Challenging sexism in elite boys’ schools

Amid the brouhaha concerning Christian Porter and the sexual conduct of men in parliament who are the products of private boys’ schools, we have not heard much about class as a dimension of the problem that needs to be remedied. We cling to the myth that Australia is classless. Indeed, no Australian anti-discrimination legislation outlaws discrimination on the ground of class, although it is one of the most marked manifestations of inequality in our society.
The normalisation of class in conjunction with gender and race has been thrown into high relief in the wake of recent allegations that men in Parliament House have sexually harassed and assaulted women with impunity. While Kate Jenkins’ inquiry into the culture of Parliament House is welcomed, I suspect the terms of reference will be narrowly drafted and unlikely to address the culture that pervades private boys’ schools and carries over into the workplace. However, it is in these schools that the bonds of homosociality are forged and then transmitted to the professions, as well as corporate and political life.
Thornton M. Challenging sexism  in elite boys’ schools. Alternative Law Journal. April 2021.
ANU Gender Institute member author
Margaret Thornton


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Gender Institute

Date posted

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Updated:  7 November 2012/Responsible Officer:  Convenor, Gender Institute/Page Contact:  Web manager, Gender Institute