Sunday, October 23, 2011

How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

The blurb on the back of the book is so apt I'm just going to copy it here.
1913 – Suffragette throws herself under the King’s horse.
1969 – Feminists storm Miss World.
NOW – Caitlin Moran rewrites The Female Eunuch from a bar stool and demands to know why pants are getting smaller.

There’s never been a better time to be a woman: we have the vote and the Pill, and we haven’t been burnt as witches since 1727. However, a few nagging questions do remain…

Why are we supposed to get Brazilians? Should you get Botox? Do men secretly hate us? What should you call your vagina? Why does your bra hurt? And why does everyone ask you when you’re going to have a baby?

Part memoir, part rant, Caitlin Moran answers these questions and more in How To Be A Woman – following her from her terrible 13th birthday (‘I am 13 stone, have no friends, and boys throw gravel at me when they see me’) through adolescence, the workplace, strip-clubs, love, fat, abortion, TopShop, motherhood and beyond.
So there's that. I picked up this book as part of the A Practical Wedding Book Club and loooooved it. Moran talks about feminism the same way I feel about it. And she's fiercely feminist without giving up the fun things about being a girl (bitching, dressing up, sleeping with musicians).

Moran is terribly funny and the book is a very well put-together memoir/manifesto. Each chapter starts with a (usually traumatizing) episode on Moran's road to womanhood (getting her period, falling in love, having a baby) and segues into a discussion of the effect of the kyriarchy on modern women. Only not as boring as I made that sound. It hilarious. I lol'ed out loud. Several times.

I'm trying to think of a particularly funny passage to share, but it's hard to pin one thing down. The time Moran and a friend were thrown out of a strip club accused of being hookers? Her night with Gaga in a BDSM club? Discovering that even with professional stylists and designer duds, she still didn't look like a model in 98 out of 100 photos? Life's tough out there for a girl.

As a warning, Moran writes very conversationally and is British. I had a bit of difficulty following some of the celebrity references (other than those about Jennifer Aniston) and I had no idea what TopShop is. Not a big deal really, the context comes across. Additionally the book was only published in Britain so Amazon shipping is slow and $$$. I bought my copy used on and got it faster and cheaper.

So basically everyone should read this book. Its amusing, affirming, it made me fall in love with Lady Gaga and finally, finally gave me a simple litmus test for detecting sexist bullshit - "Is it polite? Are the boys doing it?" Yay for feminists having fun :)


miranda. said...

Damn you. I was so close to dominating the entire front page.

Abby-Wan Kenobi said...

Prepare for continued disappointment. I've finished two more books and intend to post. Plus I'm going to spend 36 hours in airports and on planes in the next 9 days. Literature is about to be my b*tch.

Which reminds me, what books do you think my Kindle should bring to Europe?