How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran

How To Be A Woman first found its way into my hands a year ago when a very lovely friend gave me it as a gift. As you can see from the note she wrote inside ‘I hope this book makes you as happy as it made me‘, she had high hopes that I would fall for Moran’s writing. Off course I was delighted to receive such a lovely gift, but if I’m being completely candid, yes I had reservations.

How To Be A Woman, written by a woman I’ve never even met before?! My first reaction was one of slight stubbornness and a good douse of disbelief. Why after twenty-six years of being female would I need a total stranger to tell me the secrets of ‘being a woman’? Then I read the blurb and realised this was also a book on feminism and I’m now ashamed to say I let out a loud groan of dissatisfaction.

I’m not a feminist! I don’t need to burn my bra’s or march against woman’s right, life is good, there’s nothing to ‘moan’ about. Oh, how wrong I was, how very wrong. Two weeks after finishing this book and I can’t believe I ever made such bogus, irrational and quite frankly ridiculous statements.

Read the below extract from the book and tell me what you think?

I realised that its technically impossible for a woman to argue against feminism. Without feminism, you wouldn’t be allowed to have a debate on a woman’s place in society. You’d be too busy giving birth on the kitchen floor – before going back to quick-liming the dunny. This is why those female columnists in the Daily Mail – giving daily wail against feminism – amuse me. They paid you £1,600 for that, dear, I think. And I beat it’s going in your bank account, and not your husband’s. The more women argue, loudly against feminism, the more they prove it exists and that they enjoy it’s hard-won privileges’.

It was from around this paragraph on that I began to see the light at the end of tunnel. After years of perceiving feminism as a simply overly angry and outdated movement the blinkers began to come off and I realised that feminism was not only all around me, but an important movement that must never die out.

I chose to go to work today and tonight I’m writing my opinions in my blog. Simple choices that we daily take for granted and yet would I swap my laptop for some washing up gloves? My own voice for that of all of male societies? No. And for that off course I must thank feminism.

So after reeling in my attention with her powerful and provoking opening, Moran continued to dazzle and amaze me with her witty, outrageous and refreshingly honest prose. No punches are pulled in her ‘part memoir, part rant’. Which details Moran’s experiences from her first period, to body images, through to pregnancies, sexism and abortion.

I didn’t agree with all of her theories or ideas. I don’t think for example think that there is more pressure on women than men to portray themselves through their clothes. Nor have I quite made my own mind up on lap dancing bars, a subject Moran debates in great detail. I believe woman have a choice to do as they please, so long as they are safe and happy.

But then another part of me does despair at women who seem to sell themselves in such a one-dimensional, objectified and sexual way. There’s nothing worse than seeing a woman caked in three inches of make-up, wearing vertigo inducing heels and the most miniscule of clothing. It wasn’t until I read How To Be A Woman that my underdeveloped and unattended opinions began to take real form. In short this is a truly thought-provoking book.

Perhaps the most admirable piece of the whole book though is when Moran talks about the reason why sexism exists. There was none of the ‘girls your boyfriend secretly wants to kill you, he must be destroyed’ anger that I had expected and instead a very honest and brave admission that woman are overlooked as the weaker sex because for so many years we have being.

We are physically the weaker sex….so to the powerful came education, discussion, and the conception of ‘normality’…without citites, philosophers, empires, armies, politicians, explorers, scientists and engineers – women were the losers’. 

Off course Moran isn’t anti woman. She’s actually pro men and woman. She just highlights the simple fact that woman have, for many years, being the weaker sex and despite great advances in feminism we’ve not even begun to show the world what we’re made off. Were coming out the shadows after years of being looked down upon, even by ourselves and we have a voice.

It does help that Moran is so side-splitting funny, there just aren’t enough books that simply make you laugh out loud. I’ve read mixed reviews of this book and I know many people who didn’t like. But I also know many people who love it. My advice is this; men and woman read this book! Try it, feminist or not. You might hate it, you might love it, either way I’m sure it will get you talking and after all that’s what good books do.


4 thoughts on “How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran

  1. I found this book such a delight to read, even if I couldn’t really agree with her idea that things would work out if everyone was ‘nice’. But isn’t is so, so, so funny. I laughed like a crazy thing and I too think EVERYONE should read it.

    • Hi Skiourophile, I think that’s the great thing about this book, you don’t have to agree with all of her points to enjoy it. There’s enough humour in there to keep you hooked and entertained, even when you reach a part of her argument that you disagree with.

  2. Great post Lou. I absolutely loved this book. Cried laughing and just cried in places. (I sound like a sleeve blurb, sorry). I think she’s hilarious but very warm, plus there was some seriously thought-provoking stuff in there for women of our age group who have come to take feminism a bit for granted. I also loved the stuff about spotting sexism – it certainly does take a different, less obvious form these days but it’s definitely there. In short – brilliant. I’m making my husband read it!

    • Don’t apologies, that was like my reaction. And your’e right, it is very thought provoking. A word that gets banded around, but definitely applicable here. I loved the bit on spotting sexism too and I think this book has given me more confidence sticking up for myself if I even encountered feminism. Let me know your husband thinks.

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