Caitlin Moran is one of my favourite newspaper columnists and her book, How to Be a Woman, is a light-hearted look at how the struggle for feminism is far from over.
How to Be a Woman is partly a memoir of Moran’s journey as she navigates learning to being a woman. Personal stories from Moran’s life are interspersed with her thoughts on everyday issues affecting women in the 21st century. As she states in her prologue, if there is a fifth wave of feminism, then this book is her contribution.
This book is refreshingly honest, funny and poignant. Caitlin Moran’s writing is quick-witted and self-deprecating and she provides an insight in to what it’s really like to be a woman. There are some interesting anecdotes and Moran is great at articulating her opinions. Just on one note, in this book, Moran sometimes writes words or sentences in capital letters so it sounds like SHE’S SHOUTING AT ME! All the same, I found myself in agreement with most of Moran’s views.
Feminism has come a long way but there does appear to be some regressions on a smaller scale. Moran mentions the ‘Broken Windows’ philosophy and she applies it to female inequality. Her view is that we should laugh in the face of female inequality instead of getting angry about these injustices.
Recently, ‘feminism’ has become a bit of a dirty word and there is a mistaken belief that feminists hate men. Moran points out that if you believe men and woman should be treated equally, then you are a feminist, regardless of your gender. I guess that makes me a feminist!
There was only one topic which I think we have differing opinions on. At one point, Moran states:
For even the most ardent feminist historian, male or female – citing Amazons and tribal matriarchies and Cleopatra – can’t conceal that women have basically done **** all for the last 100,000 years.
Hey now, what about Marie Curie, Florence Nightingale, Simone de Beauvoir, Amelia Earhart, Margaret Thatcher, Elizabeth I, Rosa Parks, Emmeline Pankhurst, Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters, Mary Wollstonecraft, Coco Chanel and Sacagawea? I can’t imagine any of these females sitting in a corner with their arms folded, thinking: ‘Men are better than me, so what’s the point?’.
Caitlin Moran discusses sexism, but I felt that she missed out something important. Namely, why do some female singers feel the need to be scantily dressed in their music videos and on stage? Male singers don’t do this. Similarly, most rappers have scantily clad females dancing in their music videos. Isn’t this sexism which affects women, especially young teenage girls, in their day-to-day lives? Some people might argue that this is simply a form of female liberation, but I disagree. What kind of message does it send out to young girls who idolise these female singers? The sad truth is sex sells.
I read How to be a Woman in a week and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Caitlin Moran is a great writer and I believe we are on the same wavelength on most issues surrounding modern women. This book is cheering, hilarious and thought-provoking.
My rating: ★★★★☆