How to Be a Woman
Kindle edition (borrowed from library)
Synopsis: 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.
(brief quote from Goodreads synopsis. Click image to go to Goodreads page)
This could be a touchy subject for some people, so I invite calm, rational discussion in the comments.
I saw a review by Julie at julie’s chick lit (I mentioned this in my last WWW post) on this book and decided I wanted to check it out. There were definitely moments when I did laugh out loud (but more toward the beginning of the book).
Anyway, I did read a couple of reviews for this on Goodreads (when I was a little more than halfway through the book), and some people really enjoyed it and others didn’t care for it at all. Some seemed kind of harsh in their comments, but we’re all entitled to our own opinions!
To be quite honest, it seemed that the concept of feminism wasn’t necessarily the main point throughout the book, even if that might have been the intention. So to me, I took this as a memoir, which happened to discuss feminism, and enjoyed it for what it was. (I will agree with one negative reviewer that it seemed Moran only mentioned Germaine Greer as her go-to feminist and references to other feminists were lacking).
There are points I agree with, such as: the negative connotation we associate with the word “feminism”, that we don’t want to “take over”, just get our share of things, and the fact that Hollywood, the press, and the gossip rags really influence people to an extreme degree. Take, for instance, the following quote:
My beautician told me she has had girls of 12 and 13 coming in for Brazilians. (page 76)
That is absolutely ridiculous!!
When talking about how negative the word feminist has become, Moran laments that there is no other word to use; we don’t have alternatives. To that end, she stresses:
We need the only word we have ever had to describe “making the world equal for men and women.” (page 79)
I wholeheartedly agree. So many people assume a feminist is a man-hater, angry with everyone and everything, dresses a certain way, acts a certain way, and most often people assume the woman (let’s face it, most people who call themselves feminists are women…so more power to the men who use this as an identifier!) is a lesbian. None of these are necessarily true of a feminist. I consider myself a feminist and don’t identify with any of the above. We need to reclaim this word for exactly what it means.
Another quote I enjoyed was:
What is feminism? Simply the belief that women should be as free as men, however nuts, dim, deluded, badly dressed, fat, receding, lazy and smug they might be.
Moran definitely hit the nail on the head in some aspects about how crazy women can act, too, with a twist of humor. (We probably find these things funny because we can either absolutely imagine it happening, have heard a friend react in a similar way, or maybe we are the ones who’ve acted this way). She talks about how some women blow things out of proportion and assume there are hidden meanings behind everything a man does. For example, she mentions a friend who went out on a couple dates with a guy and then the friend noticed the guy added a song to his “likes” on his Facebook page. Moran’s friend automatically assumed it was significant because it was a private message to her since they had talked about that very song not that long before he updated his Facebook page. (page 238).
One thing I was getting a bit frustrated with, though, was that she seemed to generalize and lump women altogether. I think it’s one thing to say “most women” or “some women” but to make it sound like she’s referring to “all women” got a little annoying.
Overall, it was enjoyable. Moran does raise some good points that I’m sure I will dwell on, or points that will sneak up on me at one time or another. (But I definitely don’t look at this as a go-to for feminist discussion)
A random feminist moment of my own: I would always get frustrated in English class in high school when the (female) teacher would say she needed two of the boys to get the boxes of the next book we’d be reading in class. I always wanted to ask why the teacher was asking for the boys when girls can carry boxes too!
One thing I think is really great is the rise of women in the workplace. In my department, for example, of the 5 directors 3 are women. That’s great! One is the director of a group consisting entirely of women, a second has almost all women within her group, and the third female director’s direct reports below are split pretty evenly between men and women. It’s really inspiring to see such strong women in the workplace and I look to them as role models.
So I guess that’s my bit on this. I’ve been thinking about what to write for this review since I started reading the book. I kind of wish I had written some things down, because I feel it’s not as polished as I wanted it to be. But I also didn’t want it to sound like an essay! (I highlighted a few passages on the Kindle so I would remember to quote them here, but other than that I didn’t really utilize the “make a note” feature on the Kindle either). So, sorry if this seems half-assed, not fully thought out, etc. And I think this is long enough now…(Also, the Bruins are in overtime, so I’m kind of distracted…man listen to that crowd!…and now they’re going into overtime!!)