Abstract: Nearly fifty years ago, the Australian government sent thirty military advisers to South Vietnam, thereby initiating a commitment to a war which was to last for over a decade. Altogether, nearly 47,000 Australians, including 17,500 national servicemen served in Vietnam; 500 died and 2500 were wounded. Almost as disturbing as the results of the battlefield were the shockwaves that reverberated throughout Australian society, for the war years turned out to be one of the most turbulent periods in the nation’s history. The events of these tumultuous years are examined in five little-known Australian women’s fictions—Nuri Maas’s 1971 As Much a Right to Live, Janine Burke’s 1984 Speaking, Wendy Scarfe’s 1984 Neither Here Nor There and her 1988 Laura, My Alter Ego: A Novel of Love, Loyalty and Conscience, and Patricia Cornelius’s 2002 My Sister Jill. Together these texts chronicle the politicization of Australian youth, recount the kinds of overt challenges to the traditional standards of masculinity which had prevailed in Australian society since its inception, and document the emergence of the secondwave feminist movement.

Keywords: Vietnam War, conscription, draft resisters, masculinities, second-wave feminist movement

Copyright © Donna Coates 2011. This text may be archived and redistributed both in electronic form and in hard copy, provided that the author and journal are properly cited and no fee is charged.