Friday, January 13, 2023

Clementine's confession

Clementine Ford is notorious here in Australia as a man hating feminist who is nonetheless given considerable exposure in the media. As an example of her feelings towards men, she was criticised in 2020 for complaining that Covid was "not killing men fast enough".

What I'd like to comment on is her description of her journey to motherhood. She begins her story with the assumptions she made about marriage as a girl:
I assumed that one day I would be married. It wasn’t a question of ‘if ’ but of ‘when’. I wasted little energy worrying about the chap involved, presuming he would arrive just as the seasons did.

I've read this kind of thing from women before. It's the idea that marriage will just happen by itself without any effort or cultivation of character from themselves. It is true, I suppose, that women can find a husband due to things that happen naturally, like their looks, rather than being selected on achievement. Even so, I think this assumption that things will just fall into place is a significant error. Women do still have to preserve the things that nature grants them: not just their looks, but feminine qualities of character and, also, as we shall soon see, an ability to love and to pair bond with a man. There are also challenges that women will face as wives and mothers that girls should be raised to expect and to have the strength to deal with. 

The mentality that "everything will just fall into place, and I will get my happily ever after just as a matter of course" is a dangerous one, a Disney outlook that sets women up to be disappointed in life. 

Clementine Ford then followed exactly the modern girl pattern of life. She spent her formative years in her teens and twenties pursuing a number of short term relationships with men, before changing course in her early 30s, meeting the future father of her child and then asking for a child at age 34:

after the torrid years of my twenties, with the series of broken hearts that decade brought (mostly mine, sometimes other people’s), I met the man who would become my son’s father.

It needs to be noted here that a woman spending such a long time having affairs and having a "series of broken hearts" is terrible preparation for marriage. It is, in effect, practising for divorce. We aren't designed to repeatedly go through this process and still have our pair bonding faculty intact.

She waited until her son was four and then, predictably, dropped the bombshell on her partner (I don't think they were married) that she was leaving him. It is not unusual for women to wait until the youngest child is about this age, as the child is a little more independent by then and the mother is less reliant on the father for support.

Her explanation of why she left her partner is the one I expected. Despite the fact that he was going out to work to support her, she blamed him and resented him for the disruption to her life caused by motherhood:

In the pre-dawn hours, after another night of broken sleep and relentless feeding, I’d look at the man lying asleep next to me...and think, I hate you.

One of the things I had always valued about our relationship was how independent we could be of each other—which is to say, I had valued how independent I could be.

I am an introvert by nature, and the emotional toll of being so busy also means I have to recharge in solitude. When it was just the two of us, it was an ideal situation. But the introduction of a third, defenceless creature to our situation upended all of this.

For the first time in my life, I needed help. I needed respite. I needed to feel supported in some fairly basic ways. And like so many women stunned by the reality of the ‘happy ever after’, I felt myself to be abandoned.

I experienced the shock of motherhood and its impact on our relationship as a huge betrayal, and I blamed him for most of it.  

She blamed the one person doing the most for her for her predicament. It would have helped if she had had a more realistic view of motherhood. To her credit, she does admit that she had unrealistic views:
The genteel life I imagined for myself was cast in soft, pastel focus. I would finally be a published author. I’d have a placid, chubby little baby who cooed at all the right times and cried only when absolutely necessary, which would be never. And I’d have a loving partner who supported me emotionally in both of these endeavours, understanding without question or conflict what needed to be done and simply getting on with it.
The last part I've also heard before: the idea that some women have that their husbands/partners should simply intuitively know exactly what needs to be done and to put things right. It is a gross misunderstanding of men and of the masculine role within a relationship.

I do agree with Clementine Ford that first time motherhood can be tough and that it's best if supports can be in place for the woman experiencing it. But this support traditionally came from other women within the family, perhaps a woman's own mother, or her sisters, or her aunts. The problem with expecting a husband/partner to completely take over this role is not only that he will be away for considerable times at work, and not only that he will have no experience of what is happening himself, but even more crucially that he will then be responsible for a woman feeling comfortable in her new role and so be blamed if she does not - to the long term detriment of the marriage.

Sometimes when the topic of divorce is mentioned it is claimed that women initiate divorce in order to rid themselves of abusive men. But in my observation the Clementine Ford cases are the more common ones. Her partner loved her, but she left him and dissolved her family without even communicating to him her unhappiness or the reasons why she was leaving:
My desires were modest, but they were important. I wanted to stop feeling sad. I wanted to start feeling happy.

In the months before I decided to leave my relationship, I found myself thinking about what I wanted my life to look like. Did I want to wake up at fifty and realise that I had no idea who I even was anymore beyond being someone’s mother or someone’s wife?

I didn’t feel seen, and the knowledge left me with a deep wound.

Outside of my home, I was championed and celebrated...Yet despite this, when I laid my head down at night I felt invisible. I couldn’t understand why this man who claimed to love me didn’t also seem to notice that I was disappearing.

On an afternoon in late May, I piled the last of my things into my car and drove away from the house I had shared with a man I had once loved.

I did not cry as I drove away, just as I had not cried as I listened to him ask me again, Why? Why are you doing this?

[In fact] I hadn’t cried much over the then my heart had sealed over. I had watched myself moving slowly out of the relationship long before I moved out of the house, but he, like so many people seemingly blindsided by the end, had not noticed.

Even being a writer with a considerable national profile wasn't enough for her. She was "disappearing" and "didn't feel seen". 

The truth, I think, is that Clementine Ford had wanted to be a mother much more than she wanted to be married. She chose a man she knew was conscientious and decent to play a certain role for a certain time and then she returned to the kind of independent girl lifestyle she was more habituated to, but with the benefit of also being a mother:
I drove to my new flat, and I looked at the new home that I had made and I wondered at all the possibilities left to me...There would be love, I knew that. There would be laughter. There would be magic. 

I love living alone. I love having my own space...

I imagine a world in which our entire notion of ‘family’ is reinvented. Where women’s desire for motherhood is divested from our belief that it can only happen if we enter into a nuclear partnership.

I feel as if I have the best of both worlds now. I am a mother, and this brings to my life a particular meaning and resonance that is important to me.

But I am also a woman outside of this, and I don’t need to struggle to remember this fact. I move easily between the two states of being, without the risk of one consuming the other.
She wants to be a mother but also to be "a woman outside of this", which I think is her way of saying she wants to be free to express her sexuality in the pursuit of affairs.

She says that she "chose well" when selecting the father of her child as he has stuck around and they still all get together at times for meals and movie nights.

So, is this a future pathway for relationships? I don't think so. If women were to generally treat men the way that Clementine Ford treated her partner, then men would quickly lose interest in the idea of family. Nor do children raised in single mother homes generally fare as well as those raised more traditionally.

And the "magic" isn't happening for Clementine Ford to the degree she expected. She is in her forties now. She recently uploaded a Facebook post of her clutching a glass of wine, drunk and talking about how romance is a lie and that it's better to be alone. 
"I had lunch today with my researcher. I'm very drunk, that's why I'm slurring. We were talking about how more women of age like us need to impart to young women that everything you've been told about romance is a lie and the best thing you can aspire to is life on your own terms." 
You can only imagine that things will get worse as she ages. She is already cynical, already jaded and incapable of imagining a committed relationship. She has banked everything on sexual attractiveness:
I took my friend and researcher Jane out yesterday for lunch and we got absolutely trollied. Evidently I then went home and made some stories and took about a million photos of me in my knickers. Reassuring to know that even when I’m absolutely plastered, I’m still hot.
Anyway, even though I’m sozzled here I’m going to share this because the advice is sound. As a woman in her middle years (and living her best life), I want to keep telling women just beginning the journey that they are all the ingredients they will ever need to make a bloody great meal...Don’t settle for some bozo because you think it’s better than being in your own company. My company is great! Stay single, stay hot.

Is she really going to live by this "stay single, stay hot" philosophy in her fifties? In her sixties? In her seventies? 

Clementine Ford, drunk advice

I would hope that young women reading this would take her example as a fate to be avoided. 

Let me end on a more positive note. I've been on holiday and have had the chance to spend time at the beach. Whilst there I saw three young couples (they arrived together as a group of friends) who between them had a small army of toddler children (I counted nine). The children played happily on the sand, the husbands flirted a bit with their wives (one of the husbands swept his wife off her feet and they laughed together as he carried her to the waves). At one point one of the girls accidentally knocked over her little sister. The dad took the baby out of his wife's arms so that she could comfort her daughter.

Perhaps you had to be there, but I was struck by how "right" all this was - by how powerful this idyll of family life is as a human good and as part of the design of human life. 


  1. 1. You make an interesting point about men being blamed for new responsibilities women thrust on them. I have to wonder how damaging the ubiquitous mindset that a husband’s duty is to make his wife happy is: any time she is unhappy it must obviously be his fault.

    2. I notice there is no hint in her discussion of men that there is any consideration for the needs of her son or that for hypothetical other women the needs of the children should be put first (or considered at all). She does not care about depriving her son of his father (and probably believes that any man, or even woman, could be substituted into the role) and encourages other women to deprive their children of their fathers.

    3. Her later statements appear to be the usual encouragements of old and unwanted women to young women to make the same mistakes they did. Isn’t it by “living life on her own terms” that she ended up where she is? She got her way at every step. I would guess she feels extreme envy of young women who haven’t screwed up their lives. That seems to be one of the primary drives of feminism. Her appearance, an obvious mimicry of the looks of women twenty or more years younger than her, really says it all.

    1. On your first point, I wonder if the process of secularisation has anything to do with all this. If you lived a culture permeated by Christianity, the expectation would be an acceptance that life would have its tests; that we were to be grateful to God for our being even if life brought hardship; that it was ultimately God at the helm in the larger sense, even if the husband guided the life of a particular family. I am sure there were still women who bitterly blamed their own unhappiness on their husbands, but culture might have worked to offset this more than it does today.

    2. On your second point, I have experienced two very different responses from women to the presence of fathers in the family. One group reacts to divorce with some horror, not because of the effects on a soon to be ex-husband but because of the effects on the children. The other group seems to see the father as a lesser member of the family - they define the family really as mother and children, with the father as a more optional outsider figure. As for Clementine, I think her belief in independence, solo development and an unconstrained use of her sexual power - her "empowerment" - trumps all other considerations. There's a section I didn't quote where she says if men are to be included in the family at all, they must be willing to be on task for their wives 24 hours a day so that the wife experiences no infringement on her time or her activities. It is an instrumental view of men who exist to empower the autonomous female. I'm not sure how she would want her son to navigate this, I expect she is too self-absorbed to have considered the issue.

    3. On your third point, you are right about the attempt to look like she is some sort of edgy woman in her early 20s. My feeling is that she is shut off from the genuine goods of marital love/spousal union. She is too far gone. So I'm not sure if she would envy those who do have this. She is also jaded with the casual sex thing she pursued post divorce writing "“I was excited as I jumped back in and I was dating all the time. Then slowly I became more and more demoralised and bored, I suppose just by the sameness of it all.” That's an honest accounting, I guess, but she is still encouraging women to leave their husbands and for what? Her answer is that it's better for women to be single and alone because that is apparently powerful.

  2. First point, I would suspect the primary influence of so-called secularization would be convincing people that they ought to be happy a good portion of the time. The usual unhappiness of life therefore needs to get blamed on someone, and in domestic relations that is unfortunately too often the spouse. Feminists of course have weaponized female misery, even though in our day feminism is the primary cause of it. A faithful woman might also view her marriage as a commitment that she can’t abandon or destroy, and therefore feeding and nursing a resentment of her husband is a purely detrimental activity.

    Second point, consideration of children is very rare. People do not consider the possibility of children when they have sex, nor what will happen to them in “alternative families.” Quite simply, two women choosing to live together and raise children is necessarily depriving the children of their full families, and thus such women are choosing their own sexual desires (for the other woman) over the wellbeing of their children. Women who divorce and sleep around, such as our dear Clementine, are essentially the same. Her son is likely to grow up psychologically and spiritually damaged from his deprivation not only of a properly present father but also a lack of example of spousal love. Women, of the more broken variety, often themselves confess deep problems stemming from lack of love either for themselves or merely even around them. We can be fairly sure, I think, that a child growing up without much love for or around him is highly unlikely to be well-adjusted and healthy. I’m not sure how many women truly consider this.

    Third point, I did not mean to say she would necessarily envy young women for the possibility of a husband (though I would suspect she does yearn for the spousal love of a man, however shriveled, weak, and corrupt that desire may be) but merely for their as-yet unruined lives. Most likely she mostly envies them for their still-extant ability to satiate the sexual desires she still has, used to be able to satisfy herself, and can no longer fulfill (mid-40s women do not typically have their pick of men to sleep with). I might be speaking too forcefully to say that it’s a female tendency to tear other women down, but this has been largely true in my observation. Feminists certainly seem highly motivated by trying to bring other women down to their level. I suspect it is very difficult for a woman like Clementine to be able to look on a young woman in a happy marriage with anything but hatred, envy, and guilt. Women are highly social creatures and the profoundly antisocial state of a single, middle-aged woman with few or no children is likely a highly painful state, especially because there is little hope of remedy. Most if not all her chances are gone and she doesn’t even have good casual sex as an opiate anymore, with wine and alcohol as a poor substitute.

    1. "Feminists certainly seem highly motivated by trying to bring other women down to their level". I note in this regard that Clementine Ford's Facebook header is a picture of her holding a cap with the slogan "leave your husband". Not even "leave your abusive husband" but just "leave your husband".

      "Her son is likely to grow up psychologically and spiritually damaged from his deprivation not only of a properly present father but also a lack of example of spousal love." The last part of this is rarely spoken of. I suspect that children of divorced couples are aware that they are the product of a relationship marked by "infidelity" in the sense of the breaking of the spousal union. One academic study found "Children whose parents had divorced may be less comfortable with closeness, more avoidant of others, and have less secure attachment styles than those who did not experience a divorce".

    2. older women trying to take out competition of younger women is a tale as old as paganism.

    3. It’s probably worth bringing up that for a long time it absolutely accepted universally that there was an unbreakable duty to kin. Most likely this was a huge impetus for political marriages, since two dynasties are less likely to go to war when their families and kin are literally blended together. Less drastically, it’s probably still instinctual in the human psyche that sharing a child ought to be a very powerful bond between two people, perhaps even an unbreakable one. Yet if the union that produced you could be destroyed, it calls into question all the human relationships formed on less solid ground than sharing a permanent blood link. That is what I would suspect, at any rate.

  3. Clementine has never been very smart, but she must be delusional or mentally ill if she can look in the mirror or a selfie photo and think herself "hot". She is the very antithesis of the term - an overtattooed, overused town bicycle who looks utterly unsightly. The real danger is in allowing people like her anywhere near the education system and influencing the next generation. In a just society, child protective services would take her child into custody and place the child with a new adoptive or foster family.

    The other problem to consider is electoral. The "single woke female" is becoming a growing part of the electorate and voting for the decline of society. This article summarises the problem well.