Susie: Kia ora, Susie Ferguson again. And welcome to part two of this incredible Zoom conversation with Clementine Ford. If you somehow missed part one, go back there and listen. You don’t want to miss it!
Also, some of this won’t make sense without it. So let’s get back to Australian feminist icon, writer, broadcaster, public speaker and most brazen of brazen human beings, Clementine Ford.
At the end of part one, we’d been speaking about the challenges of raising children in a patriarchy. Here she is once more, this time I’m starting with a frankly ridiculous question from me.
Susie: Do you have a kind of easy how-to guide in terms of how to raise a son as a feminist? Or indeed a girl as a feminist. Is it the same stuff? I know you don’t have a daughter. I was kind of thinking about this.
Clementine: No, but I am a girl. I probably have a better insight into how to raise a girl having been one my whole life than I do how to raise a son, because I’ve got a lot of ideas and a lot of political thoughts that I’ve spent a lot of time assessing in my own head and developing in regards to raising boys, but my son’s three. It’s still a very early stage of the project for me.
My approach with him, and as I said I think people’s approach should be with their sons is to allow them to be who they are. Provided of course that who they are is not harming anyone else. I’m not saying indulge your sons if they’re little, if they’re cruel to other people or if they like to hit people, I’m not saying, well he just likes to do that so don’t shame him for it. But in teaching him that it’s wrong, focus on what kind of human we want to be, what kind of community we want to be a part of. So when it comes to cleaning, etc, or picking up after yourself, I mean my son’s job is to pick up his toys. I don’t, I help him, because he’s three, but I say to him repeatedly, “This is not my job, I’m not doing this for you”, I’ve turned into my mum, “I’m not your maid”, but I also remind him we live in a community. We live in a house and every member of a house has to do their part to keep the house clean and tidy and to respect each other who lives in it.
And I want him to not feel ashamed for his emotions. He loves to paint his nails, but he also loves cars, he loves Lego, but he also loves to put his sparkly dress on sometimes. And there’s nothing that he can do that would ever make me say, “You are less of a boy because of that and you should feel ashamed of that”. And very luckily, his father is exactly the same and takes the same approach. And I know there are a lot of children being raised in households where mothers are trying to do that work, but they’re maybe being met with more patriarchal exacting standards from men, and my difficult response to that as well is, and again it’s not going to be easy for all people but it’s something that I would like to at least plant the seed in for women in particular who are hearing this and for men who maybe are exhibiting those behaviours, is that if your partner is using shame against your child, you need to have a very long and hard think about whether or not that relationship is working for you. Because you may love him, he may make you happy, and you may feel scared at the thought of being alone, but this is your child. You are the person who is charged with the biggest responsibility of protecting your child. And if you choose to protect a grown man who is instilling feelings of shame in your child, and those feelings of shame will manifest later on either in harm against other people or harm against themselves, and certainly a fractured relationship with their parent, then you’re letting your child down.
Susie: Was it a surprise to you, or I guess what was your reaction when you found out, when you were pregnant, that you were having a boy? Or did you find out? Before the birth.
Clementine: I wasn’t really that concerned about finding out the sex of the baby. My partner wanted to find, well, my partner then, my son’s dad, he’s one of those people who needs to know what’s happening. And so we found out and he had said to me…I was sure my body could only create a girl, sort of like, of course I’m going to have a girl, I’m a staunch feminist, I’m going to have a girl
Susie: This was exactly what happened to me. Okay, yes.
Clementine: And he said, “it’s going to be a boy, it’s going to be a boy”. And obviously at this point I’d like to offer the disclaimer that, you know, sex is very different to gender. I’m fairly certain that the child that we had that was assigned male at birth is a boy, but of course we are open to the possibility of anything changing later on and we will accept our child with love, and enthusiasm and grace. So let’s just say I have a boy, I have a son.
When I found out it was a boy, I was shocked mainly because I had so strongly connected the idea that the foetus that I was carrying was a girl. But after about 30 minutes I really adjusted to the idea and then immediately from that point, and I will say as well that I had a horrible pregnancy, I suffered terribly from prenatal anxiety, and it was nothing to do with the sex of the baby. It was because of the physical state of being pregnant was so, I hated the lack of control that I had over the situation. I wanted to race ahead, weeks ahead, and just, I knew that something big and terrifying and life-consuming was happening and the waiting period, the forced waiting room that I was in was intolerable to me.
So I suffered terribly from prenatal anxiety. But as soon as I found out I was having a boy I just thought, “oh cool, well that’s the baby that I’m having”. And when he arrived of course, like a lot of women I felt towards him in a very animalistic way. And that was that there is this small creature here, it is my responsibility to take care of them, they’ve come from me, and I had some primal connection to him. But it took my brain a little bit longer to catch up.
And again that was nothing to do with the sex of the baby. It was because a lot of women have that experience after they have children. And we’re made to feel like we have to say, “well I fell in love instantly, it was the most amazing day of my life, I’m so changed now as a person”. Whereas actually the reality is not just, it’s not just the transition to being mothers that kind of hits us like a truck. It’s also the birth, for a lot of us, is extremely traumatic, and I had a traumatic birth. And we’re not allowed to say as women, “I had a traumatic birth” and I was left with trauma and some form of PTSD from that experience, because we’re told, “well, the only thing that matters is a healthy baby”. And we’re also derided, and have people say, “oh get over it, stop sulking, women do this every day, it’s not a big deal”. It is true that women and people give birth every day. Millions of births every year. And isn’t that fucking extraordinary?
The most extraordinary of things, the most transformative of physical events is something that millions of us do every year. And we’re not given any credit for it, and when we talk about it, when we try to even speak openly and honestly about what that experience has been like for us, we’re told to get over it, “it’s not that big a deal”. Really? Really, Darren? When was the last time you pushed a baby out of your butt? I said this earlier, but again it’s one of the grossest insults that is levelled at women, that this work that we do, literally the work of perpetuating the human species, is dismissed as nothing. But you know, like a man develops a fucking bidet on Kickstarter and oh, he’s a genius.
Susie: I remember being really confused that I was having a boy, because I didn’t understand how my body could produce anything other than femaleness, and my husband thought that was very funny. I have to say I remember, the best piece of advice that anyone gave me, cause people love giving you advice before you have babies, but the best bit of advice that I was given was a female colleague who kind of sidled up to me at work and said to me, “If you don’t love your baby straight away, it’s okay, it’ll come”. And at the time I remember thinking, “Okay, whatever”.
Clementine: “Weird. Of course I’ll love my baby straight away”.
Susie: “Of course I’ll love my baby straight away, because this is, you know, this will happen. It’s the natural order of things”. It’s not the natural order of things. I didn’t love either of my babies straight away, because they’re humans that you have to get to know.
Clementine: And they’ve also done this thing to you.
Susie: Yeah. And it’s sore.
Clementine: It’s very, for a lot of us, it’s not that we blame the child for it, it’s not as simple as that. It’s a lot more nuanced and complex, that this creature has come into our life, and we take care of it and our responsibility is to take care of, but it’s done this thing to our bodies and our minds, and it also spends the first few weeks of its life screaming at us. And the cluster feeding, everything about the job, it’s why a lot of women say that they’re so grateful when their baby smiles at them for the first time. Around five weeks in. Suddenly feels like all the work is worth it.
Susie: I didn’t feel the work was worth it, to be honest, the smile.
Clementine: For the one little smile, yeah.
Susie: One other thing that I wanted to talk about with the pandemic. Physical distancing, social distancing, whatever people want to call it, is sort of being used a lot in New Zealand, two metre space, and the first time I went out to the supermarket it felt like going out shopping in Gilead here. You were kind of looking over your shoulder the whole time, you were looking to see how far people were away from you the whole time, and I just kind of thought, I wonder if this is the same for men. And for the first time ever in their lives, they are perhaps realising what it’s like to be a woman walking around in the world and looking over their shoulder all the time.
Clementine: I hadn’t thought about it from that perspective, but, I mean, I think that if there is an insight it’s a very slight insight, and of course it’s different too, because the fear isn’t that someone’s going to, the fear is that they’ll be infected, it’s not that they’re going to be traumatically assaulted. Although, men of course face the biggest risk of violence from other men in public. And in Australia in Sydney, when a few men died by being punched in one punch attacks, the response from the government was very swift. They introduced Sydney’s lock-out laws. The language that we use to talk about, previously they’d been called king hits, and then the language suddenly changed and they were called “coward punches”, because we needed to let men know that if they did this they’re a coward, and the worst thing a man can be is a coward.
It’s interesting that the risk against men’s lives and the loss of sons and the loss of husbands, etc, was taken very seriously. As it should be. Absolutely should be. It terrifies me the thought that my son could grow and be, you know, just casually walking around the city one night and be killed in a one punch attack. It’s awful. And yet domestic abuse and domestic homicide and the violence that women are most likely to experience in their life, which is perpetrated by men known to them, in private, when you talk about, can we change society to maybe address that so that all of these women aren’t growing up with trauma, oh, “it’s not all men. Not all men do that. What about the good men? Why don’t you acknowledge the good men?” Oh, I don’t know, if you show me some then I’ll acknowledge them.
Susie: We’re very compliant though as well, aren’t we? It’s kind of been seen in the lockdown that the vast majority of people in Australia and New Zealand are following the rules and doing the right thing, and it all actually happened very quickly. I think in New Zealand it was over the space of about eight days, we went from total freedom, and kind of walked into this level four lockdown. And it’s interesting that when we want to change stuff, when we feel we have to change stuff, we can do it really fast.
Clementine: Absolutely. And this is a thought that I had early on, when Australia, I was observing Australia going through the same compliance, and Australians love to, I’m sure New Zealanders are the same, Australians love to kind of pride themselves on being, well we’re battlers and we question the system. No no no no no. Australia’s very comfortable being the kind of country that defends mining companies from having to pay tax. So there’s an adherence to social order, and to dominance. And one of the things that we’ve done really well is being compliant. And it did make me think, wow, imagine if we just applied the same zero-tolerance policy to sexism, and racism, and homophobia. Instead of seeking always to find the mitigating circumstance, or the excuse, or responding by saying, well if you say that we need to have a zero-tolerance policy for sexism, you’re not acknowledging all the men who aren’t sexist, but also what about freedom of speech?
Another example that I used before the pandemic, although the pandemic will of course be an even better one now, is that when Australia banned smoking in restaurants in the mid-90s, 1997 or 98 I think it might have been I think, initially everyone was like, “well, I can’t believe the government’s taking our smoking away from us in restaurants”. People love to go out to a restaurant and smoke inside. It just will not stand. And of course everyone quickly adapted to it and realised that smoking in restaurants is gross. And I say this as an ex-smoker. And then ten years later when the government decided to, and this was state-based governments as well, Victoria did this before South Australia where I was living at the time, but when they decided that they were going to ban smoking in pubs, people were like, “well they definitely won’t put up with that. What about all the old barflies that love going and sitting there and having a beer and a cigarette after a hard day’s yakker, they’ll never tolerate it”. And of course now, if you lit a cigarette up in a pub, people would not only be like, “what is that disgusting smell?” But they would look at you like you just pulled your pants down to take a giant shit on the floor. That is how much of a pariah you would be made to feel.
Because we love being told what to do. And people can adapt very easily to legislation and to socially-enforced rules that require better behaviour of us. There are all sorts of things that we can point to in society and say this is bad behaviour and we’re going to change it, but the problem with any ism, sexism, racism, etc, or any phobia, the problem is that it feels to people who enjoy those things that they’re being targeted. And everyone is so defensive about the notion of being targeted.
So if you say “well we’re going to outlaw sexism”, “oh well, you can’t do that, can’t take my rights away”. What is it, Uncle Roger, about not being able to tell a rape joke that really oppresses you? Or what is it about not being able to call Jacinda whatever names you want to use against her that are definitely sexualised in nature because you don’t like her politics? And you say, “well every politician’s always criticised, it’s part of the job”. Yeah okay, but did you send a rape threat to the male leader of the opposition? Did you talk about what needs to be done to him to shut him up? Did you tell any man in office that he needs to have a cock in his mouth so that he won’t gibber as much?
Susie: I guess as we begin to look, come out hopefully of lockdown and the pandemic somehow at some point will stop, hopefully, I wonder whether we will attempt to go back to just, oh, whatever the old thing was, or whether this is the opportunity to kind of press the reset button and start something new, and maybe this is the hopeful part of me that’s thinking, this is the opportunity to start something different. And thinking specifically about men, and patriarchy, what could men do to change their ways, their thinking, as we have this opportunity because of the reset?
Clementine: Um… The thing is, this is one of the things that came out of my conversation with Faustina yesterday as well, when white people say, well what can I do, what can I do? And the truth is, the fact that men don’t know what they can do tells me everything I need to know about how committed they’ve been to unlearning these lessons. If they’re interested now, great. Read some books by women. There’s so many feminist texts out there that they can read, and that they can read even when those things make them feel uncomfortable. They can seek out the work of women. They can listen to podcasts like this, and instead of having a knee-jerk reaction where they want to be excused from the problem, where they want to hear that disclaimer at the start, well of course not all men, so that means I’m not talking about you, Bob, I know that you’re a good guy, so you can do your dutiful part and listen to this or read this and pat yourself on the back and know that you’ve done what’s required of you, but actually make no changes in your life. No. You need to feel uncomfortable. You need to become comfortable with the idea of being uncomfortable.
Because it’s only through having a mirror placed up to ourselves, whatever structural privilege we experience, it’s only by having that mirror placed up and us seeing ourselves in all of our ugliest flaws and our ugliest ways of being, and the ways in which we also turn our backs on being part of that solution, and being as Ijeoma Oluo says, working out how to dismantle the piece of the puzzle that benefits us, it’s only by being uncomfortable in that moment that we can actually create change. And be part of creating a better world, and be part of the solution.
I’m not interested in hearing from men about how good and decent they think they are, or, you know, why aren’t they being acknowledged. If you need to be acknowledged for not raping women, or for not killing your wife, or for not being a Bad Guy, there’s some ways that you still need to go in really modelling gender equality in your life. Because at what point are women allowed to stop giving you medals for that? And why should we be so grateful?
Susie: It’s the thing I say to my husband. You have to turn up and be an adult, and don’t expect to get a cookie.
Clementine: Yeah, and how many conversations are you, are all of your conversations about feminism and gender equality had with the women in your life? Where you are trying to sit, kind of lean into that feeling of like, well I’m a really good ally, because look at me talking about feminism to this woman. Or, are you going to the more uncomfortable spaces in your life? Your mates at the pub. The guy that you overhear saying something at the pub. The men who you work with, who think that sexist jokes are fine and dandy. Are you going and speaking up against them, or are you saying, “oh well I’m not participating therefore I’m not really a part of it, you know, it made me a bit uncomfortable”. Do you expect the women in your life to not only do all of the domestic labour in the home, but also do all of the risky emotional labour of being the ones to stand up and challenge that behaviour? Don’t slide into the DMs of a woman and say, “Thanks for speaking up against that, you know, I’ve got your back”. I don’t give a shit. What I would rather is that you did the work so I didn’t have to.
Susie: When you came to speak in Wellington, you came and talked, and I knew my husband wouldn’t be doing anything, so I bought tickets and I rang him up and I said, “Right, so we’re going to see Clementine Ford talk”. And he was like, “oh, okay”. And I said, “I haven’t asked you if you’re free or if you want to go, because I don’t care, because you need to hear what she has to say”. And I wonder, and I worry actually, if women are having really fantastic conversations, but how far does it penetrate through to get the men on board, and do we need the men on board?
Clementine: So here’s a thing. Oftentimes I’ll hear from women at events like the one that you went to, they might ask a question, or they might speak to me afterwards, or they might email me. And they’ll say, you know, “my husband, he’s a great guy”. They always preface it with “he’s really a wonderful man”. “But he just thinks that feminism is nonsense”. And I remember one woman in particular in Perth, she was probably in her late 50s, and she stood up and she said, “my husband’s a wonderful man, he’s a great man, I love him, but he thinks that feminism is nonsense, and when I told him I was coming to see you speak tonight, he laughed at me. What do I do? How do I get him on board?” I think women ask that question, and they want an easy answer, and they want that answer to be, “here’s a ten point plan that I can give you that you can take home and you can magically transform your husband into someone who respects you”.
Because that’s really what it comes down to, is that their husbands don’t respect them. Their husbands respect them in so much as the women that they’ve married fulfil the role that they expect of them. And that role is to make their lives comfortable, to indulge them, to have sex with them occasionally, probably to cook their dinner for them and to do the bulk of the housework. But certainly to never make them feel uncomfortable about what all of that means. And I think a lot of men don’t even realise that they don’t respect their wives. They don’t respect their wives or their partners in the sense that they have no curiosity about their lives. Only a man who has never spoken to his female partner about what her life has been like as a woman, who has never asked her questions about the things that he may be seeing on the news, you know, rape culture, sexual violence, domestic abuse, who’s never heard a statistic about violence against women and come to the woman that he lives with, who has had children with him, who cares for him, and probably has done those things for years, never said to her, “I read this really terrible thing to day, has this been your experience? Can we have a chat about that?”
Only a man who has never done any of those things could turn around and laugh at a woman for exploring a political ideology that interests her and that has relevancy in her life. So the fact is that these men want women to exist for them alone. And they’re not interested when those women demonstrate to them that they have an interior landscape that excludes them by necessity.
So. What can we be doing to get more men on board?
I think the question should be, what should men do to demonstrate to the women who’ve given large portions of their life to them that they deserve it? Because most of them don’t. And women should be asking themselves, am I in a relationship that, okay, maybe he doesn’t hit me, maybe he doesn’t abuse me in any kind of seriously identifiable way, but does he respect me? Does he show interest in me? Not me as a mother and as a wife. But does he show interest in my life? And this one’s the most important one, particularly for women who are around my age, 38, who maybe have young children. Do I want to wake up at 50 or 60 or even 70, and wonder what happened to my life?
Because it’s never too late to make yourself a priority. And it’s never too late to say to yourself, to look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I am someone who deserves respect. I only get one chance to live this life, and I am not going to get to the end of it and realise that I made myself second”. I placed myself second in my own life, because society told me that my job was to be a mother and a wife. And I did those things for someone who didn’t even care enough about me to ask what my life was like. Do we need men on board? I think that if men want to become part of the feminist project, that’s great. Read some books, listen to what women have to say, lean into that discomfort like I said, but don’t make it all about you, and don’t expect to be leaders within it.
Because the truth is that women don’t need men on board feminism. We don’t need to be nice to men in order to make change happen. The suffragettes, for all of their failings, were not nice to men in order to secure the vote. They did it together, they worked in solidarity with each other, and what they really did was upend the patriarchal lessons that we’ve learned as women, which teaches us that we need to be divided from each other in order to succeed in this world. It is only through solidarity with other women, and through connection and recognition with other women, that we will actually move forward and achieve the goal of liberation from the things that oppress us. It’s not through men. It’s through ourselves. Because we’ve always had the power. We’ve just been told that we didn’t.
Susie: You use the word political. Would you ever go into politics?
Clementine: I’ve been asked that question a lot.
Susie: Sorry to ask it again.
Clementine: No, it’s an interesting one. I mean, I don’t think so. Primarily because I think I can create more change outside of politics with the freedom to say whatever I like. I mean, the real benefit that I have, and the privilege, one of the many privileges that I have over lots of other people, is that I work for myself, and I am not beholden to any employer, and my job is to be a feminist scold and a ratbag.
So there’s nothing I can do or say that would surprise people. It’s a lot more liberated of an existence than having to go to work at, say, a bank, or a financial institution, or politics, or even retail, and have to put up with any kind of sexist behaviour or nonsense around me.
Look at all the enormous amounts of sexism that Jacinda Ardern experiences, and Jacinda can’t do what I do, which is to tell them to get fucked. Or to mock them in response. I mean, she’s got a lot more power than I do in lots of other ways, I get that, but I think that that would probably slowly eat away at me, the fact that I, for women in political roles in particular, and any woman in any kind of prominent role where they’re answerable to shareholders, and in this case the public are the shareholders, that they have to do what is required of women all the time, which is just to suck it up and smile sweetly in response. And I don’t think I could do that.
The thing is that I know, because of the benefit that I have of my job, I know how freeing and wonderful it feels to be able to stand up for yourself, and to say whatever you like in response to whatever it is that you get.
People often say, “well how do you deal with the abuse?” I deal with it because I can say what I like in response to it. And I wish that all women knew, and were able to know, and for a lot of them it’s obviously a lot more of a dangerous predicament than me, I do acknowledge that, but in an ideal world, in an ideal world we wouldn’t deal with these things, but in an ideal world women would be able to say whatever they liked in response. And be able to unleash their voice. And find their fury. Not be subjected to the typical response to that behaviour which is to gaslight us, and call us crazy and hysterical. Because of course an angry woman is a terrifying woman, and so we’re made to feel like we’re somehow wrong.
Men can be angry all the time, and that’s just being stalwart, that’s being assertive. But women who are angry, and we’ve got a lot more to be angry about than men, women who are angry are dismissed as crazy.
Susie: Hysterical. I think anger’s one of my favourite emotions.
Clementine: I don’t like when my anger feels out of control. Not because I’m scared of the impact on other people, but because it’s a frightening emotion to not be in control of. But when my anger is precise, and fierce and razor-sharp, then I feel so powerful. And there’s that wonderful clip of Uma Thurman after MeToo really started to sweep the globe, Uma Thurman was asked about her response, and you can see that she’s bristling with anger in it, and says, I’ve been waiting until I’m less angry to speak. Because, she says because angry woman are treated in a certain way, and when I am less angry I will say what I have to say. And I thought even in that, where she, you could sense that there was powerful rage bubbling in her that she didn’t feel like she was yet in control of, the way that she expressed that was so precise, and we need to become more well practiced as women, and to embrace what that anger can do and be used for. Because we’re entitled to it.
Susie: Very last thing. Is there any question you’ve ever wanted to answer that you’ve never been asked?
Clementine: I’m sure there’s lots. Can I think of one on the spot? I suppose an easier response to that is that, are there any things I like talking about other than feminism? And there’s lots of things I like talking about. I love makeup, surprise! I really love to cook. I love talking about love. And not just romantic love, but, I’m writing a book at the moment, my third book will be coming out, it’s called How We Love, and it’s a book of memoir and personal essays. Very different from anything I’ve written, or my first two books. And It’s about human connection, and heartbreak in lots of different ways, and the friendships that we love, and what it means now, very conveniently through the pandemic, what it means to love when we can’t touch each other.
And I like talking about Survivor, obviously. I was chatting with Dave, your producer, about Survivor. I mean, this is the thing, is that the work that I do is, I’m associated with feminism of course, but no one assumes that someone who works as an electrician is only interested in talking about electrician stuff. But I think, obviously anyone who kind of has a social justice platform, and particularly with feminists, it’s very easy for people to reduce us just to that. Feminism informs every single thing that I do, and it’s a huge part of me. It’s like a life-long companion, I would never be without her. But it would be a mistake for people to assume that I’m not a fully rounded complex human being capable of a broad range of emotions. And I actually think that when people talk to me, outside of obviously this podcast, we’ve been focusing on feminism, but when I’m able to have a conversation with people, or when they see me in different lights, I think that it surprises them often, because they wouldn’t imagine that there would be this softness to me. But I find that’s also because we associate softness with weakness. And to me, softness is actually an enormously strong thing to be, to be willingly soft and vulnerable. I find vulnerability very difficult. But to be soft and open I think demonstrates power, not a lack of.
Susie: You’ve talked about Jacinda Ardern a little bit.
Clementine: Jacinda, I love you!
Susie: There is a quote that I will now horribly misquote because I can’t find it fast enough, but she talks about, don’t assume that compassion and kindness is anything other than being very powerful.
Clementine: It’s absolutely true, and I think one of the most powerful things that someone like Jacinda Ardern does, I’m not saying every single political choice she’s made is, isn’t it funny that we always have to offer that disclaimer? People write to me and say, I don’t agree with everything you say. It’s like, nor should you. That shows that you’re a critical thinking human. Jacinda’s, one of the most powerful things that Jacinda represents is the notion that women can ascend to power, and not transform themselves into what we associate power with, which is masculinity.
And I don’t mean in terms of the way that she looks. I mean that she has brought to the role a sense of compassion and empathy and really upended this idea that, people think that we need to establish gender equality within the system that we already have, but the system that we have was built by men to service men, and built by white supremacy to service white supremacy, etc, etc.
What we need to do is envision as a community what a new system could look like. And Jacinda Ardern shows what it looks like when a woman leads. And not all women would lead like her, but the fact that she, in her tenure as Prime Minister, has not only had a baby, but also gone through quite a few natural disasters and now a global pandemic, and has led with strong, stalwart leadership in a way that, certainly based on the feedback that I’m seeing from people in New Zealand, makes people feel very safe and cared for. I remember when she did the press conference for children wanting to ask questions about Covid, and my friend who is not a mother said, “A woman did that because she thinks about the children. That’s a mother doing that.”
Susie: So instead of talking about feminism, what should we have talked about?
Clementine: No, I wanted to talk about this. It was wonderful.
Susie: I know, but we could have talked about makeup and cooking
Clementine: I don’t know that the listeners would have loved that as much.
Susie: Maybe not. I wondered how my husband would respond to coming to see you talk. I said, honestly, tell me, “what do you think? Is she too confronting for you? What was it like?” And he just went, “she’s amazing”.
Clementine: Well good, you can stay with him then.
Susie: Well. For now.
Clementine: You know, people want to say that I’m a man-hater, and that my message is totally hostile to men and how dare I be like this and you know, an evolved man, or a man who is more evolved than other men, and one who isn’t afraid of examining himself, and examining his role in the world that we live in, couldn’t possibly listen to what I have to say and feel attacked. Because actually, maybe this is what I would love people to know about me, because I think that if they gave me a chance then I could bring more people over to my side and to the message, but my message doesn’t come from, and my politics and my political stance doesn’t come from a place of hostility or hatred of men.
And I never usually offer that disclaimer because it shouldn’t matter. It actually, surprisingly probably to some people, comes from a place of enormous love for men. And when I say love for men, I don’t mean that men are great I just love them so much they’re so wonderful. But because I see inside, the soft squidgy centre that has been taken away from them, and that has been made to absorb all of that shame that patriarchy requires of them to be in service to it.
And I look at my son, who is yet to learn what the world demands of him, and will demand of him as a man, and I want to protect him from that. I want men to be able to express themselves in more emotionally healthy ways, and I want them to be able to work in solidarity and companionship and true equality with women, because I know not only will that liberate women from oppression, but it will also liberate men from being unable to connect, to truly understand what it means to love.
Susie: Clementine Ford. Indomitable. Unapologetic and 100% Brazen. I’m so looking forward to that new book. Her first two – Fight Like a Girl, and Boys Will Be Boys, are brilliant. Get your hands on a copy of those and read them if you haven’t already.
Thank you so much Clem for such an incredible conversation.
Now if you want to subscribe to Brazen and you haven’t done so already, I won’t judge…much.
You can find us in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts from. And maybe pop in a review if you like. In fact yeah, go review it now after you’re all inspired from Clem. Go on. You know you want to.
Keep visiting the website, brazen dot world for more content.
Brazen’s hosted by me, Susie Ferguson, and was created by me, Lou O’Reilly, Vic MacLennan, and David Cormack.
Brazen’s produced and edited by Melody Thomas, and William Saunders engineered this episode.
Artwork by Pepper Raccoon.
All transcriptions are done by Emma Hart.
Ka kite anō.