Fair Enough: Egalitarianism in Australia

By Elaine Thompson | Go to book overview

CONCLUSION

When I was a child going to a primary public school in the 1950s my world was turned upside down by the arrival, into already overcrowded classes, of large numbers of small, dark-eyed children who spoke no English. They and their parents broke all the school rules of social etiquette. The children learned quickly and intensely and their parents came to the school and questioned the teachers' decisions. I was an Aussie born and bred -- or so I thought. I spent my summers hosing cicadas out of trees and galloping around the backyard of the girl down the road who wanted to be a horse. Then I went to a private secondary school where I absorbed a new set of social conventions including the avoidance of Catholics, girls who pierced their ears, and people who said 'Haitch'. Foreigners remained an alien race. My girlfriends and I were frightened and outraged when 'men' with hairy chests and broken English ignored the social barriers and tried to pick us up as we lay on the beach in bikinis or pranced into coffee shops in high heels and tight belts. Our displays were not intended for them.

It came as quite a shock when at the age of eighteen I met Catholics at university and found that they were exactly like everyone else -- except more interesting. A greater shock came when I realised that the social norms and values which I had absorbed as part of a conventional, middle-class upbringing in suburban Sydney meant that I held inconsistent, if not schizophrenic attitudes. Had I met my father as a stranger in the street I would have rejected him as strange and threatening -- he was a foreigner. Had I met my mother under the same circumstances I probably would have been coldly polite while I

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Fair Enough: Egalitarianism in Australia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgements vi
  • Introduction vii
  • 1 - The Silver Bodgie and the Silvertail 1
  • 2 - A British Soul 27
  • 3 - The Other Australians 48
  • 4 - The Cult of Disremembering 92
  • 6 - A Fair and Reasonable Living 155
  • 7 - Castles in the Air 193
  • 8 - Tall Poppies, Small Minds 215
  • Conclusion 249
  • References 254
  • Index 270
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