Today in our faced paced, transformative society, enabled though accelerated distribution of content digitally, information is at our fingertips. Social injustice that has previously been accepted as the status quo, we’re no longer standing for it. Who are we? I’m speaking for myself, 31 year old Millenial, working in a connected, creative industry and my wider social group, my 600+ peers on social media, particularly women whom I’ve found myself agreeing with on the stratosphere of social / political / human rights injustices. Social media, in particular Facebook, for me has shifted from the fun old days of sharing drunken, hilarious college pics and embarrassing each other online, to become a go-to place for news, opinion pieces, articles and more prominently a hub where people are speaking up to the masses, on topics we’re no longer standing for. So in essence, it’s gone from being a place for ‘shits and banter’, to an opinion and education platform, where people like and share content, feeling great about themselves, thinking they’re changing the world! Maybe they are.
The Rise of Feminism
The most common theme and societal trend that is cropping up on my feed in the past three years and I’m reading more and more articles on… is feminism. Feminism as a movement, thought or brand has shifted seismically in the past decade, where today it’s everywhere, in many forms and many interpretations. Feminism is a societal trend and it’s here to stay. Getty has cited that search terms for “empowered women” has increased by 700% in the past 18 months, it’s trickled down through the business and branding world also.
I’ve thought a lot about a prominent feminist figure in Australia over the last couple of years and have had some polarising opinions on her. Clementine Ford, feminist commentator and writer, has emerged in recent years as an ultra Left Wing, “FemiNazi” – as she’s been described, who’s no bullshit, in-your-face, aggressive, unlady-like demeanour on spreading the feminist message has awoken anger within women and men. Her articles, thoughts and opinion pieces are channeled through her social media, of over 100K, her tribe is growing.
She’s not so popular with men (even the ones who agree with the feminist movement) as she essentially tells them to “F*ck off” and quit “Mansplaining” if they wish to raise any men’s rights issues with her, such as Father’s rights. Clementine has one agenda, which she outlines in her House Rules about her page, it’s the first thing you’ll read. To summarise her page and House Rules on her commentary:
- She will raise awareness on feminist & societal issues on groups that are marginalised, including men’s violence against women, exclusion of marginalised groups including disabled people, trans and gender queer people, people of colour and women, reproductive rights, sexism.
- Her opinions are hers, if you don’t like them, leave.
- She’s open to people disagreeing on topics on her page but not if they employ ‘slut shaming’, racism, homophobia, transphobia or ableism.
- Railing against Victim – blaming of women in the media
- Women don’t have to dress in a certain way for their opinions to be taken seriously.
- Unashamadly pro-choice.
- She’s not interested in men’s rights arguments and does not entertain it on her page, unless it’s the impact of male violence on men, or liberating men from masculine pressures. She will not cater for men who think their hard done by and are threatened by the empowerment of women.
- Racist, sexist trolls who come to her page are not welcome, and are told to “fuck off and rome with your people.” She also won’t entertain people telling her to ignore trolls, for she is committed standing up and fighting them.
Daily she’s subjected to horrific, degrading and frightening comments spat at her from men hiding behind their keyboard, she’s had death threats, insults, rape threats and the most vile things said to her. This would cause the hardiest of us to go to ground and give up the fight but for Clementine, she sees these trolls as essential for her crusade to equality. How she fights back, is shifting the spotlight to them, publicly naming and shaming those abusing her and their abuse, by publishing to her army of followers, switching the critique towards them. In some instances, she’s publicly shamed men on their employer’s Facebook page, resulting in them losing their job. She’s playing dirty. And she’s not ashamed of it. Some men are fuming.
So is she the correct role model for feminism?
My original opinion on Clementine was that she’s causing a war between men and women, breeding anger, which can be counterproductive to her overall objective… a world of respect and equality. That maybe if she wasn’t so aggressive to men, they would respect her more. That if she took a nicer tact, like Beyonce, or lovely Emma Watson, then potentially she could be more productive in the strive for acceptance of the empowerment and equality of women. I thought calling a guy out publicly to his company was harsh, but I’ve never had a person threaten me so violently and reading some of the abuse she’s subject to, proves how much there’s a need for an extremist like her. She causes these men to crawl out of the woodwork and expose themselves for the misogynist, sexists that they are. And this has to stop. I mentioned earlier that she has angered both men and women, her commentary on slut shaming, victim blaming, domestic violence, sexism, inequality has awoken an anger in me and I’m ready to fight back to ensure that we are moving towards a more equal society.
So to summarise, I think Clementine is an extreme but much needed brand ambassador for feminism, it’s unfortunate that she is necessary but I think she’ll be in it for the long haul, until the abuse and actions of the media change. She has carefully and intentionally honed her personal brand over the last number of years, to differentiate herself within the wider spectrum of feminist role models. She’s tapped into and led the charge on the social trend to work towards a more equal world for both sexes, and has curated a loyal army of brand ambassadors, who are loyal to her and willing to follow her and join the fight.
Brands should join the fight!
One could be cynical with keyboard philanthropists who ‘like and share’ articles on social media, thinking they are changing the world. However through education and providing more people with knowledge, as a society and as women, we’re no longer standing up for the sexism we’ve subconsciously endured for all of our lives. We are an engaged, enraged, passionate audience who truly want to align ourselves with likeminded people, and interact with likeminded businesses and brands throughout our daily lives, for something has changed within us, and these decisions are important. Now more than ever, is a time for brands to lead the change, and prove they’re 100% for equality. They have half the world’s population as an engaged audience. It’s a no brainer.
I’m with her. I’m going to Fight like a Girl.
Pics courtesy of Clementine Ford, & Beyonce.