Summers, Anne: Damned whores and God’s police

Summers, Anne

Damned Whores and God’s Police: The Colonization of Women in Australia, Penguin, Ringwood, Vic., 1975; later editions 1994, 2002

According to the author’s website, the book was in November 2003 voted one of the top ten books of the past 40 years by the Australian Sociological Association.

In this groundbreaking book, Anne Summers maintains that two ways of defining women quickly became entrenched in Australia. Women were perceived either as “damned whores” – the label given to convict women in the first years of white settlement – or “God’s police”, “respectable” women who from the early days of colonial Australia were assigned the role of moral guardians of the community. This persistent stereotyping has shaped what women have – and have not – been able to do in Australian society. (blurb)

A review of the second edition is here and the author is interviewed in 2004 here (transcript).


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