WORDS | Raelee Lancaster
COVER PHOTO | Allen and Unwin Book Publishers
Ford is an Australian writer with a regular column in Daily Life and is also known for her ‘controversial’ posts on social media – posts which I, as a feminist myself, read gleefully. Her blasé, no-holds-barred attitude is on full-force as she publicly exposes the verbal assaults and threats she receives from people, namely men, on an almost daily basis. This attitude translates perfectly into “Fight Like a Girl”.
To put it simply, Ford delightfully articulates thoughts and beliefs I hold but did not know how to express. I particularly loved the chapter “The Good Guys”. This chapter attitude toward men in the feminist movement, a topic I still find uncomfortable talking about. I have an inherent need to be liked and I cling to the idiom “you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”. I try to appease my male friends when talking about feminism by including them and discussing issues that pertain to men. While I fully support and advocate for issues that seek to dismantle toxic masculinity and engage male victims of domestic violence, I often leave these conversations with friends feeling like I never spoke at all, like my voice was being drowned out. Reading “The Good Guys”, I began reconciling my own views on men with the feminist movement – and the first thing I wanted to tell a man to shut up. I wanted to put aside the proverbial honey jar and be loud and vocal and not be afraid to speak my mind. I didn’t, of course. But it was tempting.
Another chapter that really spoke to me was ‘Like a Virgin’. As a feminist, I frequently advocate for body positivity, body autonomy, and sexual freedom. Included in this is the topic of female masturbation. However, reading Ford discuss her own experiences surrounding this issue was eye-opening. Still, after all my advocacy, I was severely uncomfortable reading this chapter. The topic of female sexuality, especially masturbation, seemed taboo and, to put it simply, gross. You might call me a bad feminist, and you’d probably be right – but no one is perfect all the time. Instead of handing over my feminist badge, however, I questioned why I had this reaction. I was not unfamiliar with the topic. I have friends and family who are not shy about discussing sexuality, particularly their own experiences. Perhaps it was the unapologetic way in which Ford writes, or maybe it was the fact that “Fight Like a Girl” is a public resource where everyone could read it – a “talking about sex is fine, so long as it’s in private” mindset. It is difficult to admit that, even after all of my efforts to help others view female sexuality differently, I still couldn’t totally wrap my mind around.
I could go on, analysing every chapter and discussing how it changed my life, but I don’t think I could give Ford’s words justice. Sure, she excludes many people’s experiences from her book – the experiences of women of colour and transwomen are not mentioned. However, Ford acknowledges her privilege. She states that she can only discuss her own experiences and what she has learned because speaking on behalf of other women would be demeaning. Still, a lot of Ford’s experiences and opinions can be shared with a diverse range of people. It is because of this that I highly regard “Fight Like a Girl”.