Books for budding feminists: Caitlin Moran, How to be a woman
Finding something that makes you laugh hysterically, clutch your chest at a shared painful memory and then reminisce fondly on the way you fumbled through it is really quite difficult. It’s pretty hard to write something that one person, let alone thousands, can relate to like this, but Caitlin Moran has done just that in her relatively recent book called How to be a Woman.
Don’t get confused by the title – this book does not fall into the every-growing chasm of self help literature. No, this book is far, far too entertaining and enjoyable to be lost on that shelf. It chronicles events and memories in Moran’s life that signified major moments in her journey to becoming a woman. It is clever, pithy and warm while still achieving some hair raising outrageous heights.
What I liked most about this book, after the honesty, was that Moran included excerpts from her own diary when she was a teenager. I also enjoyed that she didn’t refrain from using capital letters to emphasize the important points. As a result, not one important point will pass you by.
One thing I’ve grown to dislike about feminism is that a lot of people try to categorise it, or make prerequisites for inclusion. For example, some people believe that if you are anti-abortionist or if you have sex with a different man every night, then you cannot be a feminist. This is a load of rubbish, and I love that Moran includes two chapters that work to explain this with one titled: why you should have children and the other: why you shouldn’t have children.
She totally gets that just like every human being is unique, so is every feminist. Think about it – it makes sense.
Her prose is cheeky and fun and at one point she encourages us as readers to stand on a chair and shout “I AM A FEMINIST” simply because everything is more exciting if you stand on a chair and do it. But deep down she believes that every person with a vagina who wants to have control over it is already a feminist regardless of whether they call themselves that or not. I’d like to agree with her, but I just don’t think I’m quite there yet. Maybe I’ve seen too many women who hate the idea of feminism, or maybe I’m just being sceptical. I honestly don’t know.
I love this book for so many reasons and I guess the main one would have to be that it has made feminism a fun thing to read about in the mainstream. This is the kind of book you could give to a non-feminist person and they wouldn’t gripe at you for trying to push your beliefs onto them. While I don’t agree with every point Moran makes, it is gentle in the way it endorses feminism – well aside from the chair section – and is a lighthearted read for any woman of any age.
We all know how horrible it is getting our periods for the first time, how hard it can be dealing with the pressure to fit in, and some of us can relate to the feeling of being the fat kid left to wander around alone while other kids go out and play together. I am not one of them but I’ve seen enough kids like it for the book to pull at my heartstrings a little.
I guess the reason I chose to read this one on my feminist journey was the bold title. It suggested that there were things I needed to know in order to be better at being a woman. In contrast I discovered that the only thing I needed to know and find was confidence to be myself. The book teaches that women are not the product of Brazilians, Botox and boxes of high heels – they are but the mind and body that they were born with. It doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing so long as you are happy with you. If you’re having trouble then perhaps try Moran’s method and get up on a chair. You have absolutely nothing to lose!