the neglect of other duties”—was entirely discounted.[21] After women voted for the first time in South Australia at the general election of April 1896, the Bulletin noted that none of the anticipated calamities had come to pass. In fact, a mockery had been made of predictions that irrational females would fall under clerical influence: there had been “no great outbreak of faddism”, the “alleged Shrieking Sisterhood didn’t shriek to any extent worth mentioning”, and the “Cold Tea” and “Social Purity” campaigners had made no gains.[22]

Yet the puzzle remains: how did the Bulletin reconcile support for women’s suffrage with raucous anti-women’s-movement sentiments?

Before 1889, the Bulletin had maintained that women had to be kept dependent on men to protect the stability of society. If the vote encouraged women to become independent and seek work outside the home, the labour market for men would be destroyed and wives and families would go unprovided for.[23] Ultimately, it appears that the Bulletin’s over-arching belief in the fundamental stability of the society, irrespective of whether women voted, tempered fears for the sex order. To understand the change of heart, one needs to appreciate the Bulletin’s (quintessentially Sydney-style) belief in evolutionary progress and its sceptical attitude to “Statist” solutions for social problems. The Bulletin flatly rejected first-wave feminism’s faith in women’s capacity to revolutionise society. It believed that the differences in ability between men and women were real, and that no amount of legislation could equalise the sexes. Only step-by-step progress would improve the position of women.[24]

An archly rationalist belief in “Things As They Are” was the reason women’s suffrage was endorsed with few concerns for the social consequences. This was more than the Bulletin’s democratic reflexes triumphing over anti-feminist impulses. The Bulletin supported women’s suffrage because it dismissed the unrealistic and impractical doctrines of the women’s movement out of hand as posing little danger to existing social norms.

When the mindset of the Bulletin is properly understood, it sheds a different light on the mockery of New Women, such as an “ironic comment [in 1895] on a call by the secretary of the Melbourne Woman Franchise League that men should share domestic work”.[25] The Bulletin’s attitude to the women’s movement was brutally rational. The “Shriek-Woman Suffragist” was denounced not as serious political threat and harbinger of an emasculating sexual revolution (as Lake, then Docker, suggested), but as a “rhetorician” lacking the qualities of the “logician relying on induction, deduction, the lessons of experience, the chain of cause and effect”. Such “savage ridicule” was a form of Realpolitik that discounted what the Bulletin might have called the far-fetched ideological concoctions of few fevered-brained females. “Silly faddists” was the term employed to condemn the leadership and membership of the WCTU. Belief in women’s supposedly innate moral superiority led these women to pursue a futile “mission for a moral regeneration of the universe”.[26] Since there was “nothing to be gained by representing the sexes as eternally hostile”, the eloquence of the Shriek-Woman Suffragist was dismissed as “mere denunciation of Monster Men, vague extolling of Virtuous Women”. [27]

The ridicule heaped on the extremism and irrationality of the women’s movement allowed the Bulletin, in the next breath, to reject conservative arguments against the One Adult One Vote principle. No masculinist objection was raised and the democratic merits of extending the suffrage was endorsed on the progressive liberal basis that “the average women is, or with a little training would be, quite as well qualified to govern herself as the average man”.[28]

Setting the history straight

A close reading of the Bulletin reveals that its attitude to the women’s movement has been misread by Lake and her followers. Based on this misreading, the attitudes of Australian men and the condition of the national culture have been misrepresented. Lake’s masculinist thesis exaggerates the extent of sexual conflict in the 1890s.[29] This is not to say that sexual issues did not play a role during the period. Some activists certainly talked up a women-led social revolution. But we should not take these women at their word nor believe that men did as well. The point is that sex did not matter in the masculinist sense that Lake claimed it did.

Nowhere is this more clearly illustrated than the women’s suffrage debate. The impression created by Lake and her followers is that the radical ambitions of first-wave feminism provoked a reactionary masculinist response as men took to the hustings and held out against giving women the vote. When the suffrage debates within mainstream political and constitutional forums are carefully examined, the masculinist thesis dissolves. What is discovered is that most men supported women’s suffrage because, like the Bulletin, they did not consider the women’s movement to be a serious threat to the political, social and sexual order.[30]

One also finds that the traditional explanation for the triumph of the suffrage movement, with its emphasis on the enlightenment of Australian men, is not completely satisfactory. The process of enfranchising women was a political process, first and foremost. It bore all the usual hallmarks of Australian party and parliamentary politics. The progressive and democratic principles ostensibly at stake were supplemented by plenty of realism, calculation and cynicism.

Politicians opposed to women’s suffrage often made as extreme predictions about the consequences as some suffragists. They predicted that political conflict would be introduced into the home, and “petticoat government” and all its emasculating consequences would be installed over men. The politicians who made such claims deserve to be called masculinists; they thought women’s suffrage was the “thin end of the wedge”.

Hence masculinists argued that marriage and the family would be undermined if the traditional division between the public sphere of men and the separate private sphere of women (which men’s exclusive right to vote delineated) was broken down. Political rights would encourage women to seek paid work outside the home and neglect the care of husbands and children. De-sexed women would also become mannish and coarsened by exposure to the hurly-burly of parliamentary debate. Suffragettes who attended the parliamentary gallery while men in the chamber below debated women’s right to vote were thus chided for behaviour deemed unfeminine. The point of such “jokes” was to highlight how absurd it was to allow women to perform men’s role as electors. Cartoonists drew men holding the baby at home while their masculinised wives addressed political meetings.[31]

Yet the reality was that few men shared these concerns in the 1890s. When Australian parliaments debated the suffrage question, only a minority of mostly conservative politicians endorsed masculinist arguments. The weakness of the masculinist position is the striking feature of the suffrage debates.[32]

The majority of parliamentarians took a progressive view. Liberal and Labor members gave strongest support because they considered adult suffrage the logical culmination of the democratic reforms of the nineteenth century and the next step in the historic fight against all “artificial barriers” in the way of the political equality of all citizens. Extravagant claims made by suffragists and masculinists alike—the idea that votes for women would emasculate men, foster clerical influence, and promote extreme social experiments—were rejected by both progressive and conservative sides. [33]

When leading Victorian liberals Alfred Deakin and W.A. Watt addressed a “monster” women’s suffrage meeting at Melbourne Town Hall in 1899, the Age noted how the speakers had shown that “every one of the arguments still repeated as reasons for depriving women of a voice in framing the laws” was baseless, especially the argument that the “enfranchisement of women would destroy womanliness” and bring on “the political millennium”.[34]

Party not gender politics

The mundane truth is that political and constitutional impediments, not masculinist objections, delayed the extension of the vote. The chief impediment was that women’s suffrage became entangled in the long-standing conflict between the “Tory” forces of the nominated or property-franchised Legislative Council, and the “Democratic” forces of the Legislative Assembly. Party-political and inter-chamber struggles of varying durations delayed progress in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania, principally because Upper Houses defeated the women’s suffrage bills passed by Lower Houses. In the Legislative Councils, masculinist justifications were ritually invoked. But even these chambers were not bastions of chauvinist opposition to votes for women. Wider political calculations lay behind the obstructionism of the Upper Houses, because more than the principle of women’s suffrage was at stake.

Historians who have closely examined the suffrage debates agree that partisan factors determined party attitudes. The key party-political considerations concerned the probable impact of woman suffrage on the mainstream political struggles between City and Country, Liberal and Conservative, and Labour and Capital. Perhaps the most important issue was the impact on the country gerrymander, a feature of the colonial constitutions. Because most women lived in the cities, Liberal and Labor politicians realised that women’s suffrage would exacerbate the population imbalance between conservative-supporting country electorates and progressive-supporting city electorates and increase the pressure for an electoral redistribution in favour of their urban strongholds.[35]

The dominant role played by party politics, as opposed to sexual politics, is best demonstrated by events in the state where women had to wait longest for the vote.

By 1901, the Victorian Legislative Assembly had passed four bills to introduce women’s suffrage, each of which had been sponsored by the long-serving Turner Liberal government. The Legislative Council rejected each bill, and the Assembly was powerless to force the issue because the Victorian Upper House was an elected chamber. The Lower House was therefore unable to coerce the Council into passing any of its bills because the Assembly was unable to threaten to “swamp” the Council with compliant nominees.

Between 1904 and 1908 another five private members’ bills passed the Assembly with large majorities. Only two were allowed to go to defeat in the Council without the support of the Conservative government of Premier Thomas Bent. The obstinacy of the Bent government was based on the fear that votes for women would strengthen the Labor Party. Bent only relented when the rapid growth of the conservative Australian Women’s National League showed women to be a valuable electoral asset in the fight against “socialism”. Political calculation then easily won out: masculinist opposition evaporated in the Council, and in 1908 women’s suffrage passed twenty-three to five, without a division.

In Tasmania, numerous suffrage bills were introduced in the 1890s. Each won majority support in the Lower House but was blocked in the Upper House. In 1903, a reformist Lib-Lab coalition government took up the issue again, and the recalcitrant Council gave in, mainly due to the fact that women already had the vote at the federal level. In Queensland, priority was given to what was seen as the more important democratic reform—the abolition of plural voting. This contentious issue complicated and thwarted women’s suffrage because the Lib-Lab forces did not want to give conservative women a plural vote. The impasse was not resolved until 1904 when the “One Adult One Vote” Bill was forced through a nominated Upper House in fear of being swamped if it refused to relent.

In New South Wales, the Legislative Assembly resolved in favour of women’s suffrage in 1894. Numerous private members’ bills followed, all of which lapsed when not taken up by the government of George Reid. The issue did not become a prominent party-political question and legislative priority for as long as the Reid government lasted until 1899. The Labor Party, the support of which the Reid government relied on, voted unanimously for women’s suffrage after plural voting was abolished in 1893. But only in 1900 did Labor demand that women’s suffrage be made a government measure. Twice the government bill to enfranchise women passed the Assembly, and twice the Council rejected it. In 1902, the nominated and swamp-able Upper House finally gave in to veiled warnings not to reject a measure the Lower House had passed three times.

Part II of this article is here…

[1] For the ‘gift’ theory and rebuttal, see Audrey Oldfield, Woman Suffrage in Australia: a gift or a struggle?, Melbourne: Cambridge University Press, 1992.

[2] Marilyn Lake, ‘The Politics of Respectability: Identifying the Masculinist Context’, Historical Studies, 22 (86) 1986, p.116-31.

[3] For the classic account of the development and influence of the Australian Legend, see Russel Ward, The Australian Legend, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1958.

[4] With regards the premise of this article – the feminist assessment of the suffrage debates – Lake’s original article did not give close attention to the suffrage question. But she did assert that ‘[r]ecognising their lack of power to effect radical change, all [woman’s movement] campaigns converged in the demand for female suffrage’. She then provided examples of the masculinist abuse the ‘men’s press’ consequentially heaped on suffragists. Lake, ‘Politics of Respectability’, p.127-8. In later work, Lake has explicitly linked the masculinist thesis to the history of the woman suffrage movement, and her influential views have encouraged others to do the same. See note 17

[5] Chris McConville, ‘Rough Women, Respectable Men and Social Reform: A Response to Lake’s Masculinism’, Historical Studies, 22 (88) 1987, pp.432-440.

[6] Susan Margarey, Sue Rowley, and Susan Sheridan (Eds), Debutante Nation: Feminism Contest in the 1890s, Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1993, p.xii, xvi-xvii.

[7] Judith Allen, ‘“Mundane” Men: Historians, Masculinity and Masculinism’, Historical Studies, 22 (89): 1987, p.617-28.

[8] Martin Crotty, Making the Australian Male: Middle-Class Masculinity 1870-1920, Melbourne: Melbourne University Press  2001, p.22, who cites in support of this version of the national history the work of Clive Moore, Linzi Murrie, Richard White, Kay Schaffer, and Marilyn Lake.

[9] Docker maintained that Lake too closely followed the Old Left when she mined The Bulletin for the ‘essence’ of the national culture: the result was a blunt Structuralist interpretation which reduced a remarkably eclectic publication to a single meaning. John Docker, ‘The Feminist Legend: A New Historicism?’, in Margarey, Rowley, and Sheridan, Debutante Nation, pp.16-26.

[10] John Docker, The Nervous Nineties: Australian Cultural Life in the 1890s, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 1991, p.240.

[11] Here, Docker was guided by the acute analysis of The Bulletin’s cosmopolitan preoccupations in Sylvia Lawson, The Archibald Paradox: A Strange Case of Authorship, Melbourne: Penguin, 1987,

[12] Docker, ‘The Feminist Legend’, p.52-5

[13] Docker, ‘The Feminist Legend’, p.25.

[14] Marilyn Lake, Getting Equal: The History of Australian Feminism, Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1999, p.34

[15] Docker, The Nervous Nineties, p.16

[16] Marilyn Lake, ‘Intimate Strangers’, in Verity Burgmann and Jenny Lee (Eds), Making a Life: A People’s History of Australia since 1788, Melbourne: McPhee Gribble 1988, pp.152-165, p.161.

[17] In Getting Equal, Lake confirmed the misapprehension her original article led others into. When reviewing the historiography of Australian masculinity in 1998, Linzi Murrie précised the section of Lake’s argument discussed in note 2 and drew a strong connection between masculinism and woman suffrage when she mistakenly wrote: ‘Leading the charge against feminism, the Bulletin campaigned against the vote for women on the basis of their “irrationality”’. Linzi Murrie, ‘The Australian Legend: Writing Australian Masculinity/ Writing ‘Australian’ Masculine’, in Clive Moore and Kay Saunders (Eds), Australian Masculinities: men and histories, Brisbane: University of Queensland Press, 1998. Special issue of Journal of Australian Studies, (56) 1998, pp.68-77, p.70. In support of this claim, Murrie (mis)referenced John Docker’s 1991 account of The Bulletin’s sexism and defensive anti-feminist position. Docker made no such claim about The Bulletin’s alleged anti-suffrage position, but it is significant, in light of what I have argued about the influence Docker may have had on the field, that a feminist scholar used his work to make such a strong and wrong claim

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