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How to Be a Woman Paperback – July 17, 2012
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“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))
“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 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)
“A hilarious neo-feminist manifesto….Moran reinvigorates women’s lib with her personal and political polemic.” (NPR.org)
“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 Fair.com)
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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I’m a feminist, a strident feminist and a male. I have been for a long time. In 1965 I fought against women’s hours, which required college women to be in their dorms by 11:00 p.m. at Indiana University, while men were allowed to roam free all night. I’ve been married to a strident feminist since 1967, and recommend that path to anyone. So I’m reasonably well versed in feminist culture over the years.
How to Be a Woman, by Caitlin Moran, is, hands down, the best source on feminism I’ve ever encountered. It surely helps that it is hilarious. It also helps that at least half the barbs are directed at herself, and most of the rest at other women. (Actually, she lets men off pretty easy.) She is shockingly frank about all sorts of socially unacceptable conduct in which she has engaged, such as binge drinking, drug use and promiscuity. But shining through is a deep understanding of things that women routinely experience from puberty through early middle age, and how to live and grow through them. Again and again she raises up values I value.
To make it appropriate to all genders, I would restate her best known quote as: Feminism is believing that if you have a vagina you should be in charge of it.
Her championing of guilt-free abortion is radical, finding it just as appropriate as deciding to bear a child. "By whatever rationale you use, ending a pregnancy 12 weeks into gestation is incalculably more moral than bringing an unwanted child into this world." She quotes a like minded friend: “It’s one of the top four best things I ever did—after marrying my husband, having my son, and getting a fixed quote on the loft conversion.”
The trauma of her first pubic hairs resonates, I assure my female friends, quite fully with me as a male.
I’m not sure quite how old young people should be before reading this book. It does unabashedly relate experiences that will make parents (and grandparents, teachers, etc.) cringe. But I’m not sure that it makes those experiences attractive, and much of what I know of those from 15 to 25 makes me think their culture normalizes such tales so universally that this book only puts them in a real world context that is OK with me. Such stories will be surely old hat to the bulk of college sophomores, and probably to many a high schooler, and too many in middle school.
I’m not sure quite how liberated adults should be before reading this book. I surely have friends who will be shocked that I would recommend such trash. But I do. One person’s trash is another’s treasure. This book is a rare treasure.
To be frank, "How To Be a Woman" is just too strident for me... it reads as more of a soapbox rant. Particularly when Ms. Moran writes about feminism. I definitely identify with being a feminist, but I feel like she takes it a bit too far-- to the point where it's almost an antiquated view of the ideal. Then she extends the rant to not wanting to wear high heels or spend money on high-end handbags... and how any "lingerie" other than basic old school granny panties is ridiculous, painful, and unnecessary... which she brings full circle to go so far as to say that certain types of underwear are anti-feminist.
In summary, while I do - as ever - love Ms. Moran's gift for language and metaphor, the TONE of the novel is what prompted my 3-star review. The preaching was just too much for me.
Moran is definitely right that feminism is too important to be discussed only by academics. I think it’s great that female and male celebrities are proud to use the word to describe themselves. Celebrity means a lot in this culture, and if they can help take the stigma away from this word, I say, “Yippee!”
Much of what Moran talks about is the language we use, particularly in regards to women. Because she is British and uses a lot of slang, not all her discussions on language meant a lot to me. I’ve been to England twice and read a lot of British authors, but slang changes quickly, and even here in America I often need someone (Google) to translate Millennials’ English to my Gen-X English.
Many of her thoughts on feminism are similar to mine: “So you don’t want to be owned by your husband? You’re welcome, that was us.” And so on . . .
This is not a fast read, however. It’s at times disjointed, feeling like stream of consciousness thoughts that don’t always seem to logically follow one point to the next. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t like some books that I simply can’t wait to get back to.
One thing I do like about the book is how Caitlin shows herself, and not always in the best light, and her road to be a woman, and that she still has no Idea how it is to be a woman or what it mean but that it is something we all have to work one. The book is real and hopeful.
Really enjoy reading it and I want to read Caitlin Morans other books.