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How is it possible that I’ve only just discovered Caitlin Moran? I feel like a whole new world of woman has opened up to me after reading her memoir, How To Be a Woman. I’ve dabbled in feminist literature before – The Forbidden Body by Shelley Bovey was an eye-opener when I read it in my early 20s, and The Vagenda equally so – and so adding another book to my repertoire was long overdue.
How To Be a Woman is a mash of genres – part memoir, part feminist rant. I loved Moran’s views on current inequalities, and it was refreshing to see someone who shared many of my own opinions. She also brought up topics that I hadn’t really thought too much about before. The sections on being a parent and abortion were some of the best in the book – she really touched me with some of the experiences she’d had, and I feel like I’ve been educated on some things I’d never considered before. She is refreshingly honest about what has happened in her life, which makes this an important read for any young woman. I was constantly sending quotes from the book to my friends, with her ideas forming excellent points for discussion.
When a woman says, ‘I have nothing to wear today!’, what she really means is, ‘There’s nothing here for who I’m supposed to be today.’
This isn’t to say the book was without flaw. While some chapters had my feminist blood raging in agreement, my interest did wane around the halfway mark, which is why it took me a couple of months to finish. I think this is for a number of reasons: firstly, Moran is excited by an era that I am just not engaged by (I don’t know or care for most of the people and music she loves, though this is just a conflict of personal taste), and secondly, I just don’t find her stories of alcohol and drugs very interesting. Though we share a common goal of female equality, the fact is that I just didn’t find her stories all that extraordinary or engaging – perhaps it is an imbalance between the elements of memoir and feminist thought. Personally, I was hoping for a little more of the latter.
There’s also a lot of unnecessary CAPITALISATION OF SENTENCES FOR EMPHASIS, and my major pet peeve of way too many exclamation marks in succession:
All her talk of Lady Gaga, drag queens and over-priced weddings make this book a fascinating and often hilarious read, but some of her jokes just don’t hit the mark, and I know it wouldn’t be to everyone’s tastes. What I would probably recommend in its stead is the audiobook, which Moran narrates herself – this is how I first started my reading journey, before switching to the book when my library loan ended. She delivers the text in the way it was certainly intended, and her reading better encapsulates the “chattiness” of her book, without the seeming randomness of thought sometimes found when experiencing it as a lone reader.
However you experience the book though, it will no doubt stir the feminist inside, and make you hungry for equality. Or in my case, make me realise I’m not alone in thinking that weddings are a waste of money… there’s something for everyone!
Star Rating: ☆☆☆☆ (4/5)