We stand with Clementine Ford – and why you should too

Why we stand with Clementine Ford - Champagne Cartel

There has been a storm of media attention since a man was fired after calling Clementine Ford a slut on Facebook, after she posted about sexist abuse she received on White Ribbon Day. You can read all about that here, but just to be clear: Clementine didn’t demand he was fired, she just brought it to the attention of the man’s employer (which was very clearly displayed in his profile), and they chose to terminate his employment as a result of his behaviour.

Since then, Clementine has been on the receiving end of some of the vilest hate I have ever seen. I forced myself to read as much of it as I could find because I wanted to get an idea of what she is going through. It make me feel absolutely sick to my stomach that people could say some of the stuff they said. You can read it here if you want, but in a nutshell she was wished a lifetime of misery, various types of rape, being shot in the face, and many more delightful fates. Dozens and dozens of snippets of abuse and actual threats on her personal safety.

All this for standing up for herself against someone who was verbally abusing her.

Clementine has a reputation in the media for being provocative and starting debates. I love that shit but I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But people who hold a mirror to society and push us to question what we see are the ones who really affect change. Like her or not, Clementine sure does hold up a mirror. But lots of people don’t like what they see.

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Although some of the hatred comes from women, most of the abuse is coming from men (and, disturbingly, teenage boys). Their vitriol is disgusting and upsetting but there is another element I want to talk about. Even if you think Clementine invites the hate, here is why what those men are saying is a whole lot worse than anything she has said or done.

As women, we are physically vulnerable to men. Some of us may have the careers we want, and be doing all manner of awesome shit all over town, but these comments remind us of a simple fact: men are physically stronger than women. All things being equal, a man can overpower a woman, and if he so chose, he could carry out the sick shit that Clementine has been threatened with.

That’s why these threats are so serious. Because they could easily be carried out. And we have no way of knowing whether the person behind that threat is deadly serious, or some bum-fluffed teen tweeting shit while his mum cuts up his dinner for him. With those comments come an element of menace that women cannot forget.

We all know what it’s like to feel vulnerable walking down the street at night. We all know what it’s like to hear noises outside our house and wonder whether we should investigate. We all know what it’s like to be alone with a man and be scanning for the best exit, just in case. Most men will never know what that feels like.

And I know more than a few women with public profiles who feel strongly about this but are afraid to speak up, because they feel vulnerable. Because they have young children. Because they share elements of their lives online, and if someone wanted to, they could find out where they work, or where they live. Because they’ve been abused before.

That’s what really pisses me off – that smart, successful women are terrified of speaking out. We’ve worked so hard to get where we are, and now we are afraid to have a voice. I don’t blame these women. I get it, I really do. They are not the ones at fault here.

Clementine Ford is working hard to make the internet safer for all women. She doesn’t tolerate misogyny, and she stands up to bullies. We owe it to her to stand beside her. Abuse and threats are not acceptable and, no matter what you think of someone’s opinion, they do not deserve to have their personal safety threatened.

What do you think should be done about threats and abuse online? Have you experienced it?

Written By

Carolyn is the editorial director of Champagne Cartel and a freelance writer. In her spare time she is a long-distance runner, peanut butter enthusiast, and single mum to three incredible humans.


  • Well said Carolyn, I can’t believe we live in a world in which some men think this is acceptable. I find it even more disturbing than teenage boys are getting in on the act too. Just goes to show that we need the White Ribbon Campaign more than ever in 2015.

  • Great post hon. The vitriol and hate online is awful and scary – an awful and scary reflection of our evolution. How did we get here? I reported some violent religious hate speech to Facebook one day, and was told it “passed community standards”. What the? If I yelled down the street I was going to behead some m*f* I don’t think it would pass any community standards. I am glad Clementine and people like you do speak out and share this stuff. Because it needs to be a conversation.

  • Especially loved this

    ” And we have no way of knowing whether the person behind that threat is deadly serious, or some bum-fluffed teen tweeting shit while his mum cuts up his dinner for him ”

    I think your crystal ball on these gutless wonders is spot on in this instance Carolyn…love your work chica!

  • It is disgusting that strangers think they have the right to comment like that. What is even more disturbing is what they must be like in real life to their mothers, sisters, friends and strangers.

    It would be relevant to start a shame file for all the people who comment so that other women can look through and know not to date or marry any of the scum.

    Also, to the women who make horrible comments, may they go on the list and be shamed for their vile views.

    Let society know what these peoples standards and opinions are.

    Good on you Clementine. xx Stay safe.

  • I was listening to talk back radio recently, the guest was a local man who has worked as an advocate for White Ribbon Day, in fact wears one every day as a statement. He said Australia wide the police are called every two minutes to a domestic violence dispute. His stance – we should be teaching boys from the early years right through – respect for women, and that this violence and accompanying attitude is unacceptable. I wish I could tell you his name, he was in his late 70’s and amazing.

  • I just hope that if a woman said the same thing to Clementine; or to any woman online; that we are consistent with our reactions. Sometimes I fear we are men bashing and I fear this is us going backwards.

    I agree social media attracts so many sad, angry people who use Facebook, Twitter etc as a vehicle to release their own private shame and frustration about life. On the street, they probably mask up; as we learn it’s not OK to be anything but happy and positive in public.

    Jon Ronson is a man who is passionate about humans and their behaviour. He generously shares his findings in this TED talk, ‘How a tweet can ruin your life’. This provides a little insight into the enormity of what Clementine works with by bravely voicing the unsaid.

    “It seems we are losing our capacity for empathy; which makes it harder to distinguish between serious and unserious transgressions. We used to GET people for having children out of wedlock. These days the hunt is on for people’s shameful secrets and stuff-ups’.


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