Colonial constructions of masculinity: transforming Aboriginal Australian men into 'houseboys'
In Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia, Aboriginal men made up more than half of the domestic servant population by 1938. They replaced the Chinese and Malay male servants who had worked for British colonists in the early colonial period. Much of the historical work on male domestic servants in colonial situation plots the construction of the 'houseboy' as emasculated, feminised and submissive. In contrast, colonial constructions of Aboriginal men as 'houseboys' in Darwin emphasise the masculinity of the Aboriginal hunter. Aboriginal men were characterised as requiring constant discipline and training, and this paternalistic discourse led to a corresponding denial of manhood or adulthood for Aboriginal men.