DW&GP 2016 Cover

Damned Whores and God’s Police, 2016 edition

In 1975 Anne Summers identifed ‘damned whores’ and ‘God’s police’, stereotypes that characterised Australian women as being either virtuous mothers, whose function was to civilise society, or bad girls who failed to conform and were spurned and vilified as a result. Her book became a landmark publication and one of the most influential bestsellers of the past 40 years.

In this updated and fully comprehensive version of her classic book she argues that these stereotypes persist. This new edition contains the prefaces from each printing over 40 years, including the controversial ‘Letter to the next generation’ from 1994, and an updated timeline of key milestones and achievements by and for women from 1788 to 2015.

It is as insightful and relevant as ever in its powerful analysis of what continues to prevent Australian women from achieving full equality. Anne Summers identifies violence against women as one major factor and argues that our inability to deal with women holding power, especially in politics, is another. This remarkable book will energise and inspire a new generation of Australians.

Available 1 March

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Sexual harassment, domestic violence and date rape had not been named, although they certainly existed, when Damned Whores and God’s Police was first published in 1975. That was before the Sex Discrimination Act of 1984 and before large numbers of women became visible in employment, in politics and elsewhere across society. It’s hard to imagine an Australia where these abuses were not yet fully understood as obstacles to women’s equality, yet that was Australia in 1975.

It was in this climate that Anne Summers identified ‘damned whores’ and ‘God’s police’, the stereotypes that characterised all women as being either virtuous mothers whose function was to civilise society or bad girls who refused, or were unable, to conform to that norm and who were thus spurned and rejected by mainstream Australia.

These stereotypes persist to this day, argues Anne Summers in this updated version of her classic book which, in the 40 years since it was first published, has sold well over 100,000 copies and been set on countless school and university syllabuses. Who are today’s damned whores? And why do women themselves still want to be God’s Police? And although sexual harassment, domestic violence and date rape are well understood today they are nevertheless still with us and seem to be increasing. The fight is far from over.