How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
Publisher: Ebury Press
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 uncertainties and questions: Why are they supposed to get Brazilians? Why do bras hurt? Why the incessant talk about babies? And do men secretly hate them? Caitlin Moran interweaves provocative observations on women’s lives with laugh-out-loud funny scenes from her own, from adolescence to her development as a writer, wife, and mother.
Caitlin Moran has been my favourite feminist ever since I was first introduced to her articles in The Times a few years ago. When I found out that she had published a handful of books too, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on them. After devouring How to Build a Girl in a few hours, it wasn’t long before I read another book by Caitlin Moran, namely How to Be a Woman.
How to Be a Woman is a document of Caitlin Moran’s life, starting from when she was a child living in Wolverhampton to the present day, when she’s a highly successful journalist. In the book, we find out what it was like for Caitlin (pronounced ‘Cat-lin’, much to everyone’s confusion) to live with seven siblings in a cramped council house and be the only female at The Melody Maker, which she claims is “the weekly music paper that everyone confuses with NME”.
However, I just thought I’d warn you that How to Be a Woman is not everyone’s cup of tea. If you don’t read Caitlin’s articles, you probably won’t be aware of how brutally honest and crass she is. There are also certain parts of the book that I did feel slightly uneasy reading, but I won’t give anything away. Moran does repeat herself a bit and some of her opinions do contradict each other. She can be quite whiny and juvenile too, what with the excessive use of caps lock and exclamation marks. Nevertheless, I decided to give How to Be a Woman a chance, since I enjoy Caitlin’s style of writing and I find her utterly hilarious. I didn’t regret it.
One thing that stands out about How to Be a Woman is the humour. Caitlin Moran is very witty and comes up with some really memorable lines. The book is narrated in a very chatty way and it feels like you are having a conversation with Caitlin. She is good at engaging the reader. I also loved the chapter titles, which relate to particular milestones in Caitlin’s life, for example ‘I Start Bleeding’, ‘I Get Married’ and ‘I Get Into Fashion!”
Female readers will easily relate to the situations described in the book, for example trying to find the right bra, dealing with sexism, and having to remove hair, which we all know isn’t the most pleasant of tasks. Moran also tackles abortion, and I applaud her for doing so; it is such a controversial subject and many women are afraid to talk about it, “unless they are very, very drunk”. In one of the chapters, Moran rants about everyone asking women when they will have kids: how come men are never questioned about their plans to start a family? The underlying message of How to Be a Woman is that women should have more power. Why should we always be secondary to men? Surely everyone should have access to the same opportunities, regardless of their gender? Caitlin Moran also wants us to realise that we are ALL feminists, and it isn’t something we should be ashamed of.
How to Be a Woman is the feminist book every woman needs to read. You’ll instantly feel like Caitlin Moran is your new BFF. It’s hard not to become addicted to her writing. You’ll be left eager for more, trust me.
Have you read How to Be a Woman? What are your thoughts?