Wednesday, 11 April 2012

"How to be a Woman," by Caitlin Moran

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Stuff and Nonsense by Amy Cockram is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

It is no surprise that I like this book, since my last 3 posts have been quotes from it.  I was even considering giving it 5 stars on Goodreads, but I think I will give it a 4 (the perfect 5 star read is as mythical as the griffin).

I thought that I was going to like this book when I read the prologue, as I liked her sense of humour.  By page 12, when she said that Germaine Greer was her heroine, I knew that I was going to love it.  I, too, love Germaine Greer because she is a truly excellent mix of being passionate, articulate, intelligent, funny and occasionally barking mad.  I have seen her talk twice, the first time at a feminism conference at which her talk was inspirational - then a later speaker who I won't name came on with a self-aggrandising "feminism-was-great-once-but-now-it's-all-shot-to-hell" litany and completely undid her good work.  Germaine Greer is still fighting; this other woman was giving up.

Caitlin Moran isn't giving up either.  Her book is very funny - I hope my few previous quotes have shown this - but she also seems to be trying to take feminism out of realms of the abstract and theoretical and into the everyday, practical world.  It should be something for real women, and not just fusty academics.  According to her, there is a quick way to work out if you are a feminist:
Put your hand in your pants.
a) Do you have a vagina? and
b) Do you want to be in charge of it?
If you said "yes" to both, then congratulations!  You're a feminist.
Her writing takes in experiences and choices that women face throughout their lives: sexism in the workplace, brazilian politics (and I don't mean the country), marriage, motherhood and abortion.  I would recommend the chapter in which Caitlin relates the difficult and painful birth of her first child to anyone who is feeling broody and - whether it is down to lack of finance, inadequate accommodation, being without a partner or with the wrong partner, or whether it is just not happening - is not currently pregnant.  Her experience is likely to make you feel a lot happier about that; it is an excellent antidote to broodiness and could probably be used as a contraceptive.  If you are currently pregnant, it might be best avoided.  It might be a short-lived antidote, however, as her second labour is easier and she writes about the pleasures - as well as the hard-work - of having children.

It was interesting to read this book, having just read "Eat, Pray, Love" before, as the two are very different.  Elizabeth Gilbert's book is very much a spiritual journey, whereas Caitlin Moran's book is about learning to live as a woman in the physical world with which we are blessed (or which we are stuck in, depending on what kind of a day you've had).  I gave both 4 stars on Goodreads for very different reasons but, if you are a girl and you are only going to read one of these, I'd pick "How to be a Woman."  You might not learn how to meditate, but it might help you to laugh and deal with that bad day at the office.


  1. This is a great book! Caitlin Moran does a great job of bringing the humorous side to some serious topics, while still maintaining their gravity. She is hilarious and I you should absolutely ready it.
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  2. I gave this book to my friend, to inform the education of her little girl as she grows up. I wish we all had a healthy dose of caitlin in us.