Book launch: The Sex Lives of Australians - A History

Black Inc, Smiths Alternative Bookshop and the ANU School of History invite you to the launch of Frank Bongiorno's The Sex Lives of Australians: A History

To be launched by Dr Peter Stanley, Head of the Centre for Historical Research, National Museum of Australia and Adjunct Professor of History, Australian National University

Tuesday 3 July at 6pm
Smiths Alternative Bookshop
Melbourne Building, 76 Alinga Street, Canberra ACT (opposite the Canberra City Post Office)

RSVP by Friday 29 June to
Refreshments will be served

About the book:
'engaging, open-minded and humorous .. a fascinating, unique book’ - BOOKSELLER+PUBLISHER

Cross-dressing colonists, 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 highly readable social history, Frank Bongiorno uses striking examples to chart the changing sex lives of Australians. He shows how an overwhelmingly 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. The twentieth century saw the rise of the sex expert. Tracing the story up 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 raises some intriguing questions – What did it mean to be a ‘mate’? How did modern warfare affect soldiers’ attitudes to sex? Why did the law ignore lesbianism for so long? – and introduces some remarkable characters, both reformers and radicals. This is a thought-provoking story of sex in Australia.

With a foreword by Michael Kirby, AC CMG.



Date & time

Tue 03 Jul 2012, 6–7.30pm


School of History


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