How to Be a Woman

June 25, 2016
How to Be a Woman Book Cover How to Be a Woman
Caitlin Moran
Non Fiction- Feminism
July 17th, 2012

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 adolescence to her development as a writer, wife, and mother. 

(via Goodreads)


Caitlin MoranCaitlin Moran is a woman I want to go out for tapas with. Not just drinks- we’ll end up partying and staying out too late, and I, by the end, will not have enjoyed myself (I tend to over-party and fall asleep in public places with enabler-types). But tapas and wine will mean an evening of lively conversation with an early bedtime. And I’m all about it. Because this woman is going to be one heck of a conversation partner– funny, self-deprecating, smart, and unafraid to tell you what’s what.

How to Be a Woman is a series of tangentially connected (but all related) essays on feminist topics based on Moran’s life experiences. And this covers the gamut. Menstruation, public hair, clothing/accessories, sexism, societal pressures, love, strip clubs– it’s all there. And it’s really about just leveling the playing field. As Moran says:

“I’m neither ‘pro-women’ nor ‘anti-men’. I’m just thumbs up for the six billion”.

Yes, feminism is addressed directly. Moran points out that feminism has turned into a dirty word. And in my opinion, that’s mostly thanks to the internet– all the different waves of feminism are starting to turn anti-men because of the few actual anti-men feminists and journalistic slant.How to be a woman moran drinks But that isn’t addressed here. What is addressed is that feminism is really about equality. About how making decisions about your body should be your own choices, and not someone else’s. Nor should there be pressure from other people. And that could mean how reproductive rights are more than just abortion. But it can also mean how women feel the pressures of society to dress, act, and interact in specific ways– and that isn’t right either.

Moran has a funny, unapologetic take on her life and feminism. I love how she embraces so much. It’s obvious she has a big heart and it’s easy for her to be open and accepting. She has also taught herself that if she judges something or someone that she is the one who needs to check herself. It’s really refreshing. And often laugh-out-loud hilarious.

What is feminism? Simply the belief that women should be as free as men, however nuts, dim, deluded, badly dressed, fat, receding, lazy and smug they might be. Are you a feminist? Hahaha. Of course you are.

Personally, I also really enjoy her writing style. I loved that a paragraph could just be a single sentence. Or that sometimes EVERYTHING WAS IN ALL CAPS. This made reading the book feel more like a conversation than reading. She makes me want to cheer and dance. Her attitude is contagious. And I appreciated that.

I also appreciate her love for all things literary:

And every book, you find, has its own social group– friends of its own it wants to introduce you to, like a party in the library that need never, ever end.

(This is the truth, Caitlin. And why I find myself picking up 4 books at the library for each one I return… but I digress.)

I also didn’t agree with everything Caitlin Moran wrote. I felt like many of her views were a bit closed off, honestly. But those are her opinions, and it’s not my place to tell her she is “wrong”. Rosie the RiviterNo, this is Caitlin Moran’s story, people. It’s her memoir, just with a feminist slant. Yes, it comes from a privileged* white girl slant, too, but that’s okay (*Okay, she grew up poor, but she is still privileged in a lot of ways) . There are a lot of those privileged white girls out there. Hell, I’m one of them. But we also need our own voice for feminism. More frequently that I’d like to admit, I am told that my opinion doesn’t matter because of my background. I’m not prejudiced against enough to have a voice. Well, that’s shenanigans, people! Sheeee-nanigans.

I can relate to much of what Moran says, and I support her. I like that I didn’t agree with everything. It means that I thought about what I was reading and applied it back to my life.

I want a Zero Tolerance policy on All The Patriarchal Bullshit.

The biggest thing for me that I want to echo from this book is that we need to TALK about it. So many people don’t talk about these issues because they are embarrassed, scared, or ashamed. Or maybe they’ve never thought to talk about it. But why do we feel that way? Because of the patriarchy. Thousands of years of being seen as unclean or unequal. We’re moving beyond that, but the stigma of silence hasn’t been lifted. And it won’t be lifted until we voice our experiences, our feelings, and our opinions.

But as the years went on, I realised that what I really wanted to be, all told, is a human. Just a productive, honest, courteously treated human.

So read this book. Read How to Be a Woman. And then talk about it. Engage in feminism. Because we are all feminists.

4 stars

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