Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for Sisters . . .

S is for Sisters today because mine flew up from Tucson to visit me for a wickedly quick weekend. I think she might eat sushi for the first time (she's still a little squeamish), we'll visit a few fabric stores, and then we'll walk along the Spokane River where the ice melt has begun and the river thunders west. Later we'll go to Manito Park and a Japanese Garden. Today the sun is shining. All is well.

If I were to really write today, I'd write about the sealers, how they took aboriginal women from their families, sometimes willingly, sometimes not, and then kept a family of 'wives' on tiny islands to hunt and kill and then skin seals along Bass Strait, just north of Tasmania.

And though I have no sisters in my story, there is a sense of community between the women characters, for there must have been. The women were outnumbered and vulnerable. If they were married to someone of the upper class, they were protected. But the rest, whether single, wives, sisters, or daughters, were often stereotyped and treated as prostitutes from the earliest days of colonization. Robert Hughes reports that 80% of the 24,000 women transported to Van Diemen's Land were sentenced for theft -- a length of cloth, three chickens, what we would call petty crimes today. Perhaps 1 in 5 women were considered "on the town," that is, outright prostitutes (see Hughes, The Fatal Shore,  244-245). 

Ah, the coffee is ready. So, S is for Sisters, and thank goodness for Sunday being off from A to Z Blogging Challenge so I have time for mine!