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How to Be a Woman - Caitlin Moran As far as I'm concerned, as a 50 something male, Caitlin Moran is preaching to the converted. There's very little in her book that I disagree with. I will encourage my daughter to read it once she is 15 or 16 as I suspect that anyone, and especially females, trying to make sense of the modern world at that sort of age, would find lots of wisdom and insight. Even as (hopefully) a self-aware liberal I gained some insights and new ideas. The book is very enjoyable, particularly those plentiful sections that draw from Caitlin's own experience. That said, there were some parts of the book where I felt she could have been far more succinct without diluting the message.

As I read this book I made a few short notes at the end of each chapter. Some chapters are more successful than others and so I will run through these responses chapter by chapter as it's a more specific way of reviewing the book:

Chapter 1 'I start bleeding' - Caitlin makes a very good point about how it's the crass and desultory joylessness of online pornography that is problematic, and how porn informs and distorts sex education for young people.

Chapter 2 'I become furry' - Some interesting insights into how pornography has made the "Brazilian" standard for modern women. Caitlin rebels against this, stating "a modern woman should have.... a big, hairy minge. I am aware that my views on waxing done contrary to current thinking." Couldn't agree more. Her discourse on body hair is sane and sensible - and highly entertaining.

Chapter 3 'I don't know what to call my breasts' - How to refer to your body parts? Another amusing and wise exposition.

Chapter 4 'I'm a feminist' - not quite as funny or succinct as Chapters 1-3 but still good.

Chapter 5 'I need A bra' - my enthusiasm started to wane during this chapter. The humour is less prevalent and Caitlin labours her points. Her points are still well made, but do we really need 13 pages devoted to underwear?

Chapter 6 'I am fat' - That's more like it. A genuinely insightful and interesting exploration of overeating, full of humour and lots of information that was completely new to me. Brilliant. Everyone should read it.

Chapter 7 'I encounter some sexism' - Another great chapter with interesting and original points, and plenty of funny stuff too. One of the great strengths of this book is Caitlin's complete candour.

Chapter 8 'I am in love' - one of the best chapters yet. Although the books gives a female perspective I think her experience is far more universal - specifically being with someone who is less into you than you are into him/her. Caitlin and Courtney's imbalanced relationship is a great read, and with a feel good ending too.

Chapter 9 'I go lap dancing' - Another thought provoking, if more serious, chapter. I accept Caitlin's distinction between burlesque and strip clubs: humour, joy, and self-expression versus the opposite.

Chapter 10 'I get married' - A very wise and funny chapter. Caitlin's own disastrous wedding is amusingly described, and she explains all the reasons why nobody should ever spend huge sums of money on a wedding. Spot on.

Chapter 11 'I get into fashion' - Found myself repeatedly nodding in agreement. How, and why, do women wear high heels? Caitlin has given up on all women's shoes. Other interesting stuff about expensive bags and clothes generally.

Chapter 12 'Why you should have children' - Less successful but still good. Children are, I think, a wonderful thing but clearly not for everyone. We also get a lot of in depth description of Caitlin's difficult first birth. Too much. And how her attitude and preparation, and therefore the experience, for child number two was so much better. This chapter could and should have been half the length.

Chapter 13 'Why you shouldn't have children' - Ah, here's all the counter arguments, and coherent and compelling they are too: "Feminism needs zero tolerance over baby angst". Sounds reasonable.

Chapter 14 'Role models and what we do with them' - a slightly confusing chapter, Caitlin starts by stating "any modern feminist worth her salt has an interest in the business of A-list gossip: it is the main place where our perception of women is currently being formed. That's my excuse for buying OK!, anyway." Now then, I loathe celebrity gossip magazines. Bizarrely Caitlin then goes on to highlight all the ways in which those same magazines treat women unfairly and undermine them in a way that they wouldn't with their male counterparts. Eh!? Lady Gaga is also heralded as a positive female role model. Gaga's pretty much passed me by, like those horrible celebrity magazines which everybody should ignore. Buying them only encourages them Caitlin.

Chapter 15 'Abortion' - serious stuff wherein Caitlin describes her abortion and the broader issues. Sobering and full of good points.

Chapter 16 'Intervention' aka the plastic surgery chapter aka why Caitlin will grow old naturally. All straightforward and eminently sensible.

Postscript - "all the stories add up to one simple revelation, to just not give a shit about all that stuff." Who can argue with that conclusion?

I was interested to read other reviews of this book. My impression is that whilst most readers are enthusiastic there's a sizeable minority who are angry, outraged, or disappointed and are giving it one and two star reviews - and most of them are women. I find this surprising as I found so little to disagree with. Her style is fairly strident and opinionated which might not be to everyone's taste, and some sections are a little overlong, but fundamentally it's a wise and funny book with some helpful and thoughtful insights.