When I picked up this book, the cover and blurb excited me. “Part memoir, part rant”, it stated tantalizingly – I could not wait to get started. Caitlin Moran is known to be side-splittingly funny and this read did not disappoint. Filled with observational humour, “How to be a Woman” is one lady’s journey through adolescence to womanhood. I laughed, I air-punched, I cried, I reflected – this book helps you to look back on your own path and see how far you’ve come.
Feminism. The F word that unfortunately not enough people are talking about. Is this book a feminist manifesto? No. Nor is it a gender equality study. It is simply the experiences and opinions of one woman on how to navigate the world as a female – a comedic opinion piece. Personal opinions are not universal truths. Is it hilarious? Absolutely. Is it relatable? For some (including me), yes.
However, the book is narrow-minded in some senses – it is white feminism. It is not particularly inclusive of different walks of life. It occasionally uses problematic language and makes sweeping generalisations . It comes from a place of privilege. I do not agree with everything Moran says in the book, yet her perspectives make me think more about my own.
One paragraph that really resonated with myself and took me back to my teenage years, was this:
But the problem with battling yourself is that even if you win, you lose. As some point – scarred, and exhausted – you either accept that you become a woman – that you are a woman – or you die. This is the brutal root truth of adolescence – that it is often a long, painful campaign of attrition. Those self-harming girls, with the latticework of razor-cuts on their arms and thighs, are just reminding themselves that their body is a battlefield. If you don’t have the stomach for razors, a tattoo will do; or even just the lightning snap of the earring gun in Claire’s Accessories. There. There you are. You have dropped a marker-pin on your body, to reclaim yourself, to remind you where you are: inside yourself. Somewhere. Somewhere in there.How to be a Woman – Caitlin Moran
All in all, I finished this book feeling sore from laughing so hard, but so thoroughly inspired. I felt like I could put on my big knickers and conquer the world. In my opinion, any book that can leave a woman feeling that powerful, is infinitely worth the read.