There is irony in Clementine Ford’s continual bleating about patriarchal oppression of females while the patriarchy allows her to make a living by complaining about patriarchal oppression. Her latest for Daily Life:
As a woman with very little interest in getting married, I have long struggled to understand why it’s so important for heterosexual women to adopt a name that isn’t theirs.
Ford’s lack of interest is understandable considering the sane segment of the heterosexual male population has no interest in getting within barge pole distance of her.
Prompt a conversation on the topic, and more often than not you’ll be met with angered cries that not only does the discussion equate to criticism, but that there can be nothing less feminist that criticising women’s “choices”.
Such are the matters of supreme important discussed by Ford, who refuses to engage with anyone other than feminists, and her “girl gang”, which presumably includes the father of her son.
But in many feminist circles, it’s become fashionable to respond to critiques of systems that oppress women by invoking the argument of “choice” as a feminist act. To wit, that any choice undertaken by a woman is automatically rendered feminist merely because of her ability to make it.
According to this notion, we remove our body hair not because decades of shame both overt and subtle have made us believe it’s disgusting, but because we just like it better that way. We wear uncomfortable clothes and makeup not because we’ve been encouraged to believe our natural selves aren’t good enough, but because they simply make us feel good. We engage in work that reflects sexist values not because patriarchy limits the options in which we can make competitive wages but just because we want to.
And it’s okay, because isn’t feminism about choice?
Well, no. Feminism is about the liberation of everyone – especially women – from the oppression of patriarchy. Choice is a meaningful part of this project, but not when it’s solely about negotiating illusory power in a flawed system.
Ford may not remove her body her – if her moustache is any indication – but she does dye her hair, have her eyebrows done, wear lipstick, enjoy showing off her clothes and accessories and employs ancient rather than recent photos.
Either Ford has succumbed to patriarchal pressure to conform or she chooses to please herself by making the most of her limited resources. Everyone has choices to make in life, even femifascists.