A petition to have extremist feminist activist Clementine Ford removed as a speaker at a Lifeline hosted event is gathering pace.
Over 4,300 people have signed the Change.org call for action since it was announced Ford would speak at an event in Melbourne in May.
“Clementine Ford is one of Australia’s most high profile female writers, but also one who is synonymous with the catchphrase #killallmen,” the petition states.
“As Lifeline is a service that is crucial to people experiencing high levels of emotional distress, many of them suicidal over bullying experiences. It is extremely important that they remain distant from the hateful comments previously made very loudly and consistently by Ms Ford.”
Lifeline is co-hosting an event on 29 May, The State Library Victoria, Melbourne – ‘Recognise, Respond, Refer’ – with DV-alert. Ford is listed as the keynote Speaker.
Lifeline justified their choice in a statement to Mark Latham’s Outsider’s Facebook page, saying “Lifeline is a provider of the DV-alert program throughout Australia and has been for many years.
“To promote the DV-alert community awareness raising training programs, an event is being planned in Melbourne which will include a panel discussion. Clementine Ford has been invited to be a panel member. It is commonplace for a range of views and perspectives to occur in a discussion panel. Lifeline does not necessarily agree with any particular panel member or commentator’s views.”
At best the choice has been described as “bizarre” and “insensitive”, while many are wondering if Lifeline even Googled Ford before confirming her as a speaker.
Ford’s social media account boasts about “male tears” and she famously publicly shamed a disabled man. On 22 April 2014, she wrote on Twitter of men: “If they don’t want to pay child support but they need to kill someone, kill themselves.”
Online outrage has turned to despair at Lifeline’s choice of speaker. Many have highlighted the soaring male suicide rate.
While Ford has attempted to justify her position as speaker at the event, critics insist she is utterly devoid of compassion for men.
There is mounting pressure for Lifeline chair John Brogden, the former New South Wales state Liberal leader and prominent depression advocate (and sufferer), to intervene – along with speculation resignations could be called for if the issue is not addressed swiftly.
If the online storm is anything to go by, an increasing amount of furious Australians are pulling both their support and donations from Lifeline. “I’ve supported Lifeline for over 40 years, no more if that’s how you think,” one wrote. “I have sons, grandsons, brothers, sons-in-law and a lot of great male friends, how could you let a spokesperson spout such incendiary, hate-filled words and put her forward as your representative. I truly feel sick at the hate and cruelty, the hurt to the lost and innocent men and teenagers who are now probably terrified to call your helpline.”
Echoing the popular sentiment another wrote, “Clearly Lifeline has no interest in the mental health of men.”
Watch this space.
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