Book Review: How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
August 29, 2012 20 Comments
Number of pages: 308
First published: 2011 (UK, this USA edition 2012).
I got this book: from Harper Perennial (HarperCollins) for review
Genre: non-fiction, memoir
How to Be a Woman: What it is about
From the publisher’s website: “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 choices, uncertainties, and questions: Why are they supposed to get Brazilians? Why do bras hurt? Why the incessant noise about having babies? And do men secretly hate them?
At a time when more than 70 percent of American women don’t consider themselves to be feminists, award-winning writer Caitlin Moran offers a provocative, funny, and much-needed polemic on feminism and the state of women today.
Moran interweaves her funny, common-sense observations with scenes from her own life, from her terrible thirteenth birthday (“I am overweight, have no friends, and boys throw gravel at me when they see me”) through the riot of adolescence to her life as a writer, wife, and a mother. With rapier wit, Moran slices right to the truth—whether it’s the workplace, strip-clubs, love, fat, abortion, popular entertainment, or children.”
How to Be a Woman: What I thought
OK, I am a feminist. I haven’t really consciously thought about it much recently, but reading Moran’s book, it turns out most of us are, so I am, too!
That’s good to know. Now, the book doesn’t start well for me. I was really looking forward to reading it, but starting off with menstruation, bodily hair, breasts and bras? I wasn’t interested. I know I’ve got it all, I don’t need to be reminded.
Really only when the book started to mention fashion (followed by babies), I started to get interested, because Moran had some sensible things to say about this, of the kind where you want to write in the comment section: “Me too! Me too”. (But the book didn’t have a comment section, as it’s made of paper, so no one will see what I write in it, least of all Caitlin Moran.) Anyway, then it finally became interesting for me.
It’s amazing I even lasted until the Fashion chapter, as it’s about 2/3rds down the book and I really wanted to give up much earlier. Why I lasted this long? Maybe because it had some funny bits. Laugh out loud funny bits. It wasn’t funny at all time, but it had some great moments.
What I also liked is how Moran argues that feminism isn’t about burning bras and being allowed to work (etc.), but about wearing underwear that fits (rather than being too small and sexy, for the unlikely occasion that today is the day that you’ll meet that guy and you end up undressing – as if he cares about your underwear anyway! He’s just happy to have got you into bed!) and about the right not to work if that’s what you and your family prefer.
What I didn’t like? Maybe the personal accounts were too long for me. I didn’t know Moran before this book so I didn’t have this “nice woman, let’s read her book and find out more about her” kind of attitude when I started the book. I knew it was funny, and that is was about women, but not much more than that.
It didn’t make a lasting impression on me, but some women may find this an inspiring book.
Have you read this book?
Did you enjoy it?