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How to Be a Woman Paperback – July 17, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


“There are lots of things to love about Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman….A glorious, timely stand against sexism so ingrained we barely even notice it. It is, in the dour language [Moran] militates so brilliantly against, a book that needed to be written.” (New York Times)

“The UK’s answer to Tina Fey, Chelsea Handler, and Lena Dunham all rolled into one.” (Marie Claire)

“Moran’s frank wit is appealing.” (The New Yorker)

“It is bracing in this season of losing [Nora] Ephron to discover a younger feminist writer who scrimmages with the patriarchy and drop kicks zingers with comic flair….A must-read for anyone curious to find out just how very funny a self-proclaimed ‘strident feminist’ can be.” (Maureen Corrigan, NPR's Fresh Air)

“A fresh, funny take on modern feminism that shines a light on issues facing every woman, lovingly boiled down to the basics with insight and humor.” (Today Show)

“Scathingly funny….Moran makes us think about femininity and feminism, and whether you agree or not, she’s fascinating.” (People (3 ½ stars))

“A hilarious neo-feminist manifesto….Moran reinvigorates women’s lib with her personal and political polemic.” (

“Caitlin Moran taught me more about being a woman than being a woman did. I’m pretty sure I had testicles before I read this book.” (Jenny Lawson, author of Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir)

“There is a good reason for [its success]: it is pretty phenomenal….[Moran] wrote the book in just 5 months….Chances are you’ll read it in far less time than that, turning down the corners of extra-resonating pages to come back to later.” (Jenn Doll, The Atlantic Wire)

“With her drunk-on-gin-with-my-lady-friends honesty and humor, Moran, a Times of London columnist, snips the man out of manifesto, spinning her message of radically sensible female empowerment.” (Vanity

“Bravely and brilliantly weaves personal anecdotes and cutting insight into a book that is at once instructional, confessional, and a call for change….Moran shifts effortlessly between her own hilarious experiences and larger questions about women’s place in the modern world.” (Interview Magazine)

“As funny and careerist as Tina Fey’s Bossypants, as divulging as Ayelet Waldman’s Bad Mother and as earthy as Cheryl Strayed’s Wild.” (Holloway McCandless, Shelf Awareness)

“Ingeniously funny….In her brilliant, original voice, Moran successfully entertains and enlightens her audience with hard-won wisdom and wit….She doesn’t politicize feminism; she humanizes it.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

“Caitlin Moran is so fabulous, so funny, so freshly feminist. I don’t want to be like her—I want to be her. But if I can’t, at least I can relish her book. You will, too.” (Peggy Orenstein, author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter)

“Her arguments are hilarious and spot on….This isn’t a self-help guide, and Moran’s not really telling you how to be a woman. Instead, she’s giving you permission to laugh: at ourselves, at her, and at anyone who think there’s only one way to be a woman.” (Shannon Carlin, Bust Magazine)

“How funny is Caitlin Moran’s neo-feminist manifesto and memoir, How to Be a Woman? Don’t read it with a full bladder….You could spend a whole book group session flagging favorite lines…..There’s some comfort in Moran’s book coming out so soon after Nora Ephron’s death.” (Heller McAlpin, Barnes & Noble Review)

“A spirited memoir/manifesto….With equal amounts snarky brio and righteous anger….That such an important topic is couched in ribald humor makes reading about Moran’s journey hilarious as well as provocative….Rapturously irreverent, this book should kick-start plenty of useful discussions.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

“Caitlin Moran is a feminist heroine for our times. I can’t wait to give this book to my daughters.” (Zoë Heller, author of The Believers)

“Caitlin Moran is the profane, witty and wonky best friend I wish I had. She’s the feminist rock star we need right now; How to Be a Woman is an hilarious delight.” (Ayelet Waldman, author of Bad Mother)

From the Back Cover

Though they have the vote and the Pill and haven't been burned as witches since 1727, life isn't exactly a stroll down the catwalk for modern women. They are beset by uncertainties and questions: Why are they supposed to get Brazilians? Why do bras hurt? Why the incessant talk about babies? And do men secretly hate them?

Caitlin Moran interweaves provocative observations on women's lives with laugh-out-loud funny scenes from her own, from the riot of adolescence to her development as a writer, wife, and mother. With rapier wit, Moran slices right to the truth—whether it's about the workplace, strip clubs, love, fat, abortion, popular entertainment, or children—to jump-start a new conversation about feminism. With humor, insight, and verve, How To Be a Woman lays bare the reasons why female rights and empowerment are essential issues not only for women today but also for society itself.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Original edition (July 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062124293
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062124296
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (627 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,897 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Caitlin Moran had literally no friends in 1990, and so had plenty of time to write her first novel, The Chronicles of Narmo, at the age of fifteen. At sixteen she joined music weekly, Melody Maker, and at eighteen hosted the pop show Naked City. Following this precocious start she then put in eighteen solid years as a columnist on the Times--both as a television critic and also in the most-read part of the paper, the satirical celebrity column "Celebrity Watch"--winning the British Press Awards' Columnist of The Year award in 2010 and Critic and Interviewer of the Year in 2011. The eldest of eight children, Caitlin read lots of books about feminism--mainly in an attempt to be able to prove to her brother, Eddie, that she was scientifically better than him. Caitlin isn't really her name. She was christened 'Catherine.' But she saw 'Caitlin' in a Jilly Cooper novel when she was thirteen and thought it looked exciting. That's why she pronounces it incorrectly: 'Catlin.' It causes trouble for everyone.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

138 of 153 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on March 31, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I read this book and laughed a lot while doing so.

Then I had to face the acid test. I handed it to my wife - the professional nay-sayer, the woman who thinks that puns are not funny - and told her to open it at random and start reading. I expected to have it back within seconds with a dismissive remark, but instead she started reading it, chuckling occasionally, and when she turned the page she put her fingers under the next page, the quicker to read it. I asked her what the chuckles were for, but she didn't answer and kept on reading. Then she laughed so hard she nearly fell off the chair. She looked at me and said, "She's good."

I said "I've finished it, you can read it," but she insisted that I write my review first. That makes sense, considering that she has a bunch of friends that she passes on books to that she thinks are important (books, that is). So here it is.

And the only thing I can say I said in the review title - Buy it. It's the funniest book I've read this year, and probably the last year as well. Billed as a "feminist" book, by American standards it is not academic enough and way too funny, yet it addresses some of the major issues woman have like what to name your sexual parts, your pubic hair and so on. There's also a great deal of stuff on how women are sucked up into the vortex of buying clothes and high heels, having Brazilian waxes, and plenty more. The book is a vague memoir of life since she was thirteen, living in close-to-poverty, yet she managed to win a national newspaper essay competition and get on the staff of the prestigious Melody Maker Brit-pop rag in just the next three years. She also started her career as a national newspaper columnist (most of which was spent in the London Times) and hosted some TV shows.
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151 of 175 people found the following review helpful By Wilhelmina Zeitgeist VINE VOICE on May 17, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"How to Be a Woman" by Caitlin Moran had its ups and downs for me. It started out as a winner in my mind but seemed to get stuck on certain topics for much to long. Other topics didn't really hold much of an interest for me either.

Now, to be fair, I think I'm older than the target audience. While reading it I often thought of how I would have enjoyed the book more when I was younger. Some of the issues that must be very pressing to young women today just made me shake my head as I began to reminisce about the good old days when shaving our legs and arm pits was good enough for the men in our lives. No wonder so many younger women aren't happier. They are spending all of their free time worrying about body hair and all of their free time getting rid of it.

Marriage, kids, work, inter-office romance....I've seen it all. A case of the middle aged been there done that. But, it's all new to the younger women. They need to know these things and need to think about them.

I do like Caitlin's definition of what it takes to decide if you are a feminist or not. It made a lot of sense and was so much easier to understand than the speeches we had to listen to and Phil Donahue Shows we had to watch in the 70's. Back when we were first trying to figure out what a feminist was, could we be one, and if we were could we still keep our boyfriends. The younger women will love this book. The post menopausal space age boomers probably won't.
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65 of 73 people found the following review helpful By dSavannah George-Jones VINE VOICE on July 2, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I AM A STRIDENT FEMINIST! There, I said it, as the author instructed. But it's true, and I have been, for as long as I can remember knowing what that even meant. And I have to say, this is the first "feminist book" that actually made me feel hopeful and happy and glad to be a woman. Others (such as "Crazy Salad Plus Nine" by the wonderful Nora Ephron) just made me angry - because so little has changed for women. We're still - 30+ years after she wrote it - marginalized and "different".

"How to Be a Woman" explains this 'difference' in a no-nonsense and hilarious way. For example, in the chapter titled "I Encounter Some Sexism!", the author says, "We are, physically, the weaker sex. We're not as good at hefting stones, killing mammoths, and rowing boats. In addition, sex often had the added complication of getting us pregnant and leaving us feeling 'too fat' to lead an army into India."

The author honestly and unflinchingly looks at many topics that plaque women:
~what happens when puberty hits (the periods! the hair growth!)
~the 'thin' vs 'fat' issue (and how the term "fat" is used as a curse and a slur)
~sexism (in the workplace and out)
~falling in love, getting married, and having kids (why you should, and why you shouldn't)
~the "maintenance" we have to do on ourselves (waxes, etc.)
~and getting older

And it's all presented in an uplifting, positive, honest, and hilarious way. I did NOT want this book to end. And I want to give copies to everyone important in my life.

A few notes - as other reviewers have stated, there is all kinds of crude language as well as mentions of drug and alcohol use, none of which bothered me personally, but... this is, obviously, not for everyone...
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94 of 115 people found the following review helpful By Shafiq Taliba on March 10, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I'm moving past the language and sexual topics because there are plenty enough reviews of that and honestly, though neither would make a book enjoyable to me, there's a bigger issue here.
Moran professes to have a specific feminist outlook necessary to be an empowered woman in modern Western society--the book's title points to its content as basically the "right" way to be a woman.
But Moran doesn't actually write about women. She barely moves past writing about herself. This book is "how to be a woman" if you're a white, middle-or-upper-class, cis, able-bodied, educated, young, atheist woman. For the rest of us, all this book--& the self-congratulatory media response--does is further marginalize us. For my trans* friends, sorry, you can't be women, according to Moran (Moran states that all women should have specific physical characteristics). For a Muslima like myself? Sorry, but Moran's writing centers the same religion-equals-oppression argument that we get from Maher or Dawkins--misogynist at its core by assuming women aren't capable of making informed choices about faith. On the fence about abortion, or pro-life? Mourning after an abortion, or choosing not to have one? Again, not the "right" way to be a woman.

I get that this is first and foremost autobiographical. But Moran wants this book to be applicable to women as an entire group, and so a fair critique must look at this text as it pertains to people other than the author. Truth is, it doesn't work. There are countless more examples to be found where Moran either marginalizes already othered voices and experiences or, what's worse, ignores their existence entirely.
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