How to Be a Woman

How to Be a Woman am Book I think it s pretty safe to say that this book wasn t written for me Caitlin Moran s columns have always been a bit hit or miss for me but when she s on she s a witty story

How to Be a Woman am Book I think it's pretty safe to say that this book wasn't written for me. Caitlin Moran's columns have always been a bit hit or miss for me but when she's on, she's a witty storyteller with some interesting points to make. She's no groundbreaking pantheon of feminist wisdom, but she's definitely a valuable, and often hilarious, ally. Her book was something I approached with hesitation since several published extracts had left me scratching my head, but with her upcoming scheduled appearance at the Edinburgh Book Festival and my hopes of getting press tickets to said event, I decided to do my research and see what was happening in her ambitiously titled book, already creating big buzz in the press as a new 'fun' type of feminism.Let's start with the positives. Moran's storytelling, while verging closely into column territory with its style, is witty, often heartwarming and very funny, especially when discussing her quirky family and upbringing. As a child, Moran couldn't stand the idea of being pitied, even in her own diary, so would be ridiculously happy when discussing the most mundane of things. Each chapter opens with an account from Moran's life, how it moulded her feminist opinions, then moves into a rambling, colloquial chat about issues Moran considers pressing for the feminist movement, although your mileage may vary on this front. Some parts, such as her discussion on abortion which includes her own experiences, are powerful and get to the true heart of the matter. I truly appreciated this chapter and Moran for spelling out what should be obvious to all - there is nothing wrong with choosing to have an abortion and sometimes it's the easiest decision a woman can make. However, most of the book just doesn't pack the same punch as this segment. I'm 21 and I've only really been seriously discussing my feminism for about 3 or 4 years. It's something I pride myself on in many ways and I love to read feminist literature, partake in debates and educate myself as much as I can on issues that are most pressing to the world's women. I've yet to meet a woman who thinks that coming up with a name for one's vagina is a pressing feminist issue. I understand that the tone of the book is chatty, jokey and often the opposite of serious, but such a topic felt out of place. Other topics that Moran discusses - pole dancing, weight, clothes, stilettos, casual misogyny - reveal no new observations or anything of true substance. The book tries to be both a memoir of sorts and a tome for the 21st century feminist but feels too general and rushed to truly be either. Moran frequently makes sweeping generalisations about men and women in order to make a point, which makes said points feel rather disingenuous. The colloquial style will definitely divide readers and I personally felt that the overuse of capslock, exclamation points and netspeak such as ENDOV and roflment were more of a distraction than anything else, something that's better suited to columns and tweets. Some points also left me asking questions - why is Lady Gaga a feminist symbol who controls her sexuality whilst doing near naked photo-shoots but the myriad of women who did it before her aren't? (It's worth noting, as Moran takes pride in doing, that Moran interviewed Gaga and said interview brought her much attention and acclaim.) Why do you think burlesque dancing is okay but pole dancing isn't? - and other parts coming close to fuming with anger - history has not proven men to be stronger with more achievements than women. Countless women were wiped from history because history is written by the victors! Nobody, female or otherwise, should be able to flirt their way to the top, that's disingenuous and further objectification/casual misogyny! Also, La Roux is a band, not a singer, and said singer, Elly Jackson, is not a lesbian like you said she was. A quick google would show that to you. Lastly, there was one thing that really bugged me, and it was these lines:(On her childhood cheery disposition: "I have all the joyful ebullience of a retard." [Page 5.](On burlesque dancing): "... it has a campy, tranny, fetish element to it." [Page 175.]These aren't the only casually distasteful and problematic jokes Moran makes but these two stood out in my mind as particularly offensive. Since Moran takes a lot of time to discuss the harmful nature of the word 'fat', one would think she'd understand the damaging power of the R word and such ableist/transphobic language. Overall, I'm sure there are many women who will love this book and I'm glad for them. While I vehemently disagree with Moran's assertion that feminism has ground to a halt (grassroots feminism has continued to make leaps and bounds behind the scenes), it is true that many modern women are cautious to label themselves as feminist when in reality it should be worn with a badge of pride. There's a lot to enjoy in Moran's book and some very funny moments but overall, it felt like a failed experiment to me, one that failed to scratch beyond the surface of modern day feminism in a way that would truly bring about the discussions we need. I'd heartily recommend Kat Banyard's "The Equality Illusion" for the starter feminist in need of guidance. Feminism doesn't need to be rock and roll, it's much better than that. EDIT: Downgraded to one star because the more I think about it, the more I realise how much this book, its blatant hypocrisies, the obvious yet un-addressed bias of the author, the lack of fact-checking and the entire "Vichy France with tits" joke piss me off. Yes, Moran, a glamour model is just like the government of France which collaborated with Axis powers during World War 2. It's also hysterically accurate to compare a boy's childish reaction to a piece of underwear to "like that Vietnamese kid covered in napalm.". Keep in mind that all this, on top of the use of the word "retard", is present in a book where Moran writes an otherwise accurate piece on the harmful and emotional power of words such as "fat". I don't care if my criticisms of this get labelled as being too PC or some crap like that. Frankly, I'd rather be PC than crack stupid false equivalences regarding a child screaming in agonising pain. I asked Moran about her use of the word "retard" in her book on more than one occasion on twitter. The result? She blocked me. Nice one. . 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 oThough 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.. Popular Books How to Be a Woman You know what? Since there are so many four and five star reviews hanging around for this, I will serve a proper review to show why I absolutely could not stand this book. Moran is a sporadically talented writer -- maybe it deserved 2/2.5 stars in the writing stakes. However, I did something I almost never do: I rated this book intellectually. As a memoir, it succeeded (almost) brilliantly -- her recollection of her wedding had me in absolute stitches and makes me laugh every time I reread it (yes, I've reread it - multiple times); I liked that she wasn't some middle/upper-class Oxbridge girl, as most of the Times writers seem to be. It was really refreshing to read about her life. That being said, her writer belied her teen-author roots. Listen to me, guys. I'm a 17-year-old aspiring writer. Hannah Moskowitz is one of my favourite authors and MANY OTHER YOUNG ADULT AUTHORS DESERVE THEIR RESOUNDING SUCCESS. (This is in Caps not because I am trying some postmodern thing, emulating Caitlin Moran, but because the antithesis of this point makes me grind my teeth in fury.) I do not believe in any of this "oh you shouldn't be published if you're a teenager" and "everything teenagers write is crap" bullshit. No. It's about the writing and good writing is good writing, regardless of who the author is or how old they are. However, I feel that good books by teenage authors should either belie their early starts (e.g. Invincible Summer) or use all that amped-up hyper-realistic teen experience as their biggest advantage (e.g. Break). Caitlin Moran lacked depth or objectiveness. When you are trying to write a book about feminism, I think that the most you need to be is objective to the max. Caitlin Moran is not. She has the over-eager, juvenile, puerile, irritating narrative voice of someone who is convinced of their opinion despite not having a) real evidence to back it up or b) a real understanding of the opposing viewpoint. There is no real reflection or evaluation. Her opinions can just be summarised as, "I believe this because I believe that X is awesome."This was most painfully obvious during her segment on Lady GaGa. I like Lady GaGa. She appears to have a feminist standpoint and that is very, very good. In my opinion, she's not a "feminist symbol" by any stretch of the imaginaiton. Although Moran could easily have made the case that she was; what irritated me most of all was that Moran's analysis of GaGa never went beyond a giggly teenage girl with an idol, who thinks that said idol is awesome and so has no real sense of evaluation. She calls Lady GaGa her "idol" and refers to an intimate (not sexually intimate, guys, don't go there) experience with GaGa in a sex club. She reminded me a lot of that girl who gets taken for a whirlwind with the rich popular girl and comes back down to earth starry-eyed, completely refusing to hear a bad thing about her "idol."The most jarring thing for me was the way that Moran backed up all her hyperbolising with one anecdote: that GaGa refused to do an album shoot while "down in the sand touching herself." (I'm paraphrasing. I don't have a copy of the book to hand.) Is that feminist? Yes, she refused to be objectified on her body. But with one Google search I turn up a picture of GaGa circa Telephone, with Beyonce, wearing nothing but what looks like some leather straps and leather boots, arms hiding the gory bits but with no doubt that GaGa is, at the very least, 98% naked. She's not quite "down in the sand touching herself" - but she's not far off. Ditto the lesbian kisses in the Telephone video. (It should be noted that I consider it everyone's right to be whatever the hell they want and with whoever the hell they want.) The point is that this wasn't done to show a lesbian relationship - for God's sake, they're in an all-women prison because GaGa's character poisoned her boyfriend. Not exactly the most positive portrayal of lesbianism, which makes the kiss (and the provocative dancing in barely-there underwear) more obvious titillation.The worst example of this in the book is Germaine Greer. However, this is me ranting emotionally. I cannot stand Germaine Greer. Let's leave at that, shall we?I just found all of Moran's arguments totally one-sided, narrow-minded and slightly creepy for their complete inability to take the full picture into account. Another example of this was her burlesque vs. stripping argument -- I know next to nothing abou either, but I would be very surprised if burlesque was made "for women by women" as Moran claims to state. What was most mind-boggling about this book, though, was Moran's inability to accept her own quirkiness. I really hate the word "quirky", but there is no other way to describe it. For instance, her father said to her 'Remember you're a Womble' before walking her down the aisle (and oh, how I laughed). Her mum yelled out about her pubic hair in front of her father and her various mixed-sex siblings. I don't think that 'normal' really exists - but I do think that Moran has particularly unique experiences which she undermines by behaving as though they are commonplace. I've never known a single woman who has named her vagina or her breasts. That being said, I am, as I said above, seventeen. I'm aware that this might be a problem I run into later in life, when I might actually have to address either of those two anatomatical areas rather than just avoiding them altogether. But Moran presents all of this stuff as totally normal. Yes, all women have weird names for their vaginas! Yes, all women have weird names for their breasts! But Moran has a whole Twitter community to back her up on those things! However -- I would bet that most of the women who replied were the ones who ran into this problem (as Moran herself obviously has). It seems that on Twitter, if you don't have anything to add, you don't SAY that you have nothing to add. You just don't add anything. I would be very surprised if Moran received many tweets that could be summarised as "lol what" or "no I don't do that shit", and equally if the Tweeters who replied to her made up any more than a minority of the female British population. ETA: also, I was having a quick look at the Quotes page on our very own Goodreads, and I could not help but see this:"If you want to know what's in motherhood for you, as a woman, then - in truth - it's nothing you couldn't get from, say, reading the 100 greatest books in human history; learning a foreign language well enough to argue in it; climbing hills; loving recklessly; sitting quietly, alone, in the dawn; drinking whisky with revolutionaries; learning to do close-hand magic; swimming in a river in winter; growing foxgloves, peas and roses; calling your mum; singing while you walk; being polite; and always, always helping strangers. No one has ever claimed for a moment that childless men have missed out on a vital aspect of their existence, and were the poorer, and crippled by it." (Note: I believe that both men and women have a right to have or not have children and that women without children should not be treated as emotional cripples for it. Although I do actually feel as though Moran short-changed the joy of having children, but maybe that's what you get for being raised by a mother who was, by her own admission, absolutely desperate to have them.) But am I the only one who sees the problem with this quote? She says that "Nothing [in motherhood] is something you couldn't get from...calling your mum." I didn't notice this when I read it (I don't read that closely, dudes), but seriously? Moran has just used evidence of a would-be mother's mother/child relationship (with her own mother) as a reason why you shouldn't have children? My opinion: seriously faulty analysis. If ringing your own mother gives you such happiness, why wouldn't you want to pass that on? (God, now I sound like someone who is advocating the "all women must have babies" stance. I'm just making the point that I don't think Moran is helping her case here. Even where Moran cannot really be faulted on her analysis, such as in weddings or in her "Why You Should/Shouldn't Have Children" sections (although I was pissed that "Why You Should Have Children" seemed to revolve almost totally around her own experiences of childbirth), it is not the revolutionary piece of literature the back blurb hails. It's very blah, very typical. Nothing you couldn't see every other day in one magazine or another. She even presents stuff that seem to be part of accepted culture, like the fact that weddings cost too much for too little, as though she is the first person ever to have thought of them. Even during the "Why You Should/Shouldn't Have Children" sections, I found myself saying, "Well, *I* could have told you that!" And as a seventeen-year-old who has never been pregnant or even babysat a child, I'm pretty sure that shows how stale, pathetic and shallow most of Moran's supposedly "fresh" insight was.In short, this long, vitriolic review can be summed up in one letter:Dear Caitlin Moran,Please do not let anyone market your book as "The Female Eunuch" if it is, in fact, a pretty good memoir hiding behind some stereotypically teenage-standard analysis.Thank you.
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  1. Caitlin Moran had literally no friends in 1990, and so had plenty of time to write her first novel, The Chronicles of Narmo, at the age of fifteen At sixteen she joined music weekly, Melody Maker, and at eighteen briefly presented the pop show Naked City on Channel 4 Following this precocious start she then put in eighteen solid years as a columnist on The Times both as a TV critic and also in the most read part of the paper, the satirical celebrity column Celebrity Watch winning the British Press Awards Columnist of The Year award in 2010 and Critic and Interviewer of the Year in 2011 The eldest of eight children, home educated in a council house in Wolverhampton, Caitlin read lots of books about feminism mainly in an attempt to be able to prove to her brother, Eddie, that she was scientifically better than him Caitlin isn t really her name She was christened Catherine But she saw Caitlin in a Jilly Cooper novel when she was 13 and thought it looked exciting That s why she pronounces it incorrectly Catlin It causes trouble for everyone from caitlinmoran index.p

306 Reply to “How to Be a Woman”

  1. I think it s pretty safe to say that this book wasn t written for me Caitlin Moran s columns have always been a bit hit or miss for me but when she s on, she s a witty storyteller with some interesting points to make She s no groundbreaking pantheon of feminist wisdom, but she s definitely a valuable, and often hilarious, ally Her book was something I approached with hesitation since several published extracts had left me scratching my head, but with her upcoming scheduled appearance at the Edin [...]

  2. You know what Since there are so many four and five star reviews hanging around for this, I will serve a proper review to show why I absolutely could not stand this book Moran is a sporadically talented writer maybe it deserved 2 2.5 stars in the writing stakes However, I did something I almost never do I rated this book intellectually As a memoir, it succeeded almost brilliantly her recollection of her wedding had me in absolute stitches and makes me laugh every time I reread it yes, I ve rerea [...]

  3. iiiiiiii looooooved thiiiiis sooooooo muuuuuuuchhhh omgggggggg.No but really It s the thing everyone says, but this book is full of so many omg i feel that way too over and over and over again I felt so understood and so together with Caitlin Moran and was so thankful to have this collection of frank and honest thoughts on being a lady today Some people might even use the word empowering.

  4. 1 I am confounded by the critical response Confounded.2 The book is indeed very funny and has its charms but this is far memoir than manifesto and very grounded in a rather singular set of experiences.3 Good humor doesn t elevate common sense wisdom into groundbreaking or important feminist thought.4 Casual racism More than once Or twice 5 Birthing babies makes you a woman, you see But that s followed by a chapter where it s totes okay if you choose not to have a baby.6 People are being REALLY [...]

  5. If you have even slight feminist beliefs, or if you are a woman who wants your eyes opened, sensibilities shocked, and then laugh your ass off, this is the book I read Bossypants, which I love, but Caitlin Moran s strong feminist words were so inspiring to me, and just MADE SENSE I might not have agreed with everything, but I was certainly amused and entertained the whole time Definitely an auto biography worth reading, dude or gal And it s really dirty in parts, she talks about things you NEVER [...]

  6. Much as there is to quibble over a strictly academic handling of feminist thought, if your introduction to feminism began here chances are you will be tempted to think that a jocular disdain for transpeople and tch tch ing sympathy for women outside the sphere of Europe and America could be pardoned in the light of light hearted banter Caitlin Moran has a chatty, teenager ishly snippy voice and she made me collapse into a helpless fit of distinctly unflattering, full blown guffaws often than wh [...]

  7. Quite an uneven reading experience, a fault I largely blame on the marketing of this book How to Be a Woman is touted as basically Feminism now with jokes And that s a concept that I could get onboard with I would consider myself a feminist, I would consider myself moderately amusing at times, and I would consider myself a fan of Caitlin Moran s white streak in her wild mane a bit reminiscent of the 90 s version of Rogue So, yes, let s do this I want to feel empowered as a woman, I want to laugh [...]

  8. Has an appalling case of unpacked privilege Dropping tranny and retard in this book is just the tip of her shitty iceberg.Newsflash feminism that doesn t advocate for ALL women is no better than patriarchy.

  9. Because life is too short to feel guilty about not being a perfect woman Let s get real.Caitlin Moran is wicked funny and painfully, awkwardly truthful in this book Rather than harp on the theoretical implications of modern feminism, Moran skips the arguments and says simply, Feminism is having a vagina and wanting to be in charge of it Ding ding She manages to address the horrors of childbirth and the joys of parenting, the conundrum of naming of vaginas, and the unnecessary discomfort of women [...]

  10. I have laughed out loud in too many public places reading this perfect book that ALL women need to read and all men too My reoccuring thought throughout reading was It s not just me that thinks this way In little over 300 pages this book has made my confidence sky rocket.This book takes you by the shoulders and shakes you like a best friend to remind you how important you are being exactly who you are with your saggy, flabby, wrinkly bits included too Caitlin Moran I demand MORE

  11. After following Caitlin Moran on Twitter for a couple of years now I thought it was eventually time to read one of her books Well, that was one of my better ideas.This can be labelled as a sort of feminist memoir and oh lord, is it good Moran s witty, truthful, and journalistic prose makes reading this memoir a treat A big feminist treat Like Simone de Beauvoir belting a rendition of Beyonc s Freakum Dress while riding on the back of an all fours Jeanette Winterson Her unparalleled attitude and [...]

  12. EDITING TO ADD If you are here to tell me that Moron was just being funny or ironic or any other word meant to belittle my take on Moron s interview and thus insinuate that I just don t get it and I am pearl clutching GET THE FUCK OFF MY REVIEW And go drip your Moron apologia somewhere else I lived in the UK, I understand Moron s humour quite well, and I still think she s a fuckwit poor ass excuse for a female As are her attack fans So buh bye and better luck proselytizing on someone else s revi [...]

  13. Feminists have been moaning about why women and men hesitate to label themselves as feminists these days And rightly so It makes no sense for women or men to be nervous about being pro gender equality I have a theory about that, which fits with both this book s assertions and many of the negative reviews of it here on A lot of traditional feminists have this reputation for being aggressive, judgmental, and overly serious Who wants to hang out with someone who is likely to find fault with everyth [...]

  14. Unfortunately the e reader I was using at the time has lost all of my notes on this, but I wanted to write something here anyway because I think Caitlin Moran is such an extravagantly gifted writer and I thought this book was a kind of masterpiece of its type.Caitlin is my generation, and her English suburban background and sense of humour are mine, so the laughter when I read her stuff is mingled with a constant astonished recognition of the details, everything from adolescent wanking over The [...]

  15. When the subject turns to abortion, cosmetic intervention, birth, motherhood, sex, love, work, misogyny, fear, or just how you feel in your own skin, women still often won t tell the truth to each other unless they are very, very drunk Caitlin Moran is right Nowadays, you DO have to be drunk The last time I heard a female friend relate anything even remotely personal was when L had too much wine at book club and really tore into her deadbeat ex husband Seriously, you earn 98,000 a year but can t [...]

  16. I finished this book over a week ago, but then promptly packed up to go visit my grandmother, and was nowhere near a computer My grandmother turned 95 on Friday She s a pretty remarkable woman There s a story that is told in women s history circles, about the classic assignment to go interview your grandmother, and how everyone comes back, convinced that their grandmother was a feminist, whether or not their grandmother would have agreed with that assessment Everyone s grandmother seems to be o [...]

  17. This is an abridged review You can read the full thing here Also, I demoted it by one star because while I was writing the review, I got to further reflect on and remember all the reasons this book pissed me off so much in the first place It s pretty bad.The thought of this book serving as anyone s introduction to feminism horrifies me.Let s start with Moran s take on a subject near and dear to my heart, women s history Even the most ardent feminist historiann t conceal that women have basically [...]

  18. I m never going to read this book, ever Yes, I may have a lot of privilege, enough that I was able to take an Introduction to Women s Studies course last year at my university.But so does frickin Caitlin Moran.And that does NOT make it okay for her to publish a book MARKETED AS AN INTRODUCTORY GUIDE TO FEMINISM that freely uses hate speech, inserts homophobic remarks, promotes an ableist mentality, and ignores general research to avoid making idiotic generalizations on an individual s sexual ori [...]

  19. Part memoir, part rant, this is my second Moran read and yet again she s left me feeling inspired and empowered, determined to be just a little bit better at being me.

  20. Two caveats One At times, Moran misses the opportunity to connect the feminist needs and experiences of hetero women to the feminist needs and experiences of GLBTQAI, minority communities, and other groups of people to whom the female experience is infinitely parallel.Two I straight up disagree with her on at least two major points But the thing is, her arguments for those two points were not ones I d heard before They made me think about issues in genuinely new ways And I spend a LOT of time th [...]

  21. I remember seeing the cover of this book and wondering Who is this Caitlin Moran person, and why should I care about her being a woman Well it turns out she is quite a big deal in the UK, where she wrote a novel at 15, became a music journalist for the weekly Melody Maker at 16 and briefly hosted a Channel 4 pop culture show called Naked City at 18 before embarking on a long career as a TV critic and satirical columnist for The Times.In fact, while visiting the UK last fall, I saw one of her col [...]

  22. Caitlin Moran, you failed me.I mean, it was a good autobiography but if you re reading this for the feminist aspectjust try with something else.The writing style is probably the most annoying thing ever I have another book by her a gift, also and I m so afraid to read it now, because part of the reason it took me like a week to read this was the writing style I couldn t bring myself to DNF this because I was interested in most of the things she said but it was so hard to get through the narratio [...]

  23. Synopsis1913 Suffragette throws herself under the King s horse 1969 Feminists storm Miss World NOW Caitlin Moran rewrites The Female Eunuch from a bar stool and demands to know why pants are getting smaller There s never been a better time to be a woman we have the vote and the Pill, and we haven t been burnt as witches since 1727 However, a few nagging questions do remain Why are we supposed to get Brazilians Should you get Botox Do men secretly hate us What should you call your vagina Why does [...]

  24. Hmmm This is a tricky one Reading around the Internet, I think a lot of people have been disappointed by this book because they weren t familiar with Moran s other work and were expecting it to be a fully formed feminist manifesto and, having seen a lot of the promotional material for the book, I don t really blame them.This book is a kind of humorous semi memoir sprinkled with generous helpings of Moran s opinions on what it is to be a woman, which has a feminist slant.A bit of a non specific d [...]

  25. Six months ago, a memoir by a British columnist about feminism would not have caught my eye Feminism in this country, anyway always seemed unnecessary to me, something that had been capably handled by the previous generation and no longer required much thought This attitude no doubt stemmed from my having spent the majority of my life in progressive liberal communities and primarily self employed, vaguely aware of that nagging gender pay gap but never having felt personally affected by it.Then c [...]

  26. I won this in the FirstReads giveaway I have never read anything by Caitlin Moran or knew that she was a columnist, so I came to this book without an opinion about the author This is unusual for me I usually pick up humorous memoirs by people I already consider funny because there is nothing worse than life stories from someone you don t know that are supposed to be funny, but are really not that funny It s like hearing a long, awkward story about a coworker s uncle Luckily, Caitlin Moran writes [...]

  27. 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 t [...]

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