History repeating: the surprising link between toxic masculinity and Australia’s convict past

It has been a momentous, demanding few weeks for Australia. Amid growing revelations of sexual assaults and toxic workplaces and people taking to the streets to voice their anger and frustration, it’s possible we are finally facing a reckoning on gender relations.

But as we debate — again — how to move into a more equal future, it is also useful to look to our convict past. This has an impact on the issues we face today, and in particular, our idea of masculine norms.

My research with colleagues Victoria Baranov and Ralph De Haas has used data from a unique natural experiment — convict Australia. This was a time when men far outnumbered women.

We found those early days of intensified competition between men, and the violence that stemmed from this, created behaviours — and dangerous norms about masculinity — that continue in modern Australia today. …

By Pauline Grosjean, Professor of Economics, UNSW for The Conversation

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