Tuesday, 11 February 2014

How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran

Caitlin Moran's How To Be A Woman caught my eye a few years ago as the front cover and title stood out. I had no idea who she was yet the Gothic font, ballsy title and hair like a badger drew me in. I bought it for my wife (secretly me) for Christmas. Since then it's sat unread by me and Caitlin Moran's profile has soared stratospherically. I thought it was about time I picked it up.
Part biography and part opinion piece, Moran is by trade a journalist with a long standing column, writing for the Times. Her childhood is not what I would call normal, as from the start we're thrown head first into her world of several siblings sprawling in the tiny house in Wolverhampton she grew up in. She writes with warmth and humour and never strays into self-deprecation, in fact quite the opposite, the fact she's brought up in a large family and with no friends at all is the catalyst for many warm reminiscences. Chapter titles hit you hard with exclamation marks on each one, with no ambiguity at all, such as 'I Am Fat!' and 'I Need A Bra!' which she then recounts her experience of. She continues to extend on these topics, dissecting questions that she's happened upon due to being female. The struggle and differences between the two sexes are at the heart of the book with her ideals of feminism the leading focus. 'Are you a feminist?' she asks. Many think it's a dirty word, but Moran and I have the same opinion in that if you think woman and men should be treated equal then yes, you are a feminist. Moran's life itself is quite a ride taking in her first job in journalism at the excellent (now defunct) music magazine Melody Maker and her time presenting a late night music show on channel 4 called Naked City.
I am a man, not a woman. Am I then allowed to read and enjoy it? According to some forum posts apparently not, and this is where the 'feminism' 'debate rears it's head in a demeaning manor. Feminism is, as written above, a means to make men and woman equal, not getting women to overthrow men, and it's a point Moran makes well.
I did enjoy this book a lot. Often she uses metaphors to add humour and it works but sometimes she uses just one too many to say the same thing, albeit they are enjoyable. I've read Moran in her column several times and also seen and heard a few interviews (one from Hay Festival was excellent) and she talks how she writes; frantic! 7 cushions on the comfometer.


PS. I've just noticed she's on tour in the summer and I may well go and see her. 

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