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!