'A Hand Prepared to be Red': Manliness and Violence on Britain's Colonial Frontiers

‘A Hand Prepared to be Red’: Manliness and Violence on Britain’s Colonial Frontiers

Robert Paul Hogg

Australasian Journal of Victorian Studies, Vol 15, No 1 (2010)


Some men, and at times great numbers of men, engage in violent behaviour. As Bob Connell (Masculinities, 5) points out, it is overwhelmingly males who control and use violence. Ray Evans, in examining the evidence accumulated by feminist historians such as Judith Allen (1982), Kay Saunders (1984) and Marilyn Lake (1986), concludes that we cannot avoid the “historical ubiquity of largely male derived violence” (“Gun”, 202, 207). So ubiquitous is male violence that John Archer argues that it should be considered a “normal” characteristic of masculinity (Male Violence, 24). Similarly, Elizabeth Stanko argues that violent behaviour is neither deviant or abnormal but “an ordinary part of life” (Everyday Violence, 5-7).

Wars, slavery, and conquest are inherently violent enterprises, and men have been at the forefront of these activities. In a study of white male settler societies in the late imperial period, Jock McCulloch demonstrates that violence was an indispensable part of the management of the British Empire (“Empire”, 220-239). Pointing out that the subject of violence has been a neglected part of studies of imperialism (223), he describes how, in Southern Rhodesia and South Africa, white males in particular used violence to ensure a compliant labour force, so that they could compete economically with more efficient indigenous agricultural producers. McCulloch’s study is interesting in that it draws attention to the ways in which violence is shaped by gender.

Click here to read this article from the Australasian Journal of Victorian Studies

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