How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran

So, I’ve finally got around to write a little something about Book 4 of Emma Watson’s feminist book club Our Shared Shelf – it’s Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Woman! 

«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 Brasilians? 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-lout 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 humour, insight, and verve, How To Be A Woman lays bare the reasons why female rights and empowerment are essential issues not only for women today but for society itself.»

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I have already discussed this book with various friends and everytime they asked me what I thought, I came back to same response: «Well… meh!» It’s funny, it’s dirty (like, actually dirty dirty – the kind that makes you want to wash your hands afterwards!), it has a couple of interesting ideas… it’s just not very deep. What really bothered me was the humour. I’m not sure if I’m just not British or funny enough to get it, but it just felt over the top. I understand the attempt to make feminism seem more enjoyable than the bunch of angry, non-shaving man-eaters do, but there is a difference between joking about sexism in the office and joking about abortions – even if you’ve had one yourself. And the notion of what I have to do in order to be a woman I can simply not live up to. According to Caitlin Moran, I have to…

… finger myself ten hours a day

… stand on a chair and shout, «I AM A STRIDENT FEMINIST!»

… taste my own menstrual blood

… refuse to shave anything

… not wear high heels

… when pregnant, refuse to prepare myself for the birth

… not have a fancy, enjoyable fairytale wedding

… have an abortion

… … …

Okay, before any of you start yelling at their screens, I KNOW THIS IS NOT WHAT SHE MEANT! But her opinion on these things is so strong, it scares me a little. And that’s the real shame, because largely I agree with her! To be honest, I think it was about time someone pointed out that masturbation is not something only disgusting males do, and that women do have sexy fantasies. I agree that shaving our legs and everything else has turned into a bit of an unhealthy obsession in our society, and that high heels are just incredibly uncomfortable and useless, as are insanely expensive handbags. And she’s right about weddings, about abortion (god, I’ve been waiting fort hat exact opinion in an author!) – it’s all true! Well, mostly, anyway. So, in that sense, WELL DONE, CAITLIN!

I might have enjoyed this book more, were it more of a secret gem; but it’s so hyped and it’s supposed to be so extraordinary, I found it to be a bit of a let down. Her ideas are not inherently bad or wrong, but nor are they very original. But hey, maybe our society just needs to be reminded, and maybe Caitlin Moran can speak to people Emmeline Pankhurst couldn’t reach, and then the whole point of the book has been achieved! So I shall not condemn it!

To finish this round off, let me leave you with a part that I particularly enjoyed reading:

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Lots of love from the roots of my heart!
xxx

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