So, my sister just finished reading ‘How To Be A Woman’ by Caitlin Moran, which I had given her. She loved it, as did I.
We laughed and laughed at the lovely/funny/mean relationship between Caitlin and her sister Caz, and my sister mentioned the silly bits that she thought sounded like something I’d say (like that she realised she was in love with her future husband because she had a dream about it!).
It’s a really funny book, but also has some really sensible ideas that make me want to give it to all of the young women I know. Like, wondering why none of us had ever heard of Brazilian waxes 20 years ago but now we’re all expected to have them; why being able to run in your shoes should be a basic requirement; as well as some extremely sensible views on abortion and women’s reproductive rights.
One of the many ways in which I identified with Caitlin was being someone who discovered feminism at a young age, so in that respect she was preaching to the choir – I think anyone who doesn’t call themselves a feminist, male or female, is an idiot (although I have long described myself as ‘hardcore’ feminist, rather than Caitlin’s chosen ‘strident’); I seldom wear heels these days and if they do they are anomalous ones that I can actually walk and dance in. I get very annoyed with people who refuse to describe themselves as feminists – for instance, I adore Natasha Khan of Bat for Lashes to the point of fan-worship, but I was really disappointed recently to read an interview where she said (yawn yawn stupid yawn) ‘I wouldn’t describe myself as a feminist’ (and I wish she wouldn’t show her tummy so much, but that’s really none of my business).
So, although I may already have been singing from the same song sheet, I am thrilled that there is now a book that has the same ideas as I have, but in much more fun and funny form, that I can pass around to all of the women in my life. Whether you have always had the same concerns as its author or not, there is no denying that this is a sensible, wise and hilarious book that sounds like it was written by your cooler, funnier mate from the pub. Win all round.
I don’t agree with everything that she says – I think the chapter on cosmetic surgery is a bit simplistic and quite insulting (I don’t want to have any myself and I wish that other people wouldn’t, but I think her blanket contempt of not only cosmetic surgery but the women who have it, goes against her own theory of ‘good manners’); I think to cast yourself as a grand dame at the age of thirty-five is a bit rich; although there is a whole chapter on ‘why you shouldn’t have children’ (as well as a chapter on why you should), I felt as though the subtext of this was ‘if you’re lazy, unlike me!’ (although that could be because I’m a childless woman and she is not, so perhaps if the roles were reversed so would the argument be slightly skewed, however accidentally).
Still, these are pretty minor gripes. I don’t have to agree with her on everything – I’m sure Caitlin would agree that this is part of How To Be A Woman, to pick what you agree with and what you don’t, to formulate your own opinions on things.
Mainly, I’m very, very glad that this book exists, and I will be buying it for a lot of people this Christmas – and I hope it will make lots more women understand what it means and thus WANT to stand up and say ‘I AM A HARDCORE/STRIDENT FEMINIST’.