Title: How to be a Woman
Author: Caitlin Moran
On the Shelves: Non-fiction> memoir
“Though they have the vote and the Pill and haven’t been burned as witches since 1727, life isn’t exactly a stroll down the catwalk for modern women. They are beset by uncertainties and questions: Why are they supposed to get Brazilians? Why do bras hurt? Why the incessant talk about babies? And do men secretly hate them?
Caitlin Moran interweaves provocative observations on women’s lives with laugh-out-loud funny scenes from her own, from the riot of adolescence to her development as a writer, wife, and mother. With rapier wit, Moran slices right to the truth—whether it’s about the workplace, strip clubs, love, fat, abortion, popular entertainment, or children—to jump-start a new conversation about feminism. With humor, insight, and verve, How To Be a Woman lays bare the reasons female rights and empowerment are essential issues not only for women today but also for society itself” (Goodreads 2014)
“For throughout history, you can read the stories of women who – against all the odds – got being a woman right, but ended up being compromised, unhappy, hobbled or ruined, because all around them, society was still wrong. Show a girl a pioneering hero – Sylvia Plath, Dorothy Parker, Frida Kahlo, Cleopatra, Boudicca, Joan of Arc – and you also, more often than not, show a girl a woman who was eventually crushed.”
I went into this book with very mixed opinions. On the one hand, I had my dad’s birthday present from his work and got told to buy him some books, and maybe one for myself, I had heard a lot of about Catlin Moran’s book from other feminist friends, and was on the fence as to whether to buy it. So I did…and it sat on my shelf for a good few months. The reason why is what follows:
There was an internet twitter incident not long ago, where Moran tweeted a comment about young adult literature, which was thoroughly slammed by Patrick Ness and other authors. She essentially made a comment that there are no gritty or “mature” themes within YA literature. This made me feel quite annoyed by her. So as you can see, I put the book off because I was so on the fence about whether I actually wanted to read any more of her opinion. (Linky link to an article regarding her statement and the following responses it caused)
However, I finally picked this book up, and I’m glad I did. For one thing it certainly lessened my dislike of her. The thing about memoirs and such, and even articles and reviews, is that you need to remember it is one person’s personal opinion, and just because it is their opinion, does not mean it is right or wrong indefinitely and that they are saying “yes this is what you should all believe”. It is just a case of “Well this is what I believe or think about this”.
This book follows Caitlin’s journey through being a young girl in a cramped household, to going through puberty, learning what the hell periods are, how the work place is for women and all “the patriarchal bullshit” which happens along the way. My god, I spent my train journeys laughing while I read this book- in a good way, I mean!
The only other book like this I have read so far, is Tina Fey’s “Bossypants”, another great feminist memoir which had me in fits of laughter. So much of it is true, and actually quite disturbing, when you consider how females are treated in our society. But there were times when I was reading certain topics and I actually had genuine “oh thank god I’m not the only one who thinks that!”, ranging from what women are told to do to their bodies mainly to be considered “not lazy” followed by how women are supposed to react to aging, in terms of dying hair and worrying about wrinkle lines.
Just this year, the BBC ruled that women presenters of their children’s programming should not be allowed to wear red lipstick as it is considered “too sexy”. You almost never see women presenters who have grey hair or who appear to be over the age of around 40…whereas there are men presenting on the BBC who effectively look like dinosaurs in comparison.
Just…yes. Good. It does have some flaws and some statements that I don’t personally agree with, that is fine. But for the most part, I have a lot of feelings about this book which go along the lines of “read it, laugh, possibly cry, and damn the patriarchy!”
“Batman doesn’t have to put up with this shit–why should we?”