Robyn Archer

Robyn Archer, AOCdOAL, is often referred to as a national treasure. She is known to many for her one woman shows in the 1970s and 80s, by others for her original songs  and recordings, and now by thousands more for her memorable arts festivals in Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide and Tasmania. Robyn’s reputation has grown globally as a cabaret performer as a very successful artistic director of major international arts festivals and as an arts advocate. (Robyn’s official website: The Deparcher Lounge).

National Library Trove Robyn Archer archive . To give a rough idea of how prolific and significant Robyn Archer’s contribution has been to date (2019), there are over 7000 entries in the Trove archive, 223 items of which are music, sound and video. While Robyn’s work has gained international prominence, the focus of this page is her early output in the 1970s and 80s, the period of so-called ‘second wave’ feminism in Australia.

Robyn Archer in the 1980s

Listen to Songs By Robyn Archer

That Good Old Double Standard by Robyn Archer


This song was recorded by Larrikin Records in 1978 and published in The Robyn Archer Songbook. It was written for the show Live-Could-Possibly-Be-True-One-Day Adventures of Superwoman (1974) and expresses  an iconoclastic view of sexism in the 1970s, sadly still
relevant today.
In 2022 Robyn wrote a new final verse as a sequel to reflect a 21 st century perspective on evolving attitudes to gender.


That Good Old Double Standard
Song Lyrics


That good old double standard, raise it high, raise it high; 
That flag of sexist attitudes, let it fly, oh let it fly; 
This army has two sets of rules depending on your sex.
So you’d better do what the gen’ral says or else he’ll have your necks;
If a boy experiments with sex, he’s a young blood, brave and bold; 
If a young girl does exactly that she’s slut, a tramp, a moll; 
Male and female are viewed diff ‘rently by society’s ev’ry eye;
So raise the good old double standard high!

Did you ever hear of a pack of women trying to rape a man?
Did you ever see a woman pinch a man’s bum in a tram? 
No, these are male prerogatives not available to dames, 
And to make sure that it stays that way is the double standard’s aim; 
This flag’s a glorious symbol of women’s weaker need; 
Her body’s built for birth, not for voracious sexual greed; 
She’s a victim, she’s the passive, she’s the gender that’s passed by
So raise the good old double standard high!

When it comes to contraception then the male is never to blame, 
Forget to take the pill, your child’s a bastard with no name,
It’s his normal nat ‘ral needs that make him crave your body so 
And you’re called a prude or frigid if you ever dare say no; 
The double standard says that all wives crave a marital rape 
And their feeble protestations, their excuses to escape, 
Are just standard feminine come-ons to kindle his desire, 
So raise the good old double standard higher

If it’s him that’s worked so hard and he’s not feeling the best, 
Then none of your black negligees will coax him from his rest, 
There are no male brothels when a woman’s need is great 
And the double standard teaches women cannot masturbate; 
But if you’ve looked after kids all day, done his cooking, washing too, 
And he comes home with a sexual need he’ll just o’erpower you,
You’re meant to tremble with excitement as he unzips his fly, 
So keep the double standard flying high. 

That good old double standard, raise it high, raise it high; 
That flag of sexist attitudes, let it fly, oh let it fly; 
There are just two ways about it for ev’ry thing you do 
And you’ll never know what hold sexual attitude has on you;
You women never ever see the tyranny of men
Your sexual freedom is enslaved again and yet again 
In ev’rything to do with your lives are one big lie. 
So raise the good old double standard high, high, high;
So raise the good old double standard high!

Extra verse added 2022:
That bad old double standard is a thing of days of yore
That flag of sexist attitudes only raised by dinosaurs
There’s been a lot of progress, but there’s still lots more to do
‘Cos you never know what hold sexual attitudes have on you
A fluid kind of gender is acknowledged at last
As the female/male dichotomy recedes into the past
But don’t discount the powerful’s ability to conspire
So toss that Double Standard on the fire fire fire
And fight for better futures as the flames grow higher

Sweet Solitary Blues by Robyn Archer, 1988

Sweet Solitary Blues, the second song selected, celebrates solitude and implicitly questions the relentless pressure on women of the time to consider heterosexual partnering as their principal life’s ambition, overshadowing any other life choice or purpose. Sweet Solitary Blues comes from the soundtrack of the 1986 television program The Pack of Women (ABC). Direct link to Trove entry.

Sweet Solitary Blues

Song Lyrics

1. Sweet solitary blues;
Nobody’s pushing me, I don’t owe no dues;
Sure it’s lonesome sometimes;
But these days you oughta know, that’s one of the lesser crimes
Sweet solitary blues.

2. Most of them blues you hear is moaning for some other, 
Someone you never got, or a late lamented lover; 
These blues is satisfied blues, I’m gonna blow my cover
My solitude is sweeter to me than some foreign body between my sheets

3. Don’t read nothing between the lines;
My heart ain’t never been broken, my friends entwine me; 
I work, I think, I fit myself like dear old shoes;
Got them sweet solitary blues.

Suburban Sonnet – Sung by Robyn Archer, Poem by Gwen Harwood