It’s been a week since I began reading Fight Like A Girl by Clementine Ford, and wow oh wow I am so lucky that this book came my way.
“I’m angry that girls all over the world learn to hate themselves. Because we are taught that we are worth hating.” (Clementine Ford).
I picked it up obliviously, while scanning through the local library for nothing in particular. The title caught my eye, and since reading the first page, I have been hooked.
I didn’t know that I needed some good feminist literature until I started reading. It’s like I wasn’t aware of the ways in which my thinking didn’t click properly, or that I was previously aware of these ideas, but nothing had set them in stone. And now, I feel strong.
I have considered myself a feminist since leaving the throes of my Catholic high school, and taking a few sociology papers at university. However, what feminism actually meant, and the fight that we must fight, has never been so clearly cemented in before. It feels like I just woke up. Like I can see. And I feel so angry, yet empowered all the same.
I recorded all the quotes in this piece because they really spoke to me. They make me feel strong. This is only a tiny selection of all the words in the book that moved me (and in case I haven’t been obvious enough yet, I recommend this book! So very much!).
“Do feminists hate men? When you consider the level of hostility women are subjected to just for standing up for ourselves, surely the better query is why do so many men seem to hate women so fiercely, so aggressively, so violently and so passionately?” (Clementine Ford).
The writing in this piece feels a bit frantic and all over the place, which is an uncomfortable feeling to not have everything perfectly manicured, but I just have to get my thoughts out on this.
“It was just another one of those jokes that women are expected to suck up and swallow without complaint so we don’t inconvenience the dudes who confuse being asked not to abuse us with being grievously oppressed.” (Clementine Ford).
This year, I have taken on a leadership role at university, and this book has helped me to understand so clearly why certain situations make me feel irritated, but I couldn’t explain why. I walk into board meetings where I have been invited to observe, and the vast majority of people are middle-aged, rich, white men. They rule the meetings. There are a couple of women, but they don’t speak very often. There is a singular person of colour, and she is a woman. This is the board who makes massive decisions about the university, and the people who decide everything don’t even near closely represent the population that they serve. And this situation is mirrored across almost all leadership teams across the world. It makes me so angry.
“To a world that instructs women to be passive and conciliatory, anger is a terrifying thing. Anger is unpredictable. It’s uncontrollable. People are afraid of a women’s anger because they are afraid of confronting its source – inequality, violence, degradation, dehumanisation, misogyny. If you don’t want to accept that these things exist, you won’t want to accept the validity of women’s feelings of rage about them.” (Clementine Ford).
On a leadership note though, something that does make me so very happy, is that here in New Zealand, our prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, is not only female, but she is also a feminist, AND is pregnant too. You should have seen the ridiculous outrage here when she announced her pregnancy; people gasping in horror that a woman couldn’t possibly have a job and have a family. And even better? She is unmarried, and her partner will be a stay-at-home dad when their baby is born – two facts which are really making men recoil in hate. Jacinda is running our country right, and she is doing a wonderful job. We are so incredibly lucky to have her.
Part of Ford’s book is about intersectional feminism, with a call to take a step back and recognise the ways we are privileged, which intersects with the oppression of being a woman. She acknowledges that she is white, cisgendered, and able bodied, and that those of us who have this privilege must use it to create space and platforms for those who do not have this privilege. Feminism must encompass the narratives of women of colour, LGBTI women, fat women, and poor women just to name a few. As a result, I am keen to learn more about these different intersections of feminism, and to learn how to use my privilege for good. If you have any book, or other sort of media recommendations, I would love to hear them!
“To the white women like myself who are reading this book . . . please make it a point to continuously examine and interrogate the ways you experience privilege despite being subjected to other forms of discrimination and oppressive ideologies.” (Clementine Ford).
I am a feminist, and I am proud of this.
I am a feminist, and I am angry.
I am a feminist, and I will work for women.
My purpose in life is not to appease men.
You can find Clementine Ford on Twitter here, and her regular column in The Sydney Morning Herald here.