Book Review: Clementine Ford’s Fight Like A Girl is an uncompromising and important feminist polemic

Clementine Ford’s latest book Fight Like A Girl packs punches in the best possible way. The feminist commentator has penned a volume that is like a personal polemic; one that is not dissimilar to the work of Lindy West, Caitlin Moran, Tara Moss et al. Fight Like A Girl then, is another important and welcome addition to the ongoing dialogue about contemporary feminism, the issues that are impacted by our history and the current state of structural inequality.

At its core, Fight Like A Girl is a book that covers what it means to be a girl or a woman living in today’s society. Ford uses her own personal anecdotes and stories to pen unapologetic essays about eating disorders, online trolls, rape culture, domestic violence and more. Ford’s arguments are often quite well-considered and thoughtful, and are important and relevant to everyone, not just her target female audience.

Like with her columns for the Daily Life website, in Fight Like A Girl Ford constructs arguments with great insight and aplomb. Some of her ideas are controversial and polarising, they might challenge your thinking, but this is also the hallmark of great writing. One such example is the notion that the support for the white ribbon campaign (a national violence prevention movement) might perhaps be better placed elsewhere, like in organisations working on the frontline that actually help survivors of family violence and rape.

Ford is also brutally honest and unapologetic in her book and it is clear that she does not tolerate nor advocate bullshit. It’s interesting to see how she handles some of the contradictions that women typically face. For instance, she describes the notion that women are told to stay safe and protect themselves in order to say out of “compromising” situations (i.e. ones where they could get raped and/or hurt.) Yet she also argues that we’re often told to be “nice” to men because some may be socially awkward and quote, “Can’t a man even speak to a woman these days?” We’re basically damned if we do and damned if we don’t.

In Fight Like A Girl Ford also tackles society’s double standards and contradictions, tackling these head-on like a fearless heroine. She questions why men are allowed to be considered “Committed bachelors” while single women over a certain age are “Spinsters” and/or “Cat ladies.” She also advocates anger over complacency because at least this is galvanising people to actually do something. In presenting all this information, Ford has constructed a well-written book that is easy to follow and understand. Which really means it should be considered essential reading by all.

Fight Like A Girl is a feisty call to arms for modern women. It’s also a book that offers up some potential conversation starters and much food for thought with its refusal to compromise or pander to any specific reader or individual. All that’s left to say is keep on fighting the good fight Clem so that one day we may all enter the ring with you.

Fight Like A Girl by Clementine Ford is available now through Allen & Unwin.

Clementine Ford will be one of the authors in attendance at next month’s Sydney Writers’ Festival.