How to Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran

How to Be a Woman

 

 

I’m just gonna throw this out there – I didn’t love this book*. In fact, I had some issues with a lot of it. So if that might upset you, then please feel free to skip this whole thing. Also, I’m not really going to call “spoilers” for anything in this book, because it’s a memoir/feminist issues kind of book, so there’s not really “spoilers”, you know?

Caitlin Moran says that if you have a have a vagina and want to be in control of it, then you’re a feminist. And that’s a cool definition, one I can totally get behind… except that most of the rest of this book is the reason why I don’t like saying that I’m a feminist.

So, the book kind of follows Caitlin as she grows up and encounters various growing-up issues that females run across. We start of with periods, body hair, boobs – all the stuff that has to do with puberty, basically. From there she discusses weight issues, running into sexism, love, marriage, strip clubs, kids, abortion – all the more adult stuff. And all the chapters usually tie into the feminist issues that go along with those topics. Even when there’s nothing feminist about that topic…

I’m trying really hard right now not to vent about all of my little issues with this book. (It helps that I already went over them all, practically chapter by chapter, with my boyfriend while I was reading it. I ranted a lot.) Soooo… let’s just do this in a clearcut fashion then, huh?

Here are the things I liked:

  • The chapter about abortion. Probably the best written chapter in the book.
  • The part where she talks about weddings, and how it’s insane that people spend SO MUCH MONEY just on one day when that money could be used for so many better things.
  • Her saying that she’s all for pornography (her issue is with the porn industry, I guess, but not porn itself.)
  • Her actual definition of feminism.

Here are some things I didn’t like:

  • That she tries to turn things like body hair, underwear, shopping, and more into feminist issues. They’re not, really. And that she basically blames men for pressuring women to conform and that’s why we get Brazilians or wear thongs. (I promise, 90% of men could care less about these things. If all women decided next week to not wax down there and we went back to granny panties, there would be no uproar from most of the men.)
  • That at her first job she went around making out with the whole office, but then was all “That’s sexism!” when some guy asked her to sit on his lap. Sure, it was inappropriate and screwed up… but honestly what did you expect?
  • That she glorifies Lady Gaga as a feminist. Just… ugh.
  • That this is a “how to be a woman book”, but near the end she goes and spends a ton of money on a designer purse because of what she sees in a magazine. The fact that she’s in her 30’s and worrying that she’s not a “normal woman” because of what she reads in a magazine says more about her insecurity issues than anything else.
  • That in the chapter “Why You Should Have Children” chapter, she says that anything else in life you might enjoy – champagne, Paris, etc. – is just a consolation prize because you don’t have a kid.
  • That she rails against the porn industry because they cater so much to men, and that there should be more porn aimed towards women. This is not a feminist or sexist issue – there’s a reason that they cater to men – it’s called supply and demand. Men buy a whole ton more porn than women do.

If this had been just a regular memoir and not titled “How to Be a Woman” and not promoted as a feminist book, I might have enjoyed it more. But this is in fact, how NOT to go about being a woman (If you’re reading this, you’ve probably already figured it out. This book is not geared towards teens) and how not to be a feminist, either. Caitlin Moran has actually made me realize why I don’t like the word “feminism” – she tries to blame men for things that they really have no control over and aren’t forcing women to do. She hardly mentions actual problems, like pay inequality, sexual harassment, how rape is prosecuted around the world, etc. She says that women should be allowed to do whatever they want, but then criticizes strippers. She goes all “fuck the patriarchy”, but I don’t see her running for any government office, either. From now on, maybe I’ll just say that I support women’s rights, or equality for women, rather than use the F word. At the very least, Moran did me a favor by helping me to see exactly what irks me about that word.

Sooo… this was an interesting book. There were a few laughs. She made a couple good points. But I have a lot of post-it notes spread throughout my library copy, in which I’m arguing with her. Overall, it was frustrating.

You want to know how to be a woman? Don’t give a crap what anyone else thinks and do what YOU want.

 

Sarah Says: 2 stars

 

*PS Laura don’t hate me!

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16 comments

  1. Wow, I can imagine I’d be annoyed with this book, too, considering your review. Although I certainly support women’s rights and equality, I don’t like to declare myself as a feminist either, for the same reason you mention – people/’feminists’ like Moran blaming men for the problems they have nothing to do with.

    I agree on all your points. Oh, and the wedding thing, it’s so stupid spending so much money on one day instead of saving it or spending it on something else or helping some people with it. A friend (more like an acquaintance actually) of mine is getting married this weekend and it makes me sick because I know they’re going all out with it.

    Sorry for the long ramble. Thanks for the review! The title’d seemed interesting but now I’ll stay away from it, so you saved me some time (and money, lol).

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    1. The wedding thing is SO TRUE. I know someone who got married like 2 years ago, and they’re still paying off the wedding and therefore can’t even start saving for a house or anything yet. Like, why wouldn’t you use that money for the down payment on your house together? Why spend tens of thousands of dollars just on one day?

      *shakes head*

      But yeah, overall… there was a lot of stuff I disagreed with in this book.

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  2. SO! I think I might have to list my responses to things (I’m not going to convince you that you like it, obviously, but… I just need to say these things, ok?!) SO:

    1) I think that basically, anything that’s to do with women is a feminist issue, is what she’s going for with things that you don’t necessarily think of as them. And a lot of the things she’s talking about, it’s kind of like… She brings them up as women holding themselves back, I think rather than ‘It’s the MENS who’re making us do this! DAMN those men!’ As in, like, getting a full on bikini wax because they THINK it’s what men would like, rather than cause they want to.

    2) Duuuuude, just because a woman goes around snogging all these dudes, doesn’t mean they have a right to sexually harass her! That’s like when people say ‘oh, she was wearing a short skirt, what did she expect’ when someone gets raped. NOT COOL.

    3) I’m actually not really down with the Gaga thing. Although she does do whatever the fuck she wants and is a better role model than Katie Price, who you wouldn’t know who that is, but believe me, she’s a dick. So I think her as a counter-argument is fair enough, but I don’t really like her.

    4) I think that whatever she says in the ‘Why you should have children’ chapter is kind of offset by the ‘Why you shouldn’t have children’ chapter, non? I mean… She just wanted a chapter about how she really loves her kids!

    5) I mean, yeah porn caters to men because they buy more of it, but the reason women buy less is because it doesn’t cater to them and their sexual desires like at all. Which is kind of sexist, no?

    This was meant to be a shorter comment, but I got all defendy! Whoops! I think ALSO that this is supposed to be a relatively light hearted book, so the fact that she looks at like bikini waxes and handbags and stuff and NOT rape conviction rates and abortion rates and all *those* women’s issues is kind of deliberate because 1) they’ve alllll been done a million times over, and 2) she’s trying to lure people into feminism and indoctrinate them before they realise what’s happened, which I think is just FAB!

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    1. Hiiii! So I’m only gonna really reply to two points, cause you know, we’re not really debating or anything here, lol.

      About #2 – So, I think that going around making out with a lot of guys in the workplace is a bit different than a woman who is showing some skin getting raped. Obviously there’s is NEVER a situation in which a woman should expect to or deserves to get raped, or seriously assaulted in any way. However, someone making a comment to a person based on their behavior is another story. You shouldn’t judge a person just based on what they’re wearing, but when a lady goes around making out with all the office boys she IS earning herself a reputation, and you can’t expect people not to comment on that. And I think that works both ways – if there’s a guy that’s being kind of the office philanderer, people would make comments to him too – women wouldn’t necessarily be flirty about it, but people would say something to effect of him getting around. Also, I know that there’s a bit of a double standard here – as a society, we just kind of accept that men are dogs, and women take more heat for their sexual history. And that sucks. However, I personally just think that people should just not be skanky, both men and women, and I also don’t necessarily think it’s terribly wrong to pass judgement on a person’s behavior. Cause if you can’t judge people based on people’s actions, what can you judge them on? (And come on, we all make judgements about people, at the very least in our own heads.)

      So yeah, her behavior in that situation made it a bit different. Not saying that the guy’s comment wasn’t rude or inappropriate in a work environment… but so is getting romantically / sexually involved with people at work.

      As for #5 – I think that there IS some porn out there geared towards women – I can’t remember exactly, but Moran might have even conceded that point. She was kind of angry that “for men” porn dominates and there’s so much more of it, and so she was railing against the porn industry for that. But I don’t think that the reason women don’t buy porn is because they can’t find any suited to their desires – I think it’s partly because women watching porn is still a taboo thing, and partly that women are a lot more frugal when it comes to spending money on something like porn. A man with an extra $100 in his pocket might head to the porn shop or video booth or strip club – a woman with that same money would probably rather spend it on her kids, or on clothes, books, a night out, wine, gas… basically anything else. It’s definitely not something I’d want to spend my money on.

      But for REAL this would be so much more fun to talk about in person or on the phone or something! Come to the Staaaaaates! (Although honestly, you might not want to. England sounds way better.)

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  3. I didn’t like this book either. I tried to write a positive review of it but there wasn’t much in there I liked. Yours is the first review I’ve read that I can relate to vs. all the other bloggers who are raving.

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    1. Dude THANK YOU, lol. I was actually nervous writing this review because I know how many of my blogging buddies like it. And I kind of saw this coming and avoided reading it for a long time, but when I saw it at the library I figured “Ok, people love her, so I’ll give it a shot.” And today I was like “Dammit Sarah! Why did you read this book! Writing the review is too hard.”

      I’m going to come check out your review now.

      Like

    2. Damn, so I can read your review if I’m on your blog’s main page, but when I try to click on the actual review to leave a comment, it says that the page cannot be found? 😦

      But anyways, your review was so much nicer than mine! It’s true, she didn’t seem to have a lot of love for herself… she comes across as very insecure, and maybe that’s why she so often was dealing with pressure from society about these topics. Whereas I’m more “Well if you don’t want to wax down there, then don’t wax – who cares?” And I found a lot of her more personal chapters really hard to relate to, like the chapters about her first period or trying to think of a nickname for her lady parts, or staying with that crappy boyfriend. Actually now that I think about it, it makes me feel a little bad for her.

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  4. I just typed a comment and it didn’t go through, sorry if this comes through twice!

    I processed this one at the library a little while ago and was thinking about reading it. I haven’t heard of her before, but the endorsements on the book made it sound like a comedy book more than anything. It definitely sounds more serious/intense than I was thinking it would be though. Not sure if I’ll read it now, but I like how much discussion it’s generated here so I’m still thinking about it. Seems like a book to make you think.

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    1. That’s a good point Steph – if anything, it DOES make you think, even if what you eventually decide after thinking about it is disagreeing with her. And I love all the discussion! I think it’s fun, and healthy for people to talk about stuff like this. Cause MOST of the problems society has kind of arose by people not talking about it!

      I still say give it a go – if nothing else, it’s fun to chat about. I did have several conversations with the honeyman and my friend Doni about it.

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  5. “You want to know how to be a woman? Don’t give a crap what anyone else thinks and do what YOU want.”

    Great advice. This book just doesn’t sound like my thing, but that one statement does!

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  6. I could kiss you for this review, I swear.

    I did really like it, but I’ve recently read her latest book and it made me so mad I wanted to throw up. There’s an entire CHAPTER about how wonderfully feminist it is of Lady Gaga to go out in her underwear, and then the very next chapter is about how women in music videos should wear more clothes. Uhh…. what?

    I can’t stand Lady Gaga for a number of reasons but it annoys me when people glorify her as a feminist when she’s nothing like. Even so, it wouldn’t be a problem whichever way Caitlin Moran believed if she didn’t contradict herself so much.

    A friend of mine got a very long, very angry rant while I was reading this!

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    1. Always glad to hear I’m not alone on this! And seriously, Lady Gaga could not be further from a feminist role model… just… ugh.

      And I ranted to a lot of people while I read this… I’m sure everyone around me was very happy when I finished it and tried to shut up about it, lol.

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