I know. How can (and why is) a 'white cis male' promoting pro-female social commentator, Clementine Ford? Especially when, in my opinion (and I'm hoping an "in my opinion" caveat excuses any missteps along this tightrope), a good portion of feminist rhetoric resembles male vilification. Well, perhaps best answered by another enlightened female. Mens rights activist 'The Wooly Bumblebee', when stating: "There is still a need for rational feminism".
While some, in my opinion, employ feminism to merely condemn, all that still doesn't reduce the core issue at stake here - universal gender equality. So though I oppose crazy notions propagated by radical feminists, and consequently often find myself recoiling, I'm still more interested in hearing people out - in particular, those I don't identify with per se. As doing so, I deeply believe, helps one think more laterally. ie. by puncturing those unhelpful 'echo chambers'.
I recently watched Clementine on the ABC's 'Q & A' program. A platform where she's debated issues regarding international aid, gay marriage, global warming, indigenous Australians, even Safe Schools. During her most recent appearance, expressing: "I believe...that the Safe Schools program should be mandatory. And this is what it comes down to, is that absolutely nobody is going to be hurt by teaching kindness, by teaching...love, by teaching an embrace of diversity..." (58.30).
You may know Clementine from other snippets of her illustrious career. For instance, guest-panelist at the 'All About Women Conference 2015'. Once again, admiring her broad-mindededness: "We have to think radically differently about what that equality looks like. And it has to extend beyond having women on boards, and having a small percentage of particularly-prescribed women, who are middle class most often, white, educated, typically from Western backgrounds; having them achieve equality within those structures and so that nothing really changes". (29.50)
Do I myself see a need? Well, in my opinion, there's certainly negativity, bordering vindictiveness, oft being touted. Then again, I've witnessed that from anti-feminists too. Personally, I do believe verifiable barriers remain entrenched; which biologically affect women (or mothers) more. Not to mention, cultural shortcomings perpetuating antiquated anti-female customs. Not ignoring men. But I think Clementine is a rarity anyone can be inspired by. As for her feisty feminist school of thought, something I encourage you to cross-examine before judging.
Clementine will be appearing at Realm Library on May 12th, 2016.
She'll be discussing how she remains that barefaced feminist crusader she's renowned for, in the face of online intimidation.
To book tickets. A sample of our Q & A (not to be confused with the aforementioned TV program) is below. To view it in it's entirety.
Q: You've covered the gender pay gap. Given existing legislation and a dominance of female university graduates, what institutional barriers remain neglected?
A: One of the biggest challenges facing women and other marginalized groups in the workplace is the idea that we live in a meritocracy. We don't. We live in a society where gender bias and patriarchy has ensured that the people with both decision making and bargaining power are largely white, cis-het men. The majority of those men - whether deliberately or not - are invested in homogeneity instead of diversity. This makes sense, because homogeneity within those spheres ensures that they maintain their grip on power. It's telling that there's a dominance of female university graduates and yet the pay gap starts from the very moment they enter the workforce. The people favoured by these structures argue that bias and gaps don't exist, because they are still required to compete with each other. They don't realise that there are levels and levels beneath them of people who don't even get to see the field simply because they don't fit into that preferenced niche.
Q: The internet's brimming with commentary on Star Wars and the Rogue One hoopla. In the midst of all this, there's been reports substantiating JJ Abram's choice to actively promote feminism. You've discussed how Hollywood have traditionally mishandled gender. Are such efforts an improvement?
A:They're definitely a step forward. It's good to know there are people with power in the industry who are thinking about these things and working hard to change them. Interestingly, Rey's character in The Force Awakens is perceived as the 'hero', but she still didn't have the most lines or screen time.
Q: You'll be at Realm in Ringwood on May 12th. What issues will you be covering?
A: I'll be talking about how to keep flying your feminist flag in the face of rampant online harassment.
Q: Who do you encourage to come along?
A: It would be great to see more of the men who claim to be solid blokes turn up to hear a woman actually speak about her experiences fighting sexism, but aside from that I always love to see women's faces in a crowd.