Female Convicts: Victims or Agents?
This paper addresses and examines the historiographical debate on the situation of female convicts. In particular, it asserts that convict women were not necessarily victimised by the transportation system, with prisoners able to manipulate the conditions of the colony to assert a significant degree of agency. In the factory system, female prisoners often collectively rebelled to improve their circumstances. Similarly, women in assigned service practised individual acts of rebellion, empowered by the recognition that the scarcity of labour endowed them with substantial bargaining power. Furthermore, investigation of the sexual nature of their imprisonment demonstrates convict women encountered sexual expectations similar to those they would have experienced as working class women in Britain, with prisoners perhaps perceiving their sexuality as another means to develop their economic or social agency.
Australian History (excl Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History)