Review: What I’m Reading: How To Be A Woman By Caitlin Moran

As usual, I’m about a year too late. Although this book was published about a year ago being rather poverty stricken and normally having a pile of unread books waiting patiently on my bedside table I tend to avoid the recent bestsellers list. As what I like to read is normally written by someone long dead and almost out of copyright or what I can swipe for free whilst doing work experience this does not normally prove to be an issue.

Although my New Year’s Resolution was to read more non-fiction rather than continuing to work my way through the Penguin Classics collection as I had been doing the past few years; partly out of reaction to constantly being buried in Virginia Woolf and E.M.Forster by my dissertation and mental scarring from spending my first year of university painfully trudging through Anna Karenina.*

So I had to wait for this until my father bought it as a present for my mother for Christmas and she’d got through all the murder mysteries she’d taken out of the library that week (along with the occasional historical romance because she fears the librarians at Bilton library will begin to suspect she’s plotting to murder her entire family) whilst I went back to university to alternatively sit in the library reading books for my dissertation/write my dissertation/cry over my dissertation.

Therefore when I came home three days ago and found it waiting patiently on my bedside table I jumped on it almost instantly.

One of the first things I used to judge a book is how long it takes me to read it. Although I’m a quick reader if it takes me a day or less its probably a trashy novel that does not need the distinction of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ because that’s not why I read it. Generally mindless escapism needs no such qualifications. Having said that it is normally still not worth my ¬£8 because I failed to get much long term enjoyment out of it. The last book I read ‘worth it’ in this sense was probably the final Harry Potter when I was sixteen which was devoured in about 6-8 hours after I got home from work (a personal best).

On the flip side if it takes me a year then its probably an equally unworthy book. Anna Karenina took from August 2009 to July 2010 including the three months I lost down the side of the bed where I think my subconscious put in a desperate cry of ‘No!No! Please! No more long winded passages about farming!’ Of course as I’m the weird, slightly OCDish kind of person that has to complete every single book they start I was compel to reach the torturous end.

With How To Be A Woman my compulsion to read it came from enjoyment rather than eccentricity. This is the sort of polemical book that I love to read where you make yourself look like a lunatic for suddenly convulsing as your suppress the urge to shout ‘that’s what I think!’ loudly in a public place. She writes about the bonkers nature of modern society and its expectations of women and feminism through her own, often haphazard, attempts to fulfil the paradigm of a size zero, culturally lobotomised ‘yummy mummy’ that still has time for pilates in between raising her future Oxbridge candidate child and running her FTSE 100 company.

She proudly stands and waves the feminist flag (sometimes on a chair) and states if you’re a modern women that doesn’t call yourself a feminist then there is something wrong with you. Going through modern feminist issues one by one she rallies against anyone who doesn’t let women just do what they like, to whoever they like, think what they like and say what they like.

She provides reassurance that am not the only person to believe that the consensus that ‘all women love shopping’ is nothing more than a conspiracy cooked up by the makers of Sex and the City to lure us into buying shit we don’t need, that falls apart in three weeks so we have to buy more and most importantly makes us feel fat so we don’t start getting any ideas about standing up for ourselves or behaving like men.

As someone whose never been very good at being a lady and now spends 70-80% of her time with boys because most girls scare her I can feel sympathy with Moran’s exhaustion and exasperation at having to behave the way women are supposed to.

Her central hypothesis is that we should stop trying to act like proper ‘women’ and start acting like ‘people’ is pretty much along the same lines as what I say when I write about feminism. Except she does it better. And she’s funnier. Whereas she can engage millions with her examples of inequality being found in a woman’s knickers I bang on about the ritualisation of turning girls into boys in Afghanistan.

Although its refreshing to see someone as clearly ‘adorably crazy’ as myself become as successful so fast its still a little depressing that she did it so young. It makes me think that when I was lonely at fifteen I should have been doing something more productive than sulking and listening to the Ramones in my bedroom.

*I will review this at some point, my thoughts on this do need to be shared.

This entry was published on April 1, 2012 at 7:09 pm. It’s filed under Reviews, What I'm Reading and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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