On the Couch with Clementine Ford

Clementine-Ford-AAR-On-the-CouchWho is Clementine Ford?
For several years writer and broadcaster Clementine Ford made her name as one of Australia’s most provocative feminists, making public appearances and writing columns that were branded as angry and “man-hating”. But following a challenging beginning to motherhood and a relationship break-up, she began to tire of the endless controversy and hostility.

What would you do differently from what you do now?
I’m so lucky to be able to do almost exactly what I’ve always wanted. Writing, broadcasting and performing is enormously satisfying. I love that every project is different, and that being kept on your toes helps to inspire great creativity. It requires a lot of hard work and plugging away to get to a point where you feel a little at ease with it all, but that’s thrilling in itself. Having said that, if I had to choose a completely different career path, then I’d be a midwife. I think they’re so incredible and being able to experience the magic of birth, day in and day out would be immensely rewarding. I suppose that’s what artists do in a sense, although in a much less pressing way!

Who inspires you and why?
I’m inspired by women all over the world and throughout history who’ve fought for something better. For themselves, for their communities. Leymah Gbowee talks about the moment when your back is against the wall and you realise you have two choices – you can let the wall swallow you, or you can fight back. I’m inspired by the fighters, and grateful to their bravery.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Cancel billionaires. There’s no such thing as a good billionaire.

Favourite holiday destination and why?
I love a swanky travel destination, but for me the best holidays are taken in places that are low key and close to the water. Somewhere you can walk along the beach and read aimlessly through the day. I love caravan holidays!

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
During the summer, I’ll take them to swim at Plenty Gorge. It’s so beautiful and serene. During the winter, I’m much more likely to take them out to the Macedon Ranges for a ramble and lunch in front of the fire at a country pub. I’m too old for fast paced living!

What are you currently reading?
I’m writing a book about the inequitable state of marriage as an institution, so I’ve been reading lots of sociological and anthropological texts about it. I can highly recommend Stephanie Coontz’ Marriage: A History for some great myth busting on what we think we know about marriage, and Adrienne Rich’s Compulsive Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence has also been very helpful. But the book I’m recommending all people read right now is How Many More Women? by Jennifer Robinson and Keina Yoshida. It’s a book about how the law silences women, and it’s blistering.

What are you currently listening to?
I love the podcast You Are Good – a feelings podcast about movies. (Disclaimer: I have been a guest on a few episodes!) The hosts Alex and Sarah are just divine and very funny, and it’s so delightful to revisit movies we’ve loved in such deep and generous conversations. I’m also listening to Edwina Stott’s podcast, That’s Helpful. She speaks with a different expert each week to shed light on a topic that people might find it helpful to know more about. For example, there’s an episode on how to spot a psychopath, another on intuitive eating and another on the wellness industry.

Happiness is?
Happiness is found in the things that connect us to humanity. Success is great and the demands of living mean we can’t discount comfort and safety for happiness. But happiness for me comes when I marvel at the world like a child would. A beautiful sunset, awe inspiring even though I’ve seen so many before. Watching waves roll in on a beach. Time spent with myself, feeling content. What makes me happy at 41 is very different to what I thought would make me happy at 20, and I’m grateful for the lessons that got me here.

What does the future hold for you?
If I never publish another book or performed another show, I would have had more than my share. So asking for more feels greedy. But I want it anyway. I want to keep writing, exploring the world on the page and expressing the things I feel need to be said. I want to expand that work into more creative options too – I’m working on a pitch for a TV series currently, and I’d love to do more shows like Love Sermon. I want to keep being amazed by the world, and expressing those feelings through the work I do.

Clementine is touring (with Libby O’Donovan) across New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria throughout October and November this year with Love Sermon. For more information including performance dates and venues, visit: www.lovesermon.com for details.

Image: Clementine Ford (supplied)