One of the things I like about catching the train at the ungodly hours that I do is that I always get a seat. Sometimes, I sit and watch those around me but quite often, I read. eBooks are great, but I’m a bit of a purist; for me, nothing beats the real deal. I love old-fashioned paper books.
On this day…
This one particular day, I was huddled in my seat. It was very early in the morning and my fellow commuters were in their own little bubbles. People were snoozing, perusing the paper, tapping away at laptops or desperately gulping from thermal mugs in an effort to convince their bodies that it was okay to be awake, despite the darkness outside. As for me, I was halfway through a new book. My neck was a little stiff, from memory. I had been gazing at the book in my lap. To combat this, I looked up, lifting my book up higher. I was inadvertently displaying the cover, which was something I hadn’t even thought about, because why would I?
A flicker of movement caught my eye. A man, dressed for the office and clutching a coffee, had walked down the steps into the carriage. He stood, transfixed, in the aisle. He was staring at something, looking faintly horrified. It was a scene straight out of a classic vampire film. He was the hissing vamp, whose dinner plans had been thwarted by a brave young thing wielding a crucifix. In this scenario, I was the brave young thing entirely by accident. I hadn’t been deliberately pointing the cover of my book at him. It actually took me a second to work out what the problem was.
I even had a brief moment of panic, myself. What if an enormous spider had landed on the cover? A glance at the reflection in the window told me this was not the case. Nevertheless, the man took a step backwards and then another. The he turned, still staring at my book and me, and hightailed it out of the carriage.
What. The. Actual.Fuck?
‘What the fuck were you reading?’, I can almost hear you wondering.
Must have been something pretty outrageous. Something really offensive or maybe frightening, right? “Mein Kampf” or “How to blow up trains in 3 easy steps“? Maybe something worse!
Actually, no. I was reading a book that I had really been looking forward to and had planned to review. I found it a funny, honest and a refreshing read. It’s the kind of book I want my teenage girls to read, because I want them to know what sort of world they will be making their way into. Forewarned is forearmed, right? It’s a tough world out there for women.
Why I Want My Girls to Read The Book That Terrified A Man.
- Our girls should know that they can and should speak up about what they believe in, but I want them to be aware that the response from some won’t always be fair, reasonable or kind.
- I want them to be comfortable in their bodies, while knowing that other people might have a different opinion. They need to know that the opinions of other people about how their bodies should look is irrelevant.
- I want them to grow up believing that other women are their greatest allies and not their competitors or enemies.
- I want them to view detractors with humour. Laughter is a potent remedy.
- My hope is that our girls will go into the world ready to share their knowledge and use the privileges they have to help other people. Books like this one will help to plant the seeds in their minds.
- Bravery comes in many shapes and forms. It can be standing up for others or even speaking out on a topic that you know will rile some people up and doing it anyway. I want our kids to be brave.
So, what was this terrifying tome?
It was Fight Like A Girl, by Clementine Ford. The book is about Clementine’s experiences, as a girl and growing up, while finding her way to feminism. Her feminism has shaped her career and how she lives her life. I watched her give a talk a few days ago, her infant son in his baby carrier being gently rocked as Clementine went through a slideshow of some of the most heinous hate mail she’s received.
Her crime? Being a woman with opinions on what needs to change in the world to improve the status quo. Not only has she published Fight Like Girl, but also many opinion pieces commenting on current events and issues relating to women.
Some people are so enraged at the idea of doing away with the patriarchal culture that dominates the world that they are inspired to get in touch with her. When they do, there’s seemingly no room for well-articulated arguments and no desire for discussion. Much easier to call someone a cunt or tell them not to worry about rape culture because no one would bother raping them. This is the reality of Clementine’s inbox; threats and insults.Watching her laugh as she read these awful things out loud to an audience, I couldn’t help but admire her strength of character and resolve to keep going.
I should go into greater detail about Fight Like A Girl, but honestly, a full review isn’t necessary at this point. The way I see it, this book saved me from being in close proximity to a man so clearly horrified by feminism that he couldn’t even share a carriage with me. All I had to do was hold it in his line of sight for him to scuttle away.
As far as I’m concerned, it paid for itself that day!