“Not for the love of women toil we, we of the craft,
Not for the people’s praise.
Only because our Goddess made us her own, and laughed,
Claiming us all our days.”
Thus starts Song of the Pen, a short but beautiful autobiographical poem written by one of Australia’s greatest poets, Banjo Patterson.
It is a poem which ends with the words “Work is its own reward.”
It is about writers, and how writers are not interested in money or acclamation or other rewards. Writing, and being read, is what drives writers. They need an audience, not any other reward.
The recently departed Dr Hal Colebatch, an author whom I knew relatively well, truly would have been an adherent of the values of Banjo Paterson. He was a chap who could have been financially successful as a lawyer, a journalist, or as an academic, but did not want that. He chose to be a writer, a successful published writer, and writers do not make very much money, nor praise.
The writer Clementine Ford, who is currently the subject of much criticism, would also have been claimed by the same Goddess, and be subject to the same laws as my late friend Dr Colebatch.
Hence I am going to be very gentle in any criticism of Ms Ford.
She very recently was the subject of great outrage because she tweeted something about the coronavirus not killing men fast enough.
I am a man, and I value my life. My mother is not a man, and she values my life, as she does that of my brother. My other female relatives value my life, as do my female friends and colleagues, and presumably the other women who meet me and get to know me.
But Ms Ford, who does not know me, or the other four billion men on the planet, is preemptively celebrating my possible death and that of any or all of those other men.
She has, on the results of a casual google search today, been making jokes about killing men for quite some while.
Yet she is the mother of a young son. Where does her apparent wish for the death of half the human population of this planet end?
I assume that Ms Ford is the sort of person who is best described as a ‘radical feminist’. My sociology studies 32 years ago gave me a reasonable working understanding of feminism, in its three streams:
. liberal feminism – men are not bad, they just need to see what their behaviour means and they will change it
. Marxist feminism – men are not inherently bad – it is capitalism that make them bad
. radical feminism – men are inherently bad, regardless of what the social or economic system are.
When Ms Ford (according to her own stated views) wishes death on all these people (men) whom she does not know, and whom she only is aggrieved against because of their holding a penis (as opposed to their skin colour or the shape of their eyes or their religion), she is exhibiting the classic signs of being a radical feminist.
Why does she want me dead? Can she say that this is not personal? Like those classic mass murderers Hitler, or Mao, or Stalin, or Pol Pot? Is it being ‘not personal’ better than anything ‘personal’?
I am pretty sure that she is ‘radical’ rather than ‘Marxist’. Her wikipedia biography does suggest that she is rebelling from a family of what some would call ‘white middle class privilege ‘, where her own background in terms of education and class origin suggests that she is blind to the disadvantages that both males and females that are not of an Anglo-Saxon and middle class origin would have in comparison to her own Anglo-Saxon middle class (and probably protestant in origin) privilege.
Marxists, much as I disagree with them, have the decency to see that there is a lot of disadvantage to being a poor boy, as compared to a rich girl.
To be a published author is frequently a matter of not what you know, but who you know. If you are an angry white anglo middle class woman, there are people who will be more likely to print your stuff than the barriers that some others will have to overcome.
Ms Ford did say, in reply to some of the outrage about her comments (which are not really a new theme in her writings):
“Christ alfkn mighty, men love to screech about snowflakes and triggered feminists and women not being able to take a joke and they crumble at the first sign of a hyperbolic tweet that does not place them as gods at the centre of the universe. Ding dongs, all of them.”
You will see in my blog that I do not talk about snowflakes or make excuses for my various beliefs – although I do express reservations about many of them. I am too old for that sort of excuse. What Ms Ford is doing is trying to hide behind the bad behaviour or excuses of other people, when she herself is expressing the sort of extreme hatefulness which is no longer acceptable in a mature and tolerant world. She is using ‘snowflake’ (a term she holds in contempt) as an excuse for her own appalling statements.
We need to have more love and more acceptance and tolerance and inclusion in this world. We need less hatred. Especially from the hate-filled and over indulged products of white anglo middle class privilege.
But should anyone sanction Ms Ford? Apparently the grant the City of Melbourne was going to give her towards her next book was only $3200. Writers do not (as I indicated at the start of this post) have real interest in money. Double her grant, print her book in quadruple the quantities that anyone might actually buy. She wants attention. Perhaps seeing her book unsold on the discount tables of QBD Highpoint at $2 each is the punishment she really needs.