‘How to Be a Woman’ by Caitlin Moran

So seldom I laugh out loud at books.

It just never happens. I have this sort of internal laugh, where my neurons bend over in hysterical laughter, while all my face shows is a slight curving of the corner of my mouth. And that, quickly hidden away as well.

But don’t worry, I have been actively working on it and April’s book for Our Shared Shelf has helped greatly.

The book was ‘How to Be a Woman’, by Caitlin Moran, a simil-memoir where she uses her own life-experience to talk about the struggles of teenage life, all the way up to becoming a woman – or at least what a woman is supposed to be – but what is she supposed to be?

I am calling it a simil-memoir (which is something I completely made up as a category), because every chapter only starts with a recounting of Caitlin’s life. Halfway through, the focus shifts from the little universe of her tiny (pass me the term here) life to the bigger picture of the entire country (UK, where she lives and works).

That is to say: you think it’s the struggle of one child and after all it’s only an isolated episode? Well no, it’s actually happening everywhere.

The F word here is Feminism, the much dreaded label that even women dodge away from. And to those women Caitlin speaks directly:

“We need to reclaim the word ‘feminism’. We need the word ‘feminism’ back real bad. When statistics come in saying that only 29% of American women would describe themselves as feminist – and only 42% of British women – I used to think, What do you think feminism IS, ladies? What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? ‘Vogue’ by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that good shit GET ON YOUR NERVES? Or were you just DRUNK AT THE TIME OF THE SURVEY?”

Caitlin Moran – How to be a woman

There are few non-fiction books I enjoyed as much as this.

However, it is to be said that Caitlin Moran certainly has made up her mind a long while ago and is not there to put it to the question. Her voice is strong and hard as an avalanche and her opinions are likely to bring some indigestion to those who are not quite on the same line.

Me, I am very much looking forwards to see her at the Hay Festival at the end of May. Hopefully I’ll manage to read her new book ‘Moranifesto’ by then.

Caitlin Moran is a columnist for The Times, where you can find her every week.

She also has a website, here.

You can learn more about ‘How to Be a Woman’ by going on the Goodreads page.


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