How To Be A Woman is part feminist manifesto, part rant, part memoir. Detailing her journey from her 13th birthday – when Moran was 13 stone and eating cheese off a fork – to her present savvy self, Caitlin Moran presents a hilarious and at times moving portrayal of the precarious journey of learning just how to be a woman.
What makes Moran’s writing unique is that she is genuinely a very funny woman. She writes about life in a way that is relatable and snort-milk-through-your-nose hilarious. Her take on feminism is refreshing, modern,and importantly, relevant and true. At one point, Moran urges the readers to stand on a chair and proclaim they are “STRIDENT FEMINISTS”. She is not a man-hater as so many feminists are often seen as, but far from it. Her view is that everyone on earth is just “one of the guys” and it would be so much better if we could just all get along.
If you’ve not read any more in-depth feminist books (such as Germain Greer’s The Female Eunuch, which incidentally is mentioned many times throughout this book,), How To Be A Woman is a brilliant introduction to feminism. Whilst it doesn’t handle the big issues such as female genital mutilation or forced marriage, instead it very much takes its tone from the saying “the personal is political”. Moran writes about the things many women won’t talk about sober: porn, masturbation, growing a muff ‘fro, childbirth, love, abortion, that fact that walking in heels really does hurt. One chapter is entitled “Why you should have children” which is followed by another chapter “Why you shouldn’t have children”. She debates that over-eating is an addiction, why burlesque is acceptable and lap dancing isn’t and what to do when you “encounter some sexism”. She covers even the most delicate of subjects with raw wit, brutal honesty and occasionally verging into hysterical SHOUTY CAPITAL LETTERS.
It’s the kind of book that should be immediately handed around to every woman you know and should be obligatorily given to all daughters and sisters on their 13th birthday. It’s a remedy to the Ok! magazine culture of plastic surgery, Brazilian waxes and WAGs that we seemed to have deemed “normal”.
How To Be A Woman is one of those delicious and rare books that once you’ve finished reading, you’ll want to flick back to the beginning and read it all again, savouring every moving, occasionally shocking, enlightening and hilarious detail.