Review: I Don't by Clementine Ford

Australian feminist and author Clementine Ford takes a look at the history of marriage in I Don't and makes a provocative argument against an institution that was never originally about romance. The book makes an ambitious claim, that it not only wants to prevent marriages, but to end them. Ford takes a deep dive into the history of marriage, its relationship to the church and most importantly of all, probes whether marriage is in a women’s best interest. Like any work by an author who believes in what they say, and who has done extensive research to back it up, it is very difficult to argue with the case presented in this book. 

I am familiar with the author's previous work. Sometimes I agree with what she says, and sometimes I disagree and, unsurprisingly, this is a reflection of my feelings about I Don't. It is hard not to feel angry when she shares accounts of women who are humiliated on their wedding day with casually cruel acts by the groom disguised as 'comedy', whether it be by smashing the wedding cake, holding up a sign that says 'help me' as the bride walks up the aisle or a supposedly funny speech that degrades and belittles the bride. And why wouldn't these women run? Clementine Ford also takes a look at the myths designed to keep women in their place, whether it be witch hunts from days gone by or their modern variant--that of the crazy cat lady. Women, Ford argues, have been taught to fear their own freedom.

I am in awe of the scope and depth of her research--Ford goes deep into the history of marriage. She also  busts contemporary myths around the traditions of white dresses and diamonds, and how weddings have become a huge commercial enterprise. 

As perviously stated, I do not agree with everything in this book--and this is in spite of the fact that there were moments when I found myself cheering, or the more confronting moments, when I found myself nodding my head and muttering, "yep" to things that I had never given much thought to before. My personal opinion is that marriage is an individual choice, and that did not change. (However, the word choice is important here.) Many of my friends and relatives have wonderful, happy marriages; many are single and are living happy and fulfilled lives. Both experiences are equally valid. As is the experiences of friends and relatives who have gone through divorces. Life is messy and nothing is ever one size fits all. 



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