Always leave Clementine, loving is leaving

I was fascinated by the cover story in last weekend’s Canvas magazine written by Clementine Ford and Naomi Arnold.

Definitely thought provoking. She really managed to make being a young Mum sound really, really, awful. Here are some of the quotes that I found most stimulating and thought provoking:

How could someone like me have been caught in the terrible trap of domestic drudgery, while a man skated alongside her with very little disruption to his life or any awareness of the labour that went into facilitating it?

The authors also wrote, “now she gets to be a Mother untainted by domestic resentments and exhaustion.”

And, “motherhood is full of ugly memories.”

The thing about domestic servitude that I’ve observed, in my opinion, in my experience, is that these days it’s nearly always self inflicted .. voluntary, as far as I can tell .. I’ve been in a few semi-loving domestic partnerships where I’ve noticed my partner very obviously not bowing down to my telepathic demands that she devote herself to some domestic servitude. For some reason, it never ever worked. I always felt like I was receiving some much more powerful reverse telepathic messages.

These messages could be loosely translated as, “why don’t you just (expletive) punch yourself in the face. I will not clean the toilet today, it’s your responsibility and do the bloody vacuuming and laundry before I poison our takeaways tonight. I know you do the laundry most of the time but you never (expletive) fold it properly and I hate that you forgot to put the recycling out three months ago. Also, your footy socks stink like gorilla ass and I told you to hand wash them multiple times you muppet.

Understandable. Now, moving on. Clementine experienced significant existential angst over being a young Mum.

To love my child is to live in a constant state of collapse and repair .. the fibres of my being torn apart every second and woven back together,” she writes.

Unfortunately I struggle with this one. As a single Dad with 50/50 custody for 6+ years I always felt that I just couldn’t afford to even consider falling apart. It was a responsibility that I felt was sometimes challenging but also always a very awesomely rewarding experience. Without doubt the most important thing I have ever done. Plus my Daughter would’ve been really upset.

For years, I’d been telling women not to tolerate sexism from men,” she writes in her new book, How we love, in an essay titled, Leave Your Husband.

This one makes complete sense to me. When push came to shove (figure of speech) my ex wife loved me so much that she and I agreed, without even needing to put it into words, to turn our marriage into a very tumultuous series of coming and going contests. She loved coming back to me, and then running off with horses, and then coming back, and going, and then I would leave to go back to the city and then come back to the country, and then again do my best disappearing act, and so on, and so on. To the extent that the only way to stop all our reciprocal comings and goings was to finally admit .. that we loved each other far too much to be together.

Clementine and I are very much on the same page here, it’s uncanny.

I can also very much sympathise with Clementine’s Boys Will Be Boys in depth example of investigative gonzo journalism. She describes her deep dive into Australian masculinity as being “draining .. there is so much in that book that is really toxic, and exhausting and challenging.”

I feel that way about so many men that I know. Almost every single one of them. Especially a tax manipulating master of the universe type tosser, some snobby designer poser, a pretty boy (with a scary wife) lawyer who moisturises far too much (B-rad), an extremely timid moody type who thinks he’s the most metrosexual teacher on the face of the earth and I could go on .. but like Clementine, I will be discreet and refrain from naming names. I have endured a lifetime of toxic masculinity and I salute Clementine for the solidarity she has shown me.

Thanks to her masterpiece Boys Will Be Boys, I now find solace and shelter from these traumatic experiences in my pilates, pottery, sowing and flax weaving classes.

I understand her pain, the pain that comes with having to shake off the “torrents of abuse.” I keep trying to fight for gender equality and I get called all kinds of names. There are so many male and female “shrill harpys” in New Zealand who don’t care about my struggle and call me names all the time.

In my experience, my struggle, it is impossible to live independently, being “financially solvent“, as a single parent, because eventually even though you have done everything you can to be safe, loving, kind, fun, healthy, frugal and hard working, the family court will one day just randomly decide to smash the living hell out of you based on balance of probabilities smears and some immature, niggly, text messages. However, one day .. in the future, I will shake that off, complete my journey, become fully emancipated and I will find the time and energy to write my own inspiring hateful people smiting book. Hopefully, Clementine will write the prologue.

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