review: ‘How to Be a Woman’ by Caitlin Moran

4 stars

Read and reviewed this back in 2016 but there is a severe lack of non-fiction on this blog, and you might wanna read my opinions on this so here we go!:

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Ehhhh. 3.5? I don’t really know what to rate this. This book definitely has its issues for me, but the rating is purely for my overall enjoyment factor of this as a humorous, well written, piece of non-fiction. I like Caitlin Moran, and I like her writing. She’s funny, intelligent, and has a very clever way of weaving anecdotes together into a very readable memoir.

There’s no getting away from the fact that this is a very westernised, and in many ways privileged, look at feminism. And I doubt it would have bothered me as much if she had acknowledged that at some point, but she doesn’t. Throughout, there are a few comparisons she makes, such as some comments on feminism and racial equality, and childbirth giving women ‘a gigantic set of balls’, and there are several instances where slurs are used, and these just did not sit right with me. I don’t believe any of these come from a bad place, but that’s kind of beside the point.

She has strong, well formed and wittily explored opinions, but I find I do not always agree with her. That’s not to say I didn’t sometimes find myself nodding along whilst reading some parts and finding myself in total agreement. There were some genuine ‘lol’ moments, and I think she would be a hoot to have a conversation with.

I love that no topic is off limits for her – periods, sex, abortion, the porn industry – she would tackle any taboo. I particularly enjoyed reading the parts where she discusses being a mother. ‘I used to fear their deaths… Until I realised… I would put my hands into their ribs and take their hearts and swallow them, and give birth to them again, so that they never, ever end. I’ll do anything for those girls.’ Now I understand this is a fairly graphic, and particularly visceral way of declaring your love for your children, but I really believed it, and felt it, despite not being a mother myself. In the penultimate chapter, Caitlin talks candidly and rawly about abortion. I think it’s a very brave chapter, and probably the most necessary one in this book.

Actually, I feel that the main reason that I felt a little disconnect at times, was that aside from the basic similarities of Caitlin and I both being white women, born in England, and both considering ourselves feminist, I don’t really have much at all in common with her. Which is ok, she’s speaking from a far more experienced place than I am currently at in my life. And I’m almost certain that if I read this again in 10 years, I would be able to genuinely empathise with her, and take a lot more from it.

Caitlin Moran is definitely a woman I admire. And whilst I may not agree with every one of her opinions, I respect them. I enjoy watching her talk in videos I’ve seen online, I think she has a lot of important things to say, and I’m very happy she has a platform to say them. All in all, I’m glad I’ve read this, and I’ll definitely be reading more from her in the future!

sign off heartJess

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