May the day soon arrive when no fair Australian girl shall be allowed, or even be willing, to help gild the wine cup or beer glass with her attractive, and, alas! her most dangerous presence
Archdeacon Francis Boyce: The Drink Problem in Australia: 1893
|Barmaids in action
The Australian Barmaid Prohibition 1884-1967
Towards the close of the nineteenth century, those putrid moralists who consistently hover just below the surface of society burst through like the boils they are and called for a ban on all barmaids. It was observed in 1893 that:
A barmaid spends her time in serving out intoxicants which weaken people's moral restraints... Can this possibly be fit business for any pure minded girl? Again, a pretty girl is frequently engaged to attract soft young men, and keep them hanging about the bar, and when natures bloom has left her cheek, paint is often used. May the day soon arrive when no fair Australian girl shall be allowed, or even be willing, to help gild the wine cup or beer glass with her attractive, and, alas! her most dangerous presence." (Archdeacon Francis Boyce: The Drink Problem in Australia: 1893, as quoted in The Ugly Australian, 1976)
It was said that "[t]his is no sectarian affair, but one in which Jews and Gentiles, Roman Catholic and Protestant and Free-thinker should work side by side for the countrys good, and rid the colony of the social curse which not only makes drunkards of our sons, but prostitutes of our daughters!" (Mr Cyril Haviland: 1884). The Adelaide Adviser reported along the same lines (1884, as quoted in The Ugly Australian):
...the fearful injury wrought young men, especially clerks, by the seductive influence of young and exquisitely dressed barmaids in the saloons and back bars of several Adelaide hotels. These girls are generally of Melbourne or Sydney extraction.... the girls whose attractions are heightened by artificial means dispensed liquors and toyed with the youthful gommeux.
The wowsers were successful in their campaign of petty morals and hypocrisy. Melbourne was the first to respond, passing a regulation banning the employment of new barmaids post 1884. Whilst bar maids were banned from public bars, they were employed in small "private bars" in which some of the moralists worst fears (or jealousies) were realised. It took the labour shortages brought about by the mass slaughter of our nation's finest during World War Two to bring home the fact that the moralists' pathetic meddling was neither warranted nor wanted. Conservative South Australia was the last state to abolish the ban in 1967, with the moralists no doubt turning their soul saving energy to similarly offensive endeavours.
It is interesting to note that the pubs of today employ similar tactics to entice young men to spend. For every barmaid of old that has withered and died, there have been two fresh faced darlings willing to squeeze into some skimpy outfit for the entertainment of all. God bless 'em.
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