“How to be a Woman” – Caitlin Moran

I immediately thought, “Finally, an owner’s manual!”


Instead, Moran voices her vindication for women to be women, and for women to be human. Womanhood isn’t defined by the number of pairs of unworn Jimmy Choos under your bed, how small your underwear is, or how expensive your handbag is. Instead, Moran offers that womanhood, indeed personhood, is defined by how accepting we are of ourselves. She also offers that feminism isn’t a synonym for man-hater; it’s an acknowledgement that everyone who has a vagina is a human being and should be treated as such. It’s only polite, after all.

I laughed out loud. Repeatedly. Admittedly, I love British humour. Moran’s book is steeped in it. But, like British humour, this book isn’t for the faint of heart. Moran pointedly makes clear her views on controversial topics such as abortion, pornography, child-rearing, and hair removal. For those with an open mind, she makes strong, pragmatic arguments.

Overall, I found the book refreshing and am happy to say that there is finally a book on the New York Times Bestseller list that is worth its purchase price. I also found it refreshing that I can still be considered a woman if:

1) I think spending $50,000 on one day, to buy one dress, one big cake, and feed and entertain 150 people is really silly;

2) I believe high heels are mechanisms of torture;

3) I choose to define life by criteria other than child-bearing;

4) I haven’t named my breasts (or any other body part);

5) I haven’t purchase a handbag that costs more than $40.

While I am not searching for validation, Moran points out that perhaps women still are, several decades after winning the vote. And this is why feminism, under the revised, aforementioned definition, is still very much in need. If women weren’t searching for validation — validation that they are valued as human beings — they wouldn’t feel the need to look like pornography stars, settle for unhealthy relationships, and be rail-thin with stretched faces. The great equalizer, by Moran’s standards, is that if men don’t do it and if it isn’t considered polite, then the behaviour is probably some form of female validation.

I believe Moran’s view on relationships pretty much sums up her take on feminism and equality: women just want to hang out with someone with whom they can talk, watch TV, eat crisps, but who will also crawl across the floor at some point saying, “If I can’t have sex with you immediately, I’ll explode.”

One thought on ““How to be a Woman” – Caitlin Moran

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  1. I am in love with this book. Her rants are phenomenal, and spot-on. Why pornography is such a let down for women. Origins of the torture that is Brazilians. Bad bras. Insidious neo-sexism that is so hard to spot, let alone comment on. I was just reading the bit where she creates such a intricate and complex fantasy (including a failed get-a-way to Paris) with a guy after only meeting him once or twice (and exchanging all of 10 words). And suddenly, I felt normal and so much better, because I do this ALL THE TIME! Moran is my new hero. Do not drink and read this book, or liquid will come out your nose.


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