It’s Saturday and I’m hell-bent on not thinking about my to-do list, or people I need to contact, emails I need to answer or projects I need to finish. I enjoy all that, but I have decided to allow in some down time – a little bit of balance is always nice.
So today, after a stroll around ol’ Millthorpe, I popped on my shortest shorts and singlet top to go outside in the glorious sun and devour Clementine Ford’s book, Fight Like a Girl. I’ve had it on the bedside table for a while – along with half a dozen other partially read books. I decided it would be my chosen sunbaking buddy.
At this stage, I’m only 95 pages in (out of almost 300), and I don’t know if I’ll finish it. I’m currently in a love/hate (or probably more like an “enjoy/annoy”) relationship with the book, but it does raise some important issues and at times is down-right hilarious. But I do wonder: will discussing many examples of a problem ever achieve anything? But I guess it’s the first step to change.
I’m sure some people will love the book, and I certainly don’t hate it. But it kinda reminds me of the woman who stood up at the writer’s workshop I recently attended who started ranting about the lack of opportunities for the particular genre of book she was interested in writing (gay youth fiction or something). She went on and on and on… but she hadn’t written the book, she just wanted to complain. I wanted to get up and yell: “Write the book, take the step, and then see what happens!” You can’t complain about things not happening if you yourself are not doing anything to make them happen. Maybe it would be this woman’s book that would open publishers’ eyes to the potential for that particular genre? Maybe just shut the fuck up already?
But back to Clementine.
I like her. I much prefer the articles she writes over the book, which are always clever and informative (if you actually read them before judging, and can spot when someone is simply being facetious, she isn’t a man-hater at all). Despite not being thrilled by the book I can relate to so many aspects of her life and many of her opinions.
I related to the view she held in her younger years that if she “played the game enough, smiled at the right moments and giggled in collusion whenever men put my gender (or even just me) down, that I might one day be deemed worthy of their attention and respect.”
I related to her view that women are overly sexualised. (This wasn’t one of her examples, but as an aside: why does Instagram think men’s nipples are OK but women’s nipples will harm children? How is this kind of gender bias remotely acceptable?) And yes, that was a lot to write in brackets.
I got bored with the section on makeup and magazines yada yada. My opinion is: don’t buy them. Don’t buy the miracle anti-aging serum because you’re not a idiot. But I did like her comment that she had “more chance of whittling my body down to look like Keira Knightey’s than I do waking up one morning looking like Christina Hendricks”.
Ha! Oh yes… if I go over 70kg I look exactly like Jabba the Hutt. Yep, exactly. While it’s tops these gorgeous women (such as Christina Hendricks) can be both big and amazingly proportioned, I have an issue with this ‘real women’ stuff. We’re all real. This is Clementine’s point – that even when we try to be inclusive, we (or at least, the media) still mess up royally and make it all about our appearance.
She also raises a good point about the “support” we get from men when it comes to our looks. In her words, the “calm-your-farmers-we-love-you-just-the-way-you-are gang of dudebros” say things like, “Relax girls! We think you’re all beautiful! We don’t care what you look like!” Eeek. As she points out, they’ve missed the point entirely.
Sadly, that section reminded me of my mother. After being diagnosed with breast cancer and being booked in for a mastectomy, my father generously told her, “Don’t worry, I’ll still love you – even when you have one boob.” In an unusual move for my mother (she was very much a product of our culture – always smiling and nodding and keeping the peace), she said, in a slightly annoyed tone, “Yes, of course you will.” (I heard, “Get stuffed, idiot,” and was secretly thrilled).
Maybe I should finish the book after all?