"Smash sexist movies": gender, culture and ocker cinema in 1970s Australia

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The 1970s is often characterised as the decade of Australia’s “new nationalism”, expressed most potently in a wave of cultural activity nurtured by government funding. The figure of the ocker was central to this new nationalism, particularly in film. The ocker, a contemporary masculine archetype devoted to beer, sex and swearing, was a star of Australian films such as The Adventures of Barry McKenzie, Alvin Purple, Petersen and Don’s Party. Yet few scholars have considered the ocker in a gendered context, remarkable when we consider that while the ocker films were being produced, the women’s liberation movement was mounting a radical challenge to Australian cultural, social and political norms. What new understandings of 1970s society and culture might result if we read the new nationalist ocker and women’s liberation in the same frame? This article examines the relationship between ocker culture and women’s liberation in the 1970s. It argues that we can read new nationalist popular culture as a site of gendered cultural contest, with a particular focus on feminist responses to ocker culture, including Alvin Purple, and a reading of the film Petersen.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-195
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Australian Studies
Issue number2
Early online date1 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • ocker
  • women's liberation
  • popular culture
  • film
  • national identity
  • masculinity
  • women’s liberation
  • Ocker


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