Wednesday, 25 January 2012

How to be a Woman

These days, sexism is a bit like Meryl Streep in a new film. Sometimes you don't recognise it straight away. You can be up to 20 minutes in, enjoying all the dinosaurs and the space fights before you go, oh my god. Under the wig. THAT'S MERYL!"
Caitlin Moran, How to be a Woman

I first spotted this book in Waterstones, months before compiling my Christmas wish list to Santa. Naively unaware of who Caitlin Moran actually was, I was unashamedly drawn in by the book’s title and the fact that the authoress had white blonde streaks in her hair and a face that clearly meant business.

 Months later, I received the book from Liam for Christmas and read it within a week. It certainly didn’t disappoint. The initial chapters are perhaps some of the best. Writing about her experiences as a teenager, Caitlin explains what it is like to grow up as an overweight girl in an overcrowded house in Wolverhampton. She guides us through the angst-ridden trials of growing up- from how Jilly Cooper’s Riders was her main source of sex education to her turbulent and also hilarious relationship with her sister, Caz.

From the beginning, I was hooked. Like any good book, the great thing about How to be a Woman was that it was easy to identify with. Aside from that, it is hilariously funny and refreshingly honest. Moran approaches subjects many women choose not to talk about- from what to call your vagina to how much childbirth really hurts. On the issue of weight, she simply states that we should be ‘human shaped’, instead of indulging ourselves either with an excess of cake or an excess of aerobics classes.

The best chapter for me is on the topic of female role models in which Moran writes about Katie Price. Recalling the interview she had with Price, she describes her frankly as a “mimsy quisling fuck.” Honest as ever, she goes on to explain her dislike of someone who unashamedly courts the press’ attention with little talent to back it up.

I have read many reviews on this book and many critics have been far from complimentary about how ‘feminist’ the book really is. My opinion is that Caitlin Moran is not pretending to be Simone de Beauvoir. Although there are explicit references to Germaine Greer, Moran is clear there is no comparison. These are academics that have inspired her. However, she is also inspired by Lady Gaga, Jilly Cooper and Lily Allen.

A fantastic read for women of any age and a great take on feminism in the 21st century. Give it a read.