The second true statement; I am a feminist.
I’ve never been silent about that, but I’ve never been as properly informed (and I still have so much more learning to do from strong women the world over) or so fired up to scream it at the top of my lungs. What made me a feminist was my upbringing with a strong mother who told me to be who I wanted to be and a father who never treated me like the girl society demanded me to be. I’m also a feminist because I’ve suffered the sexism in my daily life and hate that shit.
Fight Like a Girl is the feminist manifesto that has fired up women and angered so many men.
I loved it. It evoked a range of emotions with a frank telling of Ford’s experiences as a woman in this world; from her childhood to her present self. Mostly, I felt shocked. I’m not alone in being harassed by men. I’m shocked that some of the stuff that’s happened to me I’ve shrugged off as being another day or another night out with dickheads, but at least I’m lucky and not ended up in a worse situation (how the hell did that idea become a normal thing to think? I’m shocked that I can rationalise it as being lucky). I’m shocked that so many men I know respond exactly how she described it when a rape is reported on the news, or a woman speaks her opinion, or a woman identifies herself as a feminist.
When I was reading this book at work I had to defend myself from the horrible things the men were saying. Sure, I didn’t do it the way that I truly wanted to (especially since one of those men, who also happened to be in management, was talking over the top of me to explain why sexism doesn’t exist in this day and age) but I tried to tell them all too fuck off. That there is a difference between feminist and lesbian (they have some misconception that feminist and lesbian are somehow synonyms). It was odd how this scene paralleled what Ford describes in her book.
And even more odd that it was the first time in that workplace that I’ve spoken about being a feminist.
The strongest point she makes, for me, is about “the good guys”. Those men who aren’t the dickheads because they don’t abuse women so you should be feeling lucky if you know one of those guys and congratulate them for being… well, what they should be; fucking decent human beings. Seriously, that’s how it should be. Women shouldn’t feel lucky they’re not being abused, they should just not be abused. That’s how it’s supposed to be. Duh. “Rights, not privileges.” It is a right to be safe and respected, not a privilege. So I’m not going to say “not all men are assholes” because my anger is directed at those who do harass and abuse and those who do nothing when they see it happen before them.
I can share so many occasions where I have been harassed and let down because the men around me stood back and watched me deal with it on my own; a boss who allowed a truck driver to yell at me because I dared to direct him on site; a friend who didn’t step in when I was blatantly telling his mate to stop trying to give me a hug; six male work colleges who said nothing when a first aid trainer casually touched my hip and ass and had the nerve to laugh it off as harmless when I called him on it (but I did have good managers who listened to me when I reported it to them and asked me what I wanted to be done next, which that is part of their job and part of being decent human beings). And so many more occasions. As well as so many stories of friends who have been raped and abused.
This review, I realise, has said little about the book. Mostly because this is the reaction that it incited from me. I am angry. I am proud. And I don’t want to be silent.
Read it and educate yourself as to why feminism is not only still relevant today but is what we need to stop the hatred towards women and make sure the coming generations of women have full access to their rights to exist. Because that’s how it should be. So go on, find your copy of Fight Like a Girl and destroy those stupid stereotypes the men keep sneering about. Read and be angry.