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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

'Fight Like A Girl' by Clementine Ford

From the BLURB:

Personal and fearless - a call to arms for feminists new, old and as yet unrealised by one of our most outspoken feminist writers.

'With wit, insight and glorious, righteous rage, Clementine Ford lays out all the ways in which girls and women are hurt and held back, and unapologetically demands that the world do better. A passionate and urgently needed call to arms, Fight Like A Girl insists on our right to be angry, to be heard and to fight. It'll change lives.' Emily Maguire, author of An Isolated Incident

A friend recently told me that the things I write are powerful for her because they have the effect of making her feel angry instead of just empty. I want to do this for all women and young girls - to take the emptiness and numbness they feel about being a girl in this world and turn it into rage and power. I want to teach all of them how to FIGHT LIKE A GIRL. Clementine Ford

Online sensation, fearless feminist heroine and scourge of trolls and misogynists everywhere, Clementine Ford is a beacon of hope and inspiration to thousands of Australian women and girls. Her incendiary debut Fight Like A Girl is an essential manifesto for feminists new, old and soon-to-be, and exposes just how unequal the world continues to be for women. Crucially, it is a call to arms for all women to rediscover the fury that has been suppressed by a society that still considers feminism a threat.

Fight Like A Girl will make you laugh, cry and scream. But above all it will make you demand and fight for a world in which women have real equality and not merely the illusion of it.


‘Fight Like a Girl’ is debut non-fiction from feminist and DailyLife columnist, Clementine Ford.

Full disclosure: I have no objectivity where Clementine Ford is concerned. It’s not just that she’s represented by the literary agency I now work for, that I’ve written for the same DailyLife where Clementine is a columnist, or was lucky enough to chair a session with her and Amy Gray at Melbourne Writers Festival this year … it’s that I’ve been reading Clementine Ford’s work for about five years now and she’s so intrinsically linked to discovering my feminist voice and viewpoint – I feel like she’s been there for me, and helped me in a myriad of ways. There’s nothing but admiration and respect here, where Clementine is concerned. 

I was glad to read in ‘Fight Like a Girl’ the genesis of Clementine’s own feminism – with the opening line; “Of course I believe in equality … but I’m certainly not a feminist.” This was once Clementine’s worldview, just as it was mine – and for much the same reasons. I attended an all-girl school with fellow classmates who were hyperaware of lesbian connotations, and assumed the word “feminist” was code for “lesbian” and were more concerned with outward appearance than moral compass. I also appreciate that Clementine quotes from ‘How to Be a Woman’ by Caitlin Moran – the first nod (of many) scattered throughout the book, where Clementine traces her own origin story, much in the same way that many readers tie themselves to the author for their own feminist beginnings. 

I also loved the chapter ‘A League of Their Own’ – which is close to my heart for Clementine exploring as she often does, the link between pop-culture and feminism. She name-drops the likes of; ‘Parks and Recreation’, ‘Broad City’ and ‘Jessica Jones’ (to name a very few) television shows, for their core focus on the love story between female friends. She brings in Alison Bechdel’s test to discuss women in cinema … and while this whole chapter had me head-nodding along for all our cross-pollination of pop-culture obsessions, it’s also Clementine celebrating these highly visible achievements of women who are bringing feminism to the masses. And in particular; rejecting this notion that women are our own worst enemies;

If women can be convinced to mistrust one another instead of working together, patriarchal order is secure for another day.  

Nothing is off-limits in Clementine’s book. She discusses her past abortions, and the ‘Hate Male’ she receives on a daily basis (with gut-churning examples). And she pulls out her visceral critiques and subversions of a society that would rather teach girls how not to get raped, than boys not to rape;

Keep your legs closed – on public transport, in the living room, while watching TV, while lying in bed, while lying with someone else. Be the gatekeeper. Know that boys can’t help themselves, that it’s your job to help them learn self-control, but you must never, ever, ever tell them that, because it’s not fair to treat boys like they’re dangerous. Sacrifice yourself so that they might become better people. Be the scaffold they need to climb to heights greater than you’ll ever be supported to reach.
Make no mistake; Clementine Ford is a change-maker. She’s undoubtedly responsible for introducing feminism to a generation of women who couldn’t quite get behind their mothers’ Germaine Greer adoration, and she’s been at the forefront of the scarily evolving online dangers and abuse aimed at women … Clementine is up there with; Roxane Gay, Lena Dunham, Caitlin Moran, Anita Sarkeesian, Lindy West, Laurie Penny, Margaret Cho, Amber Rose, and so many more firebrand feminists who have taken the modern movement and made it work for them. And if I’m being absolutely honest – I wouldn’t know half those women mentioned above if not for reading Clementine’s columns these last few years, which started conversations for me, and within me … and this book will do the exact same thing for a lot of people. It will make them question everything, even themselves – men and women, boys and girls, non-binary – there is something in this book for everyone.

But more than anything, this book is a balm for the individual reader. Clementine lays herself bare – her mistakes, worst moments, darkest thoughts … she puts it all out there, so the reader doesn’t feel so alone. So I didn’t feel so alone. And for that, and so much more, I thank her.


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