Open Letter to Clementine Ford

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Dear Ms Ford,

This year I started working on a student magazine for my university. It’s been a wonderful experience because we have writers from such diverse backgrounds and experiences. I’ve never had so much fun writing and editing, nor been engaged with so many differing opinions.

One thing we have in abundance is female writers. These girls, often first or second year students, have courageously written their own perspectives on women’s issues, from suffrage to Julia Gillard, from abortions to pornography. I am so proud of these women. We’re not the most informed bunch, but we battle through armed with undergrad Gender Studies and with role models, like you. These are their stories, their experiences and reactions to a male dominated culture that they’re coming to terms with.

Recently, we’ve seen fledgling articles viciously criticised by (pretty much all male) commenters, who vary from the “where is the article on man power?” school of thought, to the flat out “there are more women in Australia, so therefore you are not a minority” argument, and even “may God have mercy on your soul”. It appears that we need to be saved from our corrupt feminist ideology.

I suppose I’m asking you for advice. Now I’ve read your article on ‘How to Spot a Misogynist‘ and our reactions have certainly been to mostly enjoy the show, pass the popcorn and let’s all have a laugh – but, I wonder. How damaging are these comments?

How frustrating it is to know that regardless of the replies we give, the feminist logic we impart and the statistics we show, these commentators will still continue on their sexist rampages, putting some of the writers down further. Like we were once told about the schoolyard bully to just “walk away”, should we regard these commentators with the same contempt? Yet, in not replying, are we then surrendering (once again) to male power, misogyny and patriarchy? In not replying, are we allowing the perpetuation of their (false) ideas? We are damned if we do, and damned if we don’t.

What, then, should we do?

Kind regards,

Mia Kwok
Deputy Editor
Grapeshot – Macquarie University Student Publication

[box_light]Editors note: Additionally, we spotted a lot of these commenters in Natalie Reilly’s article “The 14 Kinds of Sexist Commentators” and for even further reading, have a look at Stella Crawford’s amazing “why we need women’s only spaces” [/box_light]