History

The Mistreatment of Women in Aboriginal Society

“The treatment which women experience must be taken into account in considering the causes which lead to the extinction of the native tribes. Amongst them the woman is an absolute slave. She is treated with the greatest cruelty and indignity, has to do all laborious work, and to carry all the burthens [sic]. For the slightest offence or dereliction of duty, she is beaten with a waddyu or yam stick and not infrequently speared. The records of the Supreme Court in Adelaide furnish numberless instances of blacks being tried for murdering lubras. The woman’s life is of no account if her husband chooses to destroy it, and no one ever attempts to protect or take her part under any circumstances. In times of scarcity of food, she is the last to be fed, and the last considered in any way. That many die in consequence cannot be a matter of wonder …”
                          — George Taplin, The Native Tribes of South Australia, 1878

“After marriage, the women are compelled to do all the hard work of erecting habitations, collecting fuel and water, carrying burdens, procuring roots and delicacies of various kinds, making baskets for cooking roots and other purposes, preparing food, and attending to the children. The only work men do, in times of peace, is to hunt for opossums and large animals of various kinds, and to make rugs and weapons.”
                     –James Dawson, Australian Aborigines: The Language and Customs of Several  Tribes of Aborigines in the Western District of Victoria, 1881

“A great man, or ‘turrwan’, might have two or three or even four wives … They were useful in carrying burdens from one place to another. A woman, because she was a woman, always carried the heaviest load. A man took his tomahawk, his spear, and waddy, and that sort of thing; a woman humped along with the weighty kangaroo and ’possum skin coverings, the dillies with eatables, and sometimes also a heavy little piece of goods in the form of a child. At times, too, she would carry tea-tree bark on her back for the humpies [makeshift tents], while ever and anon as they travelled along the men enjoyed themselves hunting and looking for ‘sugar bags’ (native bees nests), etc.”
                      — Tom Petrie’s Reminiscences of Early Queensland, 1904

“In 1849 I saw a battle where about 500 of the Narrinyeri met some 800 of the Wakanuwan, and it was very evident that if the conflict had not been stopped by the colonial authorities the Narrinyeri would have been signally defeated by their opponents. They bore a special enmity to [their opponents] because these latter had a propensity for stealing fat people and eating them. If a man had a fat wife, he was always particularly careful not to leave her unprotected, lest she might be seized by prowling cannibals.” 
                     — George Taplin, The Narrinyeri: An Account of the Tribes of South Australian Aborigines

“The natives told me that some twenty years before I came to Port Macleay they first saw white men on horseback, and thought that the horses were their visitors’ mothers, because they carry them on their back! I have also heard that another tribe regarded the first pack-bullocks they saw as whitefellows’ wives, because they carried the luggage!”  — Taplin, ibid., p. 68, footnote

“If a man has several girls at his disposal he speedily obtains several wives who, however, very seldom agree well with each other, but are continually quarrelling, each endeavouring to be the favourite. The man, regarding them as mere slaves than in any other light, employs them in every possible way to his own advantage. They are obliged to get shellfish, roots, and eatable plants. If one [man] from another tribe should arrive having anything he desires to purchase, he perhaps makes a bargain to pay by letting him have one of his wives for a longer or shorter period.” — H.E.A. Meyer, Manners and Customs of the Aborigines of the Encounter Bay Tribe, South Australia, in Taplin, ibid., p. 191.)

Virtually every white observer of Aboriginal life in colonial Australia remarked on the endemic and often shocking mistreatment of women almost invariably found in Aboriginal tribes throughout Australia. Women were treated as little better than animals, if that. Women did have a role in tribal life, as gatherers of plant foodstuffs to complement the meat killed and brought to their camps by the men, but, apart from this, and apart from their role as mothers and as cooks, women did most of the heavy carrying as the nomadic tribes moved from place to place in search of food and water. Women’s role as human pack animals—in a society where there were, of course, no beasts of burden or wheeled vehicles—was also invariably noted and condemned by white observers.

But it gets much worse, as the following stomach-churning quotations by well-qualified white observers make clear:

“The First Ceremonial (Female) in the Boulia District: Among the Pitta Pitta and neighbouring tribes … a young girl when she begins to show signs of puberty … Two or three men manage to get the young woman, when ripe enough, all alone by herself away in the bush, and, throwing her down, one of them forcibly enlarges the vaginal orifice by tearing it downwards with the first three fingers round and round with opposum-string … Other men come forward from all directions, and the struggling victim has to submit in rotation to promiscuous coition with all the ‘bucks’ present: should any sick individual be in camp, he would drink the bloody semen collected from her … Among the Ulaolinya, as well as the tribes around Glenormiston, any ordinary corrobboree [sic] is held during the day-time, and the young woman who has been fixed upon … is decoyed by some old woman to come outside the main body of the camp for the purpose of collecting pappa-seeds, etc. She is stealthily followed by two or three men who suddenly pounce upon her, seize her by the wrists while the other bucks, till now in ambush, come rushing upon the scene: she at once realizes her position, and, despite all shrieks and intreaties, is thrown upon her back on the ground, the old chaperone clearing away to a distance. Four ‘bucks’ hold one to each limb while another presses upon her so as to compel her to draw her legs up: her thighs are now drawn apart and her eyes covered so as to prevent her seeing the individual, probably a very old man, who is beckoned from some hiding place to come and operate directly. Everything is now ready. This he does by slitting up a portion of the perineum with a stone-knife, and sweeping his three fingers round inside the vaginal orifice.” — Walter Edmund Roth, Ethnological Studies Among the North-West-Central Queensland Aborigines, Brisbane, 1897, p. 174; cited in part in Louis Nowra, Bad Dreaming: Aboriginal Men’s Violence Against Women and Children,

“When a betrothed girl is of a marriageable age, the man to whom she is promised, having received her father’s consent, or even that of her mother, which would suffice, took her away when she was out from the camp with the other women … He was accompanied by a comrade … Having seized her, they dragged her away, she screaming and biting as much as she was able to … No one interfered, the other women looking on and laughing … The marriage was then consummated by the Abaijas [relatives], who remained with her for one or two days of ceremonial dancing, during which there was between her and the men of the camp unrestrained license, not even excluding her father.”
                 — A.W. Howitt, The Native Tribes of South-East Australia, 1904, p. 193, cited in Nowra

Violence against women was thus endemic and pervasive in Aboriginal society. It was witnessed, reported on, often in graphic detail, and condemned by dozens of white observers. Nearly all of them, it must be noted, were highly sympathetic to the Aborigines and often devoted years of their lives to living with them and improving their condition. The books they wrote also show that they were careful and scientific observers of Aboriginal life; many of the books contain detailed accounts of the local Aboriginal languages (often our only record of these now extinct tongues), of their extremely complex kinship and marriage laws, and of their myths and lifestyles.

While it is self-evident that these abominations against women were unknown in the English-speaking world—or indeed, anywhere in the Western world—one aspect of the utterly categorical differences between the West and Australian Aboriginal society was the realistic possibility of growth and improvement which existed in the West but was utterly lacking in Aboriginal society. Their society was wholly static, and without improvement or change, for the whole of its 40,000-year history prior to the coming of the white man. In particular, the possibility of any improvement in the status of women did not exist. This was the opposite of the situation in, for instance, the UK. In the 1830s, literacy rates among women in England are believed to have been around 45 per cent, compared with 60 per cent for men. By 1870, the literacy rates for both sexes were equal, at about 90 per cent. The UK Education Act of 1870 made primary education mandatory for girls as well as boys. The first two institutions of higher education for women, Bedford College (in Bloomsbury and later in Regent’s Park, London) and Royal Holloway College in Egham, Surrey, were founded, respectively, in 1849 and 1879. It need hardly be pointed out that the literacy rates among pre-contact Aborigines of both sexes were also equal, as they had been for 40,000 years: 0 per cent.

As countless reports have shown, and as is well known, violence against Aboriginal women by Aboriginal men occurs at a vastly higher rate than violence against white women by white men. According to the most commonly cited statistic, Aboriginal women are thirty-two times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of family violence, and five times more likely to die in a homicide caused by family violence, than among the rest of the Australian population. (Bronwen Carlson, “No Public Outrage, No Vigils: Australia’s Silence at Violence Against Indigenous Women,” The Conversation, April 16, 2021.) This is now widely recognised by judges when handing down sentences to Aboriginal men for violence against Aboriginal women. For example, Samuel Edwards of Palmerston, near Darwin, was recently jailed for life for killing his female partner after what the judge, Judith Kelly, described as a “prolonged, savage and brutal” attack following an afternoon of heavy drinking. Edwards had thirteen previous convictions for assault. “Justice Kelly ended her sentencing remarks with references to the high rate of violent crimes and sexual offences represented in the majority Aboriginal male prison population in the Northern Territory, saying that most of them were domestic violence related. ‘That translates into a steady stream of Aboriginal women going into hospital, or, like this poor woman, into the morgue,’ she said.” (ABC News Online, October 1, 2021.) Even the left-wing ABC, for whom the Aborigines can do no wrong, reported this prominently and at length: could it really be that violence against women is now beginning to trump their taboo on reporting Aboriginal misdeeds?

For the Australian Left and for almost all radical feminists, there is one cause of the astronomical rate of male Aboriginal violence against Aboriginal women: the white man. According to Bronwen Carlson, in the Conversation article cited above, “Violence against Indigenous women is deeply ingrained in Australia’s colonial history which condoned the murder, rape, and sexual abuse of Indigenous women.” In other words, this egregious piece of anti-white racism blames the white man for crimes against Aboriginal women, not the Aboriginal men who actually carried out presumably each and every one of these attacks.

According to Liz Conor’s Skin Deep: Settler Impressions of Aboriginal Women (2016, p. 95), there was an “undoubted upsurge in violence towards Aboriginal women, particularly in the two decades following first contact”, which was attributed to Aboriginal men as “an expedient contrivance”. It would be interesting to learn how Conor knows that there was an “undoubted upsurge in violence” in the two decades after first contact, as absolutely no statistics exist, or could possibly exist, about Aboriginal male violence against Aboriginal women in pre-contact Australia. All of the accounts made by well-qualified early white observers of Aboriginal society suggest the exact opposite, that violence and the grossest kinds of discrimination against Aboriginal women by Aboriginal men in pre-contact Aboriginal society were endemic and pervasive, and had been for 40,000 years.

It therefore seems surely to have been the case that a main cause of the extraordinarily high levels of violence by Aboriginal men against Aboriginal women, and in all likelihood, the main cause of it, is to be found in pre-contact Aboriginal society, in which, as George Taplin put it in the extract above, “the woman’s life is of no account if her husband wishes to destroy it”. Once again, the current depiction of pre-contact Aboriginal society by the Left as that of a rustic utopia is the exact opposite of its actual nature, Orwellian in its total distortion of the truth, in the interests of maligning the society which white Europeans have built up in Australia.

William D. Rubinstein held Chairs of History at Deakin University and at the University of Wales. A frequent contributor to Quadrant, he wrote on cannibalism in traditional Aboriginal society in the September issue

30 comments
  • NFriar

    Brilliantly presented.
    How many years will it take to breed out the endemic violence to women and children in remote communities?
    Is removing services and sit down money the answer?

  • Peter OBrien

    Thank you Bill. I find it passing strange that the most vocal activists promoting ‘culture’ are women. How many respected elder Aunty Ethels and Aunty Marys were there dispensing the old people’s wisdom pre 1788, I wonder?

  • Andrew Griffiths

    I remember reading a paperback title” Boss Drover” about a character Matt Savage who had taken an aboriginal wife. She thought that white men made good husbands because they didn’t knock their wives around as badly as blackmen,its all a matter of degree,I guess.

  • Blair

    Ben Boyd National Park in NSW to be renamed over links to slavery
    By 9News Staff
    “..”It is clear from the expert historical analysis, that Ben Boyd’s association with ‘blackbirding’ should not be reflected or celebrated in any way in our National Parks,” he said.
    “There are many people from NSW’s early history who are worth remembering and celebrating but it is clear from this historical analysis that Ben Boyd is not one of them.”
    The park is set to be renamed in the language of the traditional custodians.””
    I guess the ancestors of today’s “custodians” did not practise wife-beating, infanticide or cannibalism

  • Elizabeth Beare

    As a slight corrective, it should be noted that aboriginal women did have a rich and separate ritual and social life of their own, which female anthropologists have documented in more recent years. Some compensation perhaps for their appalling treatment by men in this very early human culture, perhaps unchanged since the times of humanity’s struggle for survival as a species. Another perespective though is that perhaps in aboriginal Australia an original human grouping with an interactive and generally viable culture was by 1788 in a spin of degeneration due to lack of input from a diversity of other human groups. It is not particularly functional in survival terms to deliberately destroy the perineal tissues of your reproductive females nor to reduce their physically effective contribution to the economy of the group by spearing them and clouting them over the head.
    But cultures do strange things to their adherents. Old women often promulgate the worst excesses on younger women. One extreme thing done by old women was to assist in the rape and then killing of slave girls to accompany a dead master on his byre, a charming Indo-European tradition recorded amongst the Rus Vikings of the Danube. In India, a similar IE custom of suttee, widow burning, approved by old women, was stamped out by the British. And in Australia today, old women still hack away at the genitals of young girls in the name of a particular religion; albeit proscribed in law. In return, old women in history and anthropology were often a target themselves, accused of witchcraft of various sorts and themselves burned or otherwise killed. Most cultures have some gruesome antecedent practices.
    Nor do men in aboriginal society escape scott free – tooth evulsion, finger-digit chopping, skin scarring and especially, the female-emulative practice of male penile sub-incision were their lot in the dance of culture.

  • Brian Boru

    The next time you are at a function and somebody suggests that you respect “First nations” culture in whatever form of words, say aloud that you do not agree.
    .
    If you remain silent, then you have by acquiescence endorsed the practices mentioned in this article.
    .
    “First nations” culture may well include some admirable practices but as we have seen here, it also includes some that are not.

  • Adam J

    You guys keep forgetting that they are INDIGENOUS (TM) and you are not; therefore they get to tell you what to do. No exceptions.

    Regardless, I find it difficult to respect a society that couldn’t even invent writing. In fact, they don’t appear to have had any kind of proto-literacy at all.

  • Katzenjammer

    Another article on The Converstaion yesterday shows how an ancient culture continues its practices into the modern digital era. Proposed remedies, as usual, depend on improved services by external facilitators, naturally, as usual – “This would be best done through culturally appropriate and accessible resources and services, available in local Indigenous languages.”
    https://theconversation.com/technology-facilitated-abuse-of-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-women-is-rife-in-regional-and-remote-areas-171727

  • Andrew Campbell

    Given no written records, it is neither provable or falsifiable that, ‘ Their society was wholly static, and without improvement or change, for the whole of its 40,000-year history prior to the coming of the white man.’ In fact it may be that aboriginal society went backwards on such issues. As Quadrant demonstrates, our society is busily walking away from past verities.

  • wdr

    If Aboriginal society produced improvements, now lost, during its history here, this should be clear from archaeological remains and other similar sources. None has ever been found, nor are they referred to in Aboriginal lore. Presumably, too, if these increased the standard of living, they would be generally imitated. Pascoe’s attempts to show that they were more than nomadic hunter-gatherers has been shown to be false by O’Brien and others.

  • Peter Bannister

    I agree with Elizabeth Beare. How could women thus treated, successfully give birth. Similarly in Ethiopia where female organs of reproduction are so mutilated that childbirth often results in the mother’s death. It is strange, this desire of the male to feel such antipathy towards the female body. A common swearword is the part of the female which gives men so much pleasure. Men are afraid of the power of a woman.

  • Elizabeth Beare

    Peter, all cultures have to deal with the fact of sexual difference between two born sexes that were quite different from each other in many physical ways. Women reproduce babies with bodies ready after menarche to do just that. While men must have a role in this baby-making process, something obvious to any observer of humans and other creatures, in the early primitive world the mechanism of men’s part was by no means clearly demonstrable. That there would be no babies without males was apparent, but it is a long time from sexual intercourse and conception to eventual birth. Thus the male input became assigned to the spirit world. This allowed early societies to create ‘fatherhood’ roles in various classificatory and spiritual ways, mostly by patrilineal ‘ownership’ of females and their offspring, but also by matrilineal processes where the male and female pair who clearly came from the same uterus (the brother and sister) were given cultural lineality. Hence a man passed his ‘spirit’ down to his sister’s children, who inherited matrilineally. In matrilineal societies the biological father became a simple adjunct, his children not seen as his but as belonging spiritually (hence ‘in essence’) to his wife’s brother. That his children may resemble him physically was seen as simply because he physically pummelled the child into his shape during sexual intercourse with the mother. His wife’s brother was seen as the actual father, the lineage father, just as his own sister’s children then belonged to him and the matrilineage into which he was born. Matrilineal societies, more complex to organise, are far less frequent than patrilineal ones though. They were never female-run matriarchies: that is a myth that the realities of male power did not permit. Matrilineal societies are male-run, mirroring patriarchy always. In early human history Claude Levi Strauss postulated sister-exchange as the main means of exogramy, such biological exchanges establishing contacts outside the group, and hence the start of human cultures of associated economic and cultural exchange.
    So:
    Human biology and how it was seen help to explain what went on in the earliest human societies. And yes, men were spiritually afraid of the ‘power of a woman’, for she did mysterious bodily things. Men did them too, with a penis, in particular with pleasurable ejaculation. What better way to assert male power then than to turn a penis into something like a vagina? – welcome to ritual sub-incision. That’s an extreme case, but many societies have male initiatory rites that mimic female reproductive performance, running initiates through tunnels of branches or the spread arms of men, or putting young boys through homosexual intercourse (restricted socially mostly to initiations): all of which were emulative activities designed for men to ‘create men’ as powerful beings, in control of weaker women, and as warriors; just as menarche and female rituals surrounding it created reproductive females.
    I find it interesting that in Scandinavian cultures, where archaic traditions lasted into recorded time, that the Volva goddesses were renowned for their quim, their vulvas. They were invoked by a reverence for the female vulva, the source of all life, and wherein lay the answer to all life. To me this explains well the phenomenon of the Sheila na Gog, statues of a woman stick figure holding open an enormous vulva, which is all that exists of her. These figures are common in Churches in Ireland and parts of Britain – explained as ‘fertility symbols’. I think they are clearly not. I think they are there specifically for spiritual meditation by men; that they have remained revered for aeons in old churches surely claims this too. So yes, men are jealous of women, in a very deep and real sense and what they fear they denigrate and scorn (thus the common swearword, which still has power to shock). So much do human males have a capacity to feel in psychic awe of women that in these contemporary days some of them are trying to actually ‘be’ women. When they are not and never will be. Or they avoid women psychically as well as physically via homosexuality.
    Human sexuality is a minefield; I doubt that any culture would ever deny that. 🙂

  • Ian MacDougall

    Elizabeth:
    That comment of yours above is rather brilliant. It brings to my mind the lectures of Ian Hogbin, the Sydney University anthropologist. Were you perhaps one of his students?

  • Peter Marriott

    Good piece William. The faces of the women holding the sign pretty well says it all for me. I spent years in the northern territory, involved always in bringing borehole water to people. The apathy from the aboriginals was incredible, even though the water was critical to their very existence and the delivery of it should have been of intense interest to them, as it certainly was to all the white station and town and settlement people. With so many real, true life stories,going back to 1788, from white men who lived with the aborigines,not just for years, but decades, and their own life experience they still go through the charade of pretending that it isn’t part of their culture. It’s sad as hell….their culture is the problem I’m afraid, and they must be lying to themselves in not admitting it.

  • James Franklin

    Stephanie Jarrett’s Liberating Aboriginal People from Violence is very good on the topic. This is an older Quadrant article on it (not as graphic though) https://quadrant.org.au/magazine/2008/11/the-cultural-roots-of-aboriginal-violence/

  • Farnswort

    Thank you Professor Rubinstein for this much-needed historical “truth-telling” (to borrow a term from the Aboriginal grievance industry).

  • Peter Bannister

    Elizabeth, I am so grateful for your learned exposition on the primal differences between men and women. For too long I have pondered, and now you have shown me what is behind the veil. Today, if we have made all our fundamental mistakes in our approaches to those who give us so much pleasure we are lucky if we finally learn how to treat each other as equal.

  • Peter Bannister

    Elizabeth, I am so grateful for your learned exposition on the primal differences between men and women. For too long I have pondered, and now you have shown me what is behind the veil. Today, if we have made all our fundamental mistakes in our approaches to those who give us so much pleasure we are lucky if we finally learn how to treat each other as equals.

  • Elizabeth Beare

    Peter B, it seems you are doubly grateful. 🙂
    Sorry if I get a bit carried away on this topic, summarising a thousand learned tomes on the matter.
    And yes, Ian Mac. I was one of Ian Hogbin’s students. I remember him fondly and well. When he wrote ‘The Island of Menstruating Men’ the title was ironic. Now of course it would be seen as terrifically woke and a source of great approval. Until the admirers read the book, of course.

  • Katzenjammer

    Elizabeth B – Thanks. You’ve posted a chain of thoughts I hadn’t previously encountered. Don’t know yet if I agree, but thanks for those unexpected and serious questions.

  • Claude James

    It is a subject mightily taboo -but Aborigines have inflicted far greater violence on Aborigines than whites have inflicted on Aborigines. This is true now, and has been true since 1788.

  • abrogard

    Nice to see a bit of truth.
    You’ve got to feel some sympathy for the plight of aboriginal men today, whether you like to or not.

    For they’re put in a totally schizophrenic situation. Just think about it.

    And picture aboriginals out west or especially up north in aboriginal communities and such with thousands of miles of desert all around… that kind of thing.
    I mean: not aboriginals in Redfern, Sydney.

    They neither us nor aborigine. Can’t be us, don’t know how. And too many of us don’t want them to be – pleases us to have them be ‘traditional peoples’ or something.

    Can’t be not-us. Can’t be aboriginal. That way of life is gone. And who’d want it? They threw it away themselves as quickly as they could. The hunter-gathering is better in our midst.
    So where do they belong?
    And what are they to do?
    40,000 years of one imperative: find food every day.
    Now in a world with one imperative: get richer every day, work, work, work.
    I can’t be bothered. You work it out… It’s very obvious…

  • John C Carrick

    Elizabeth Beare: I am most interested in your expert knowledge of men and women and all that transpires between them. I looked on the Flinders University website for information about articles and books you have written, but the site is “sparing” in your profile; that is to say, no information about you at all, Have you been ghosted in preparation for cancellation, whereby you will never have existed, as with Stalin’s murdered Politburo members, who were erased from history? I certainly hope not. I would like to read much more about the topics that you raised in your comments. Thanks and cheers.

  • colin_jory

    Thanks, Bill, for another most illuminating and well-documented article presenting uncomfortable truths about traditional Australian aboriginal culture.

    Could I suggest that Quadrant establish a special online site for, especially, school and university students who want access to resources which provide correctives to aspects of their formal education which they suspect are heavily biased? “Quadrant for Students” would be a good heading. Hyperlinks to relevant Quadrant online article; other online articles; and bibliographies of relevant books and articles which are not yet accessible online, would be the main fare. However, there would need to be extensive introductory sections to give guidance on what topics are treated where, and to indicate to what falsehoods e-linked or referenced books and articles can provide correctives. Teaching aids such as essay guides and comprehension questions might even be developed and provided over time by Quadrant readers.

    Yet, to be especially cynical, but perhaps realistically so, the hard Left — such as the feminists and their male Leftist groupies — which now has a stranglehold on most formal education, might actually welcome rather than dread such a site, for an especially ugly reason. Readers will recall that in Orwell’s “1984” it is essential to the Party’s totalitarian power-strategy that when the populace from fear are required to shriek hatred against pariah individuals, or against (ever-changing) pariah nations, against which the Party levies absurd accusations, every screaming prol realises at some level of consciousness that the accusations are indeed absurd lies. This is so everyone will be vividly conscious that the Party is so all-powerful that even truth is totally impotent against it, and can be no refuge for anybody. Orwell was implicitly explaining why the charges levied in the Moscow Show Trials of the 1930s against the Old Guard communist leadership were so manifestly false. Moreover, wherever the Communists took over a country after World War 2 the same kinds of show-trials, with the same kinds of obviously absurd lies being alleged against victims, would be conducted even down to town and village levels, for the same purpose. (I have on-file an old account in Annals Australia of just such local show-trials in North Vietnam after the Communists took power there; and a friend’s late father told him of how he had to organise such trials when he was a regional police chief in then-Yugoslavia just after the War.)

    Likewise, if students in classrooms, tutorial rooms and lecture theatres know that Leftist tripe regarding sex, race, religion, aboriginal history, and so on, which is being force-fed to them is just that, but see that any student who says so will automatically be shouted down, smeared with vile epithets, and victimised in essays and assessments, they will be all the more conscious of Leftist power and petrified of contesting it. Truth, rather than setting them free, will by its manifest impotence make them all the more fearfully subservient to the Leftist jihads of lies, and thus, paradoxically, will help consolidate and perpetuate Leftist cultural hegemony.

  • Peter Bannister

    Elizabeth Beare: You tell us that matrilineal societies are actually male controlled. I lived in Malawi from 1974 to 1991 under Life President Dr. Hastings Kamuzu Banda. The Chewa people, to which he belonged, are such a society. He used this to his advantage in his political rallies and speeches. He would be surrounded by his Mbumba, singing and dancing women all dressed alike in head to toe dresses and headscarves, covered in pictures of their beloved Ngwazi, Kamuzu. I took Mbumba to mean his nieces and he was their Mmwalume or uncle. Accommodation and transport was provided for these women to anywhere a rally was to be held. These trips were very popular and enabled women to be free of their husbands and indulge in any peccadilloes thus offered. The cuckolding of husbands consolidated Kamuzu’s power i.e. the men felt powerless.

  • rosross

    Given the traditions of horrific abuse and violence toward women in Aboriginal cultures, and the very high rates of infanticide, dictated by male leaders intent on keeping numbers low, it would hardly be surprising to find that Aboriginal mothers had less commitment to children at unconscious levels.

    I have heard retired nurses who were looking after Aboriginal mothers in the 1970’s talking about the cavalier, if not irresponsible attitude many took to their newborn babies. Reading the historical reports and records, even two centuries after British/European influence, this is hardly surprising in those communities which were the least assimilated into the modern world and the most immersed in backward, tribal traditions and cultural beliefs.

    The violence, including reports of Aboriginal women being beaten while pregnant, would result in high levels of miscarriage and their treatment and poorer diets, often tossed scraps like dogs while the men ate the best, would result in weaker babies which would die more frequently, along with traditions of infanticide, sometimes carried out by women, would create a disconnect, in many mothers, from their children.

    Some of the earliest reports have Aboriginal women admitting to killing and eating their babies, something for which they developed a sense of shame only because of the reactions of the Europeans. What was normal in their society was not accepted in others. Similar things happened in regard to cannibalism where initially it was readily admitted and then, over time, denied or blamed on a tribe down the track.

    Whatever the answers it is difficult to see abused females giving birth to healthy babies and the practices of infanticide over thousands of years, creating a culture of connection and commitment to children. In some tribes, records attest, the men killed older children, usually females, for the meat and the mothers were given the heads to eat. In some tribes a well-fed baby was too much to resist. And when half-castes began to appear on the scene, these were considered to be ‘fair game’ once they reached a suitably plump age.

    It is important not to retrofit modern attitudes to the past and to seek to understand such practices in context. Some women were perhaps horrified by this, but others would not be. They were told what to do by the males and if this was their tradition then very few, given their powerlessness, were going to question it.

  • rosross

    @Elizabeth Beare,

    I grapple somewhat with the concept that people in times past were too stupid to make a connection between a menstruating girl, sex with a male and pregnancy. In primitive societies people spent a great deal of time observing and while for some this brought faster evolution, it seems such a logical thing to perceive that while I know and have often read the various theories, yours included, it doesn’t really make sense.

    However, as we peer into the past we can never truly know. Yes, some, perhaps many, Aboriginal groups believed that a woman could become pregnant if she passed an area where the spirits of the dead were hanging around. Did they really believe this or was it a story, like our myths, fables, fairy tales, to indicate the dead were still around and they had a power of life and death? In other words was it totally literal or partly metaphorical? Who can say?

    Neither do I believe most men were jealous of women, particularly in these primitive cultures. Life was hard enough without menstruation, pregnancy and breastfeeeding, that few would envy it.

    I suspect males were dominant for very simple reasons – they had biologically greater freedom and greater muscle strength for killing game which made humans strong in ways the roots and berries collected by females did not, and they could defend themselves and the tribe and particularly the females when more vulnerable, from animal and human threats.

    A healthy male had power and freedom to act, 365 days a year in ways a healthy female did not.

    And there are also theories that before the Patriarchal age there was a Matriarchal age when God was female. Such a belief, given the female ability to create and bring forth life, was perfectly natural and sensible. As no doubt was the movement toward a Patriarchal age in order to provide balance.

    I have no doubt your theories on sexuality have credence for some and in some respects but I doubt it is that absolute or that general. Males and females in general have levels of fear each about the other because the other is still relatively unknown. We have only emerged in the past half century in the Western world, from strictly dictated systems of behaviour for males and females which limited their ability to understand each other and had done for millennia.

    It is human nature and a part of our biological hardwiring to respond with ‘fear’ to that which is unknown. But, a fascinating topic all the same.

  • colin_jory

    My suspicion, roscros, is that in those primitive Australian and Pacific native societies where pregnancy was ascribed to supernatural causes rather than to sexual intercourse, intercourse was nonetheless regarded as a sine qua non — a precondition. Such a view would have been sustainable when everyone had the same skin colour, hair type and hair colour, and basic facial features. What must surely have destroyed the view, however, was the arrival of Europeans, quickly followed by the birth of babies with part-European features. Sexual intercourse would then inevitably have been recognised as not a mere precondition but as a cause — unless, perhaps, halfcast infants were interpreted as the gods’ whimsical punishment for hanky-panky with the honkies. In that case the lifespan of the infants would usually, no doubt, have been very short indeed.

  • wdr

    Many thanks to all the commentators. I have an article in the forthcoming issue of Quadrant, on the claims that the Aborigines were the victims of genocide. I am writing a book on this subject, which will expand on my Quadrant articles and add new subjects. It is tentatively called The Great Deception: The Real and Awful Nature of Aboriginal Society. The view of pre-Contact Aboriginal society as a utopia is Orwellian in its being the exact opposite of the truth, and evidence of how race war (and gender war) has replaced class war on the contemporary left. Fifty years ago leftist historians wrote about convicts, trade unions, the Eureka Stockade, etc., to highlight the working class against the Establishment. This has largely vanished today, and has been replaced by highlighting how badly the Aborigines have been treated by white Australians.

  • rosross

    @colin_jory,

    Intercourse with foreigners was not something which began with the arrival of the British. Aboriginal peoples had been exposed to and mixed with Malays, Polynesians and others long before 1788, particularly given the common practice of bartering women for sex.

    So, I have no doubt they were aware that such intercourse resulted in physical differences, it was just that the differences were greater when it happened with Europeans.

    There is a modern habit of believing people in the past were stupid simply because they were less developed. Their powers of observation and empirical gathering of data were no different, albeit, somewhat influenced by cultural attitudes which dictated whether they cared or not.

    Given Aboriginal ‘skin traditions’ it seems likely they cared somewhat but not enough to prevent them bartering their females for sex when it brought profits.

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