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Category: Interviews »

Subject: Sociology »

Maria Tence on Italian boys and Australian girls

Mara Moustafine and Maria Tence.

Museum curator Maria Tence discusses the relation between Italian boys and Australian girls.



Date Added:

06 April 2009


source not available


mov (Quicktime);

File size:

9 MB




It was horrible, it was one of those judgemental mentalities where you would say things – “Well you know, of course, the boys are going to the, you know, the Richmond dance because of those Australian girls. They’re easy.” So it was a horrible thing to think that you were brought up to think that the boys would make that choice and there was no real evidence for that, it was just this belief that the Australian girls were easy. And the Italian girls were going to be the wives, you know, the saying was, “Look they’ll go and have their fun but they’ll come back to you. Because you’re pure and Italian.” So, when you think about it, you think, what a horrible way to live, and to inculcate your children with this standard, which is quite unreal and quite unreasonable.


Hence, the problems of the ‘70s. Especially during the period of accepting other cultures, where Australian society was more embracing of difference and so the Australian boys may have wanted, you know, to make friends with the Italian girls but there was just no chance. It was easy for an Italian boy to find an Australian girl as a companion but the reverse was impossible.


Migration favoured the single male. For the purpose of building the country, being the factory fodder or being the infrastructure fodder that was going to make the roads and build the nation. The migration program favoured this so you did have an imbalance where there were a lot of males and very few females. And those females were different to the Italian males that were here. So they were very interested. They were more a freer society - it was a freer society and those Italian men who enjoyed that challenge, felt I suppose, a breath of fresh air.


They didn’t have these customs, the restricting customs from the small villages, the small village mentality, the nasty mouths, the gossip-mongers, they didn’t have that so it was easier for them and of course, there’s these gorgeous Mediterranean men who came mostly from rural Ital. They were quite muscular because they were used to working on the land and very fashionable, I mean, Europe was much more ahead of fashion than Australia was. Of course youcould see that there could be some social problems in that respect. If a group of Italian boys showed up at an Australian dance, yes, I would imagine there’d be a little bit of trouble. And the Australian men didn’t want their girls to dance with the wogs, the greasy wogs. But that’s that perspective and then there’s the other perspective as well. I mean, basically it was an environment of discrimination on both sides.


End transcript