Indigenous Australian women's colonial sexual intimacies: positioning Indigenous women's agency

Corrinne Tayce Sullivan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Colonialist views of Indigenous bodies and sexualities continue to affect Indigenous peoples worldwide. For Indigenous Australians, this burden has resulted in repression and oppression of power, sex and desire. Focusing on the sexual intimacies of Indigenous Australian women, this paper provides an account of the dominant Australian historical discourses, finding that Indigenous women were viewed as exotic, erotic, something to be desired, yet simultaneously something to be feared. Our sexualities were described as savage, promiscuous and primitive and we were often viewed as prostitutes with our voices and views constrained by patriarchal and imperial regimes of power. But within this context, Indigenous women fought back through both individual and collective acts of agency. This paper demonstrates how Indigenous Australian women’s agency not as a new phenomenon but rather as a position that disrupts the popular discourses of exploitation and victimhood that have been persistently perpetrated against Indigenous women.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-410
Number of pages14
JournalCulture, Health and Sexuality
Issue number4
Early online date27 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2018


  • Indigenous Australian
  • Indigenous sexualities
  • prostitution
  • agency
  • identities


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