Clementine Ford’s first book, Fight Like a Girl was her bestselling memoir on growing up in a man’s world and how it shaped her writings on feminism.
Boys Will Be Boys is her follow up book on power, patriarchy and the toxic bonds of mateship. It’s written in the same easy-to-read style. Fewer personal anecdotes but plenty of real-world examples you’ll recognise from recent years and a whole bunch of (very alarming) data you may not.
If Fight Like a Girl was about the fight for women to shrug off the shackles of the patriarchy, Boys Will be Boys is the same thing, but for both boys AND girls.
You can’t be it if you can’t see it
I started reading this book the same week I went to a women’s leadership summit where there was a lot of talk about unconscious bias. We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘You can’t be it if you can’t see it.’
If you only see male doctors you assume all doctors are male so it doesn’t occur to you, as a little girl, that you could grow up and become a doctor.
If you don’t see other women standing up and saying #metoo you’ll continue to internalise the workplace harassment you experience and shrug it off as ‘just the way the world is.’
Boys: the next focus of feminism?
You’ll hear some men push back against feminism in part because they think it’s trying to take away power from men. To emasculate them. To make them more… girly (aka powerless).
As a mother of two boys, I’ve thought for some time that the next frontier of feminism is the fight not to MAKE boys do ‘girl things’, but ALLOW boys to be themselves. To create a society where it’s safe for boys to like pink, hug each other and dance like nobody’s watching.
This includes things like allowing them to be involved in the magic (and massively hard work) that is child-rearing; and allowing them to take off the shackles of needing to be the main breadwinner.
Boys Will Be Boys does just that – picks apart all the ways that boys are pigeonholed, and damaged, by the patriarchal society we live in.
Patriarchy harms boys as well as girls
A lot of what Clementine Ford touches on in Boys Will Be Boys is not news to me personally. But it does give wonderful clarity to many ideas and concepts in her very accessible writing style. And it does help to read it and confirm for yourself that no, you’re not going mad, this is really a thing.
The anti-feminist movement really is fighting to preserve a system that disadvantages boys as well as girls.
Times are changing (albeit slowly)
I think things are changing. Slowly, but they are. More men – even in senior positions – are working part-time so they can care for their pre-school children while their partner goes back to work.
My husband didn’t work part-time but he did arrange a regular RDO on a weekday (he worked a weekend day to make up for it). He cared for our youngest son and did school drop offs and pick ups while I increased my working hours.
I love that my sons see this. It’s normal for them that Dad volunteers at school as well as Mum, that Dad is the one who does the ironing and changes the sheets and towels every week while Mum does the clothes washing and coordinates the food shopping and meal preparation.
If they can see it, hopefully it will make it easier for them to be it.
Boys Will Be Boys, by Clementine Ford, has just been published by Allen & Unwin. If you’re looking it in a bookshop, rest assured you won’t be able to miss it – the entire cover is LIME GREEN.
Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher for the purpose of review. This post contains affiliate links.