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How to Be a Woman

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Caitlin Moran puts a new face on feminism, cutting to the heart of women’s issues today with her irreverent, transcendent, and hilarious How to Be a Woman. “Half memoir, half polemic, and entirely necessary,” (Elle UK), Moran’s debut was an instant runaway bestseller in England as well as an Amazon UK Top Ten book of the year; still riding high on bestseller lists months after publication, it is a bona fide cultural phenomenon. Now poised to take American womanhood by storm, here is a book that Vanity Fair calls “the U.K. version of Tina Fey’s Bossypants….You will laugh out loud, wince, and—in my case—feel proud to be the same gender as the author.”

312 pages, Paperback

First published June 16, 2011

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About the author

Caitlin Moran

25 books3,781 followers
Caitlin Moran had literally no friends in 1990, and so had plenty of time to write her first novel, The Chronicles of Narmo, at the age of fifteen. At sixteen she joined music weekly, Melody Maker, and at eighteen briefly presented the pop show 'Naked City' on Channel 4. Following this precocious start she then put in eighteen solid years as a columnist on The Times – both as a TV critic and also in the most-read part of the paper, the satirical celebrity column 'Celebrity Watch' – winning the British Press Awards' Columnist of The Year award in 2010 and Critic and Interviewer of the Year in 2011. The eldest of eight children, home-educated in a council house in Wolverhampton, Caitlin read lots of books about feminism – mainly in an attempt to be able to prove to her brother, Eddie, that she was scientifically better than him. Caitlin isn't really her name. She was christened 'Catherine'. But she saw 'Caitlin' in a Jilly Cooper novel when she was 13 and thought it looked exciting. That's why she pronounces it incorrectly: 'Catlin'. It causes trouble for everyone.

(from http://www.caitlinmoran.co.uk/index.p...)

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Profile Image for Ceilidh.
233 reviews577 followers
June 11, 2012
I think it's pretty safe to say that this book wasn't written for me.

Caitlin Moran's columns have always been a bit hit or miss for me but when she's on, she's a witty storyteller with some interesting points to make. She's no groundbreaking pantheon of feminist wisdom, but she's definitely a valuable, and often hilarious, ally. Her book was something I approached with hesitation since several published extracts had left me scratching my head, but with her upcoming scheduled appearance at the Edinburgh Book Festival and my hopes of getting press tickets to said event, I decided to do my research and see what was happening in her ambitiously titled book, already creating big buzz in the press as a new 'fun' type of feminism.

Let's start with the positives. Moran's storytelling, while verging closely into column territory with its style, is witty, often heartwarming and very funny, especially when discussing her quirky family and upbringing. As a child, Moran couldn't stand the idea of being pitied, even in her own diary, so would be ridiculously happy when discussing the most mundane of things. Each chapter opens with an account from Moran's life, how it moulded her feminist opinions, then moves into a rambling, colloquial chat about issues Moran considers pressing for the feminist movement, although your mileage may vary on this front. Some parts, such as her discussion on abortion which includes her own experiences, are powerful and get to the true heart of the matter. I truly appreciated this chapter and Moran for spelling out what should be obvious to all - there is nothing wrong with choosing to have an abortion and sometimes it's the easiest decision a woman can make.

However, most of the book just doesn't pack the same punch as this segment. I'm 21 and I've only really been seriously discussing my feminism for about 3 or 4 years. It's something I pride myself on in many ways and I love to read feminist literature, partake in debates and educate myself as much as I can on issues that are most pressing to the world's women. I've yet to meet a woman who thinks that coming up with a name for one's vagina is a pressing feminist issue. I understand that the tone of the book is chatty, jokey and often the opposite of serious, but such a topic felt out of place. Other topics that Moran discusses - pole dancing, weight, clothes, stilettos, casual misogyny - reveal no new observations or anything of true substance. The book tries to be both a memoir of sorts and a tome for the 21st century feminist but feels too general and rushed to truly be either.

Moran frequently makes sweeping generalisations about men and women in order to make a point, which makes said points feel rather disingenuous. The colloquial style will definitely divide readers and I personally felt that the overuse of capslock, exclamation points and netspeak such as ENDOV and roflment were more of a distraction than anything else, something that's better suited to columns and tweets. Some points also left me asking questions - why is Lady Gaga a feminist symbol who controls her sexuality whilst doing near naked photo-shoots but the myriad of women who did it before her aren't? (It's worth noting, as Moran takes pride in doing, that Moran interviewed Gaga and said interview brought her much attention and acclaim.) Why do you think burlesque dancing is okay but pole dancing isn't? - and other parts coming close to fuming with anger - history has not proven men to be stronger with more achievements than women. Countless women were wiped from history because history is written by the victors! Nobody, female or otherwise, should be able to flirt their way to the top, that's disingenuous and further objectification/casual misogyny! Also, La Roux is a band, not a singer, and said singer, Elly Jackson, is not a lesbian like you said she was. A quick google would show that to you.

Lastly, there was one thing that really bugged me, and it was these lines:

(On her childhood cheery disposition: "I have all the joyful ebullience of a retard." [Page 5.]

(On burlesque dancing): "... it has a campy, tranny, fetish element to it." [Page 175.]

These aren't the only casually distasteful and problematic jokes Moran makes but these two stood out in my mind as particularly offensive. Since Moran takes a lot of time to discuss the harmful nature of the word 'fat', one would think she'd understand the damaging power of the R word and such ableist/transphobic language.

Overall, I'm sure there are many women who will love this book and I'm glad for them. While I vehemently disagree with Moran's assertion that feminism has ground to a halt (grassroots feminism has continued to make leaps and bounds behind the scenes), it is true that many modern women are cautious to label themselves as feminist when in reality it should be worn with a badge of pride. There's a lot to enjoy in Moran's book and some very funny moments but overall, it felt like a failed experiment to me, one that failed to scratch beyond the surface of modern day feminism in a way that would truly bring about the discussions we need. I'd heartily recommend Kat Banyard's "The Equality Illusion" for the starter feminist in need of guidance. Feminism doesn't need to be rock and roll, it's much better than that.

EDIT: Downgraded to one star because the more I think about it, the more I realise how much this book, its blatant hypocrisies, the obvious yet un-addressed bias of the author, the lack of fact-checking and the entire "Vichy France with tits" joke piss me off. Yes, Moran, a glamour model is just like the government of France which collaborated with Axis powers during World War 2. It's also hysterically accurate to compare a boy's childish reaction to a piece of underwear to "like that Vietnamese kid covered in napalm.". Keep in mind that all this, on top of the use of the word "retard", is present in a book where Moran writes an otherwise accurate piece on the harmful and emotional power of words such as "fat". I don't care if my criticisms of this get labelled as being too PC or some crap like that. Frankly, I'd rather be PC than crack stupid false equivalences regarding a child screaming in agonising pain.

I asked Moran about her use of the word "retard" in her book on more than one occasion on twitter. The result? She blocked me. Nice one.
Profile Image for Roxane.
Author 120 books160k followers
October 16, 2012
1. I am confounded by the critical response. Confounded.
2. The book is indeed very funny and has its charms but this is far more memoir than manifesto and very grounded in a rather singular set of experiences.
3. Good humor doesn't elevate common sense wisdom into groundbreaking or important feminist thought.
4. Casual racism! More than once! Or twice!
5. Birthing babies makes you a woman, you see. But that's followed by a chapter where it's totes okay if you choose not to have a baby.
6. People are being REALLY selective when sharing quotations from this book.
7. Frustrating book in every possible way.
8. More to say in a forthcoming essay.
Profile Image for Beth.
304 reviews566 followers
July 27, 2011
You know what? Since there are so many four and five star reviews hanging around for this, I will serve a proper review to show why I absolutely could not stand this book. Moran is a sporadically talented writer -- maybe it deserved 2/2.5 stars in the writing stakes. However, I did something I almost never do: I rated this book intellectually.

As a memoir, it succeeded (almost) brilliantly -- her recollection of her wedding had me in absolute stitches and makes me laugh every time I reread it (yes, I've reread it - multiple times); I liked that she wasn't some middle/upper-class Oxbridge girl, as most of the Times writers seem to be. It was really refreshing to read about her life. That being said, her writer belied her teen-author roots. Listen to me, guys. I'm a 17-year-old aspiring writer. Hannah Moskowitz is one of my favourite authors and MANY OTHER YOUNG ADULT AUTHORS DESERVE THEIR RESOUNDING SUCCESS. (This is in Caps not because I am trying some postmodern thing, emulating Caitlin Moran, but because the antithesis of this point makes me grind my teeth in fury.) I do not believe in any of this "oh you shouldn't be published if you're a teenager" and "everything teenagers write is crap" bullshit.

No. It's about the writing and good writing is good writing, regardless of who the author is or how old they are. However, I feel that good books by teenage authors should either belie their early starts (e.g. Invincible Summer) or use all that amped-up hyper-realistic teen experience as their biggest advantage (e.g. Break). Caitlin Moran lacked depth or objectiveness. When you are trying to write a book about feminism, I think that the most you need to be is objective to the max. Caitlin Moran is not. She has the over-eager, juvenile, puerile, irritating narrative voice of someone who is convinced of their opinion despite not having a) real evidence to back it up or b) a real understanding of the opposing viewpoint. There is no real reflection or evaluation. Her opinions can just be summarised as, "I believe this because I believe that X is awesome."

This was most painfully obvious during her segment on Lady GaGa. I like Lady GaGa. She appears to have a feminist standpoint and that is very, very good. In my opinion, she's not a "feminist symbol" by any stretch of the imaginaiton. Although Moran could easily have made the case that she was; what irritated me most of all was that Moran's analysis of GaGa never went beyond a giggly teenage girl with an idol, who thinks that said idol is awesome and so has no real sense of evaluation. She calls Lady GaGa her "idol" and refers to an intimate (not sexually intimate, guys, don't go there) experience with GaGa in a sex club. She reminded me a lot of that girl who gets taken for a whirlwind with the rich popular girl and comes back down to earth starry-eyed, completely refusing to hear a bad thing about her "idol."

The most jarring thing for me was the way that Moran backed up all her hyperbolising with one anecdote: that GaGa refused to do an album shoot while "down in the sand touching herself." (I'm paraphrasing. I don't have a copy of the book to hand.) Is that feminist? Yes, she refused to be objectified on her body. But with one Google search I turn up a picture of GaGa circa Telephone, with Beyonce, wearing nothing but what looks like some leather straps and leather boots, arms hiding the gory bits but with no doubt that GaGa is, at the very least, 98% naked. She's not quite "down in the sand touching herself" - but she's not far off. Ditto the lesbian kisses in the Telephone video. (It should be noted that I consider it everyone's right to be whatever the hell they want and with whoever the hell they want.) The point is that this wasn't done to show a lesbian relationship - for God's sake, they're in an all-women prison because GaGa's character poisoned her boyfriend. Not exactly the most positive portrayal of lesbianism, which makes the kiss (and the provocative dancing in barely-there underwear) more obvious titillation.

The worst example of this in the book is Germaine Greer. However, this is me ranting emotionally. I cannot stand Germaine Greer. Let's leave at that, shall we?

I just found all of Moran's arguments totally one-sided, narrow-minded and slightly creepy for their complete inability to take the full picture into account. Another example of this was her burlesque vs. stripping argument -- I know next to nothing abou either, but I would be very surprised if burlesque was made "for women by women" as Moran claims to state.

What was most mind-boggling about this book, though, was Moran's inability to accept her own quirkiness. I really hate the word "quirky", but there is no other way to describe it. For instance, her father said to her 'Remember you're a Womble' before walking her down the aisle (and oh, how I laughed). Her mum yelled out about her pubic hair in front of her father and her various mixed-sex siblings. I don't think that 'normal' really exists - but I do think that Moran has particularly unique experiences which she undermines by behaving as though they are commonplace. I've never known a single woman who has named her vagina or her breasts. That being said, I am, as I said above, seventeen. I'm aware that this might be a problem I run into later in life, when I might actually have to address either of those two anatomatical areas rather than just avoiding them altogether. But Moran presents all of this stuff as totally normal. Yes, all women have weird names for their vaginas! Yes, all women have weird names for their breasts! But Moran has a whole Twitter community to back her up on those things! However -- I would bet that most of the women who replied were the ones who ran into this problem (as Moran herself obviously has). It seems that on Twitter, if you don't have anything to add, you don't SAY that you have nothing to add. You just don't add anything. I would be very surprised if Moran received many tweets that could be summarised as "lol what" or "no I don't do that shit", and equally if the Tweeters who replied to her made up any more than a minority of the female British population.

ETA: also, I was having a quick look at the Quotes page on our very own Goodreads, and I could not help but see this:

"If you want to know what's in motherhood for you, as a woman, then - in truth - it's nothing you couldn't get from, say, reading the 100 greatest books in human history; learning a foreign language well enough to argue in it; climbing hills; loving recklessly; sitting quietly, alone, in the dawn; drinking whisky with revolutionaries; learning to do close-hand magic; swimming in a river in winter; growing foxgloves, peas and roses; calling your mum; singing while you walk; being polite; and always, always helping strangers. No one has ever claimed for a moment that childless men have missed out on a vital aspect of their existence, and were the poorer, and crippled by it."

(Note: I believe that both men and women have a right to have or not have children and that women without children should not be treated as emotional cripples for it. Although I do actually feel as though Moran short-changed the joy of having children, but maybe that's what you get for being raised by a mother who was, by her own admission, absolutely desperate to have them.) But am I the only one who sees the problem with this quote? She says that "Nothing [in motherhood] is something you couldn't get from...calling your mum." I didn't notice this when I read it (I don't read that closely, dudes), but seriously? Moran has just used evidence of a would-be mother's mother/child relationship (with her own mother) as a reason why you shouldn't have children? My opinion: seriously faulty analysis. If ringing your own mother gives you such happiness, why wouldn't you want to pass that on? (God, now I sound like someone who is advocating the "all women must have babies" stance. I'm just making the point that I don't think Moran is helping her case here.

Even where Moran cannot really be faulted on her analysis, such as in weddings or in her "Why You Should/Shouldn't Have Children" sections (although I was pissed that "Why You Should Have Children" seemed to revolve almost totally around her own experiences of childbirth), it is not the revolutionary piece of literature the back blurb hails. It's very blah, very typical. Nothing you couldn't see every other day in one magazine or another. She even presents stuff that seem to be part of accepted culture, like the fact that weddings cost too much for too little, as though she is the first person ever to have thought of them. Even during the "Why You Should/Shouldn't Have Children" sections, I found myself saying, "Well, *I* could have told you that!" And as a seventeen-year-old who has never been pregnant or even babysat a child, I'm pretty sure that shows how stale, pathetic and shallow most of Moran's supposedly "fresh" insight was.

In short, this long, vitriolic review can be summed up in one letter:

Dear Caitlin Moran,

Please do not let anyone market your book as "The Female Eunuch" if it is, in fact, a pretty good memoir hiding behind some stereotypically teenage-standard analysis.

Thank you.
Profile Image for Ariel.
301 reviews64.1k followers
September 15, 2016
iiiiiiii looooooved thiiiiis sooooooo muuuuuuuchhhh omgggggggg.

No but really. It's the thing everyone says, but this book is full of so many "omg! i feel that way too!" over and over and over again. I felt so understood and so together with Caitlin Moran and was so thankful to have this collection of frank and honest thoughts on being a lady today. Some people might even use the word "empowering".
Profile Image for Felicia.
Author 47 books128k followers
October 7, 2013
If you have even slight feminist beliefs, or if you are a woman who wants your eyes opened, sensibilities shocked, and then laugh your ass off, this is the book. I read Bossypants, which I love, but Caitlin Moran's strong feminist words were so inspiring to me, and just MADE SENSE. I might not have agreed with everything, but I was certainly amused and entertained the whole time. Definitely an auto-biography worth reading, dude or gal! And it's really dirty in parts, she talks about things you NEVER thought people would bring up. Too good!
Profile Image for Andy Marr.
Author 3 books781 followers
January 17, 2023
Let me be clear from the outset: I am a Feminist. Yes, I might have a willy, but I believe very firmly in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes. To be honest, the issue for me lies with those who do NOT believe in this. If anything, we should stop talking so much about 'feminism' and spend more time heaping shame on those idiot men (and women) who continue to believe that a woman's place is in the home, or a strip club, or behind a secretary's desk. If we were all feminists by default, then gender equality would become less of a choice, and the sceptics would be shown for what they are - a bunch of arserags.

Having said all this, perhaps the reason more people refuse to identify as feminists is because of the crazy ideas held by the more militant branch of feminists. I've heard of women claiming that all heterosexual sex is rape. Some are choosing to raise their child as 'genderless', allowing their child to 'choose their gender' identity when they reach their teenage years. More still argue that you're 'waging war on women' unless you completely support all the ideas and demands of their 'modern feminist' movement.

Also, Lena Dunham.

And the word 'mansplaining'.

That's why this book was such a breath of fresh air. Moran isn't looking to wage a war against men. For her, feminism is not an 'us versus them' thing. For her, it's 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. It's a stripped-back feminism. Feminism made simple. And it's something that we should all embrace without question.
Profile Image for Samadrita.
295 reviews4,675 followers
February 18, 2016
Much as there is to quibble over a strictly academic handling of feminist thought, if your introduction to feminism began here chances are you will be tempted to think that a jocular disdain for transpeople and tch-tch-ing sympathy for women outside the sphere of Europe and America could be pardoned in the light of light-hearted banter.

Caitlin Moran has a chatty, teenager-ishly snippy voice and she made me collapse into a helpless fit of distinctly unflattering, full-blown guffaws more often than what I had foreseen. But still make sure to take this mash-up of pop culture commentary, criticism, and opinions on gender rights issues with a pinch of salt. Better still take this as a memoir and a lengthy, one-sided rant and little else. For example if you are reading this with a pre-supposition of Ms Moran's capacity for empathy, your eyes may glaze over lines like the following in a desperate hurry to get to the funnier or more relevant bits -
"These tight, elasticated partitions across the mid-derriere are, in terms of both comfort and aesthetics, as cruel as the partition between India and Pakistan."

That's just her comparing the bodily harm inflicted by thongs to a profoundly sensitive subject which caused and still continues to cause tremendous emotional trauma to people on both sides of the border here. What galls me more is she probably has no idea of the nasty bit of British imperialist policy which planted and lovingly nurtured the seeds of this politico-religious strife in the first place.

Also, for someone so intent on teaching young girls to respect and love their own bodies, she seems too unforgiving of Victoria Beckham's 'bare, bebunioned feet'. Apparently she doesn't want 'toes that look like thalidomide pasties'. There's also the troubling statement which makes it clear that for Ms Moran, 'fat' is when you don't look 'human-sized'. Now what human-sized means is open to interpretation. My best guess is to be Caitlin Moran-sized is fine; to be, say, Melissa McCarthy-sized or Victoria Beckham-sized is not.
In any case, she is replacing one set of body image standards with another which defeats the very purpose of her proclamations.

There are also multiple attempts at third-world-culture shaming. Let me quote one instance -
"...one misguidedly thinking that (Katie) Price is a good businesswoman - despite the fact that she has to rope her kids into her business to make money: something I always associate with desperate Third World families.."

Since when did family businesses become a Third World thing? And what does this even mean? From what I see a good majority of the developed world's millionaires, billionaires and gazillionaires have been selling exclusive images of their newborn progeny to the highest-bidding tabloid for years now, many roping in their kids to pose as models to promote their fashion labels and what not.

Finally as a coup de grâce, let me mention the jokey correlation forged between the shrinking nature of female underwear through the years and the gradual break up of the Empire. It was at this point that I realized the publishers should have specifically stated on the blurb that Moran's brand of feminism/humour is not directed at former colonies or women of colour.

This review is probably exceeding the length that I had originally intended for it to fit in but my point is there are problematic remarks galore in Moran's faux-empowering babble and what I quoted is merely the tip of the iceberg. To know the rest, check out some of the extremely well-written 1-star reviews here. All people or situations at the butt end of her jokes seem to invite comparisons with those related to a sexual or religious or ethnic minority. What I found most disturbing was this total disregard for hurting the sentiments of a reader who may represent any of these minorities.

Barring these complaints, however, this is a passably readable autobiography. I found myself agreeing with her thoughts on the tyranny of adhering to notions of 'feminine' beauty, high heels, uncomfortable innerwear, obsessive hair removal, botox, plastic surgery, porn, strip bars, sexism at workplaces, motherhood, abortion, relationships and miscellany. But then we already know the basics of feminist theory don't we? So long story short, read this when your dreary daily schedule is in desperate need of a shot of humour or when at the end of a tiring day you can summon up the intellectual energy for nothing graver than this. Do not read this in the hopes of enriching your repertoire of feminist perspectives. For that you have your Beauvoirs and Kate Milletts and Angela Y. Davis-es and Susan Brownmillers.
Profile Image for Ridley.
359 reviews327 followers
October 5, 2012
Has an appalling case of unpacked privilege. Dropping "tranny" and "retard" in this book is just the tip of her shitty iceberg.

Newsflash: feminism that doesn't advocate for ALL women is no better than patriarchy.
Profile Image for Amanda.
282 reviews313 followers
March 29, 2013
Quite an uneven reading experience, a fault I largely blame on the marketing of this book. How to Be a Woman is touted as basically "Feminism--now with jokes!" And that's a concept that I could get onboard with. I would consider myself a feminist, I would consider myself moderately amusing at times, and I would consider myself a fan of Caitlin Moran's white streak in her wild mane--a bit reminiscent of the 90's version of Rogue. So, yes, let's do this! I want to feel empowered as a woman, I want to laugh, and I want to rewatch the X-Men cartoons on Netflix!

This was reaffirmed when I heard an NPR interview with Caitlin Moran. She spoke intelligently about a variety of topics facing women and was very humorous in doing so. She sounded like someone I would like: funny, self-deprecating, and smart.

So did the book live up to my expectations? Not so much. The main reason is that instead of a funny feminist manifesto, the book is basically a memoir that should have been titled How to Be Caitlin Moran. Not that that is a bad thing as I still find Moran likable, but I generally do not like memoirs. I was expecting a book of ideas. And there are wide swaths of Moran's life that I simply can't relate to. Other than the chapter I Am a Feminist!, there's surprisingly little feminism in the book other than sprinkling the term "strident feminist" in some seemingly incongruous places (such as "But what am I wearing, now? As a strident feminist, how am I dressed?" [202] in the chapter I Get Into Fashion!). As though there's some sort of feminist dress code? It may be simpler to split this up into what I did and did not like about the book, so without further ado:

What I Did Like About the Book
1. From the chapter on feminism, Moran presents a simple test for discovering whether or not you're a feminist: "So here is the quick way of working out if you're a feminist. Put your hand in your underpants. a. Do you have a vagina? and b. Do you want to be in charge of it? If you said 'yes' to both, then congratulations! You're a feminist" (75). She makes the point that almost every woman in the Western world is a feminist, whether they like being associated with that "dirty word" or not. Even women who say they're not feminists are enjoying the fruits of feminism as there was a time when a woman wasn't allowed to have an opinion, let alone express it. Being in charge of one's reproductive rights is a much larger issue than that of abortion. Deciding for yourself if you want to have one child, fifteen children, or none at all, thank you very much, is a right women haven't traditionally had before. Being able to say "enough already" is certainly a right women should be thankful for as so many women who came before us dropped a kid yearly, preferably sometime between clearing away the breakfast dishes and making supper.

2. Moran's funny, unapologetically irreverent take on everything. I didn't always agree with her views, but admired that she had the daring to say them. If there's one thing you can't claim, it's that she's inauthentic.

3. Her chapter on marriages. Weddings have become a ridiculously high-priced event that generally makes everyone involved miserable.

4. The extremely honest chapter about her own experience with abortion. Agree or disagree with abortion, so many make up their mind without having lived through it or, you know, asking the women of a society what they think. Reading about it from a personal level brings up some interesting points for thought and reflection.

5. Moments like this: "This is the first time I've really been out in the world and met adults. Previously, all my socializing took place on the dance floor and in the bathroom of the Raglan, a tiny dark pit populated by fringed, boot-wearing teenagers: essentially a playpen with a bar. Our innocence was obvious--it shone in our faces the same way our teeth glowed white under the UV light. Yes, people were having sex, and fighting, and spreading rumors, and taking drugs--but it was essentially like tiger cubs knocking each other around, claws velveted. We were all equal. There was no calculation or recrimination. Everything was forgotten after a nap" (117). I just like that.

What I Did Not Like About the Book

1. Dear GOD!!!!! I did not like all of the FREAKING UNNECESSARY CAPITALIZATION that made me feel like I was reading an unhinged TEENAGER'S DIARY!!! And for the love of all that is punctuation, would someone please remove the exclamation mark from Moran's keyboard? Early in the book, I thought this was just an affectation meant to show how the teenage Moran thought and felt; however, it continued, unrelentingly throughout the entire book. Every single chapter title ended with an exclamation.

2. There were some squirm worthy moments: I did not enjoy reading about Moran's early experiences with menstruation. I did not enjoy the suggestion that one should taste one's menstrual blood. I did not enjoy the suggestion that one should name one's vagina and one's breasts. Granted, I'm the type of person who perpetually lives in fear of TMI--Caitlin Moran clearly does not.

3. The suggestion that Lady GaGa is a feminist and should be placed upon a pedestal. To me, a feminist icon should be one who presents ideas. GaGa strikes me more as someone who is reaping the benefits of feminism, but not adding much new to the conversation. She is definitely a polarizing lightning rod, but more in the realm of image and sexuality. She definitely confronts and shatters stereotypes, but beyond that adds little to the conversation.

4. The fact that there's so little feminism in a book supposedly about feminism.

Cross posted at This Insignificant Cinder
Profile Image for Penney.
360 reviews13 followers
November 16, 2012
Because life is too short to feel guilty about not being a perfect woman. Let’s get real.

Caitlin Moran is wicked funny and painfully, awkwardly truthful in this book. Rather than harp on the theoretical implications of modern feminism, Moran skips the arguments and says simply, “Feminism is having a vagina and wanting to be in charge of it.” Ding ding!

She manages to address the horrors of childbirth and the joys of parenting, the conundrum of naming of vaginas, and the unnecessary discomfort of women hiring domestic help – all with a deft hand and abundant use of italics. As an added bonus, you’ll learn a fair amount of confounding British slang. A girlfriend gave me this book, and I continue to pass it forward. I wonder what amazingness would occur if every girl received this book on her 15th birthday? We could all save ourselves so much time, effort and angst! Read this book now, then give it away.

“No one has ever claimed for a moment that childless men have missed out on a vital aspect of their existence, and were the poorer, and crippled by it. Da Vinci, Van Gough, Newton, Faraday, Plato, Aquinas, Beethoven, Handel, Kant, Hume, Jesus. They all seem to have managed [childlessness] quite well.”
Profile Image for Andrew Shaffer.
Author 43 books1,389 followers
August 10, 2012
Everyone--men and women--should read this. I'm a dude and I didn't, like, grow a vagina or anything. So it's safe.
Profile Image for Stella.
299 reviews
June 3, 2012
I have laughed out loud in too many public places reading this perfect book that ALL women need to read and all men too. My reoccuring thought throughout reading was: It's not just me that thinks this way!
In little over 300 pages this book has made my confidence sky rocket.
This book takes you by the shoulders and shakes you like a best friend to remind you how important you are being exactly who you are with your saggy, flabby, wrinkly bits included too. Caitlin Moran - I demand MORE!...
Profile Image for Barry Pierce.
576 reviews7,755 followers
January 1, 2015
After following Caitlin Moran on Twitter for a couple of years now I thought it was eventually time to read one of her books. Well, that was one of my better ideas.

This can be labelled as a sort of feminist memoir and oh lord, is it good. Moran's witty, truthful, and journalistic prose makes reading this memoir a treat. A big feminist treat. Like Simone de Beauvoir belting a rendition of Beyoncé's Freakum Dress while riding on the back of an all-fours Jeanette Winterson. Her unparalleled attitude and "oops did I seriously just write that" approach reminds me of Lena Dunham's other touchstone feminist work "Not That Kind of Girl". This is an equally wonderful work.

2014 was the year of the feminist. Not since Greer's The Female Eunich (a book that Moran references fervently throughout her book) has the publishing industry been so bombarded with feminist folios. More like this please!
Profile Image for Warwick.
842 reviews14.6k followers
January 7, 2015
Unfortunately the e-reader I was using at the time has lost all of my notes on this, but I wanted to write something here anyway because I think Caitlin Moran is such an extravagantly gifted writer and I thought this book was a kind of masterpiece of its type.

Caitlin is my generation, and her English suburban background and sense of humour are mine, so the laughter when I read her stuff is mingled with a constant astonished recognition of the details, everything from adolescent wanking over The Camomile Lawn to singing the Crunchy Nut Cornflakes theme tune. Indeed I find her so relatable, and am so envious of her abilities as a comic stylist, that I feel almost personally affronted when people criticise her – as many people have done, because How to be a Woman marked the first time she was pushed in the US and found a readership there, and she subsequently came under analysis from a lot of very earnest feminist bloggers who were disappointed when she deviated from each individual writer's idea of correct dogma.

But this is not an academic text, it's a memoir with a mission, and she is always ready to drop politics momentarily for the sake of a good gag. As we all should be.

And you know… this came out at a time when there had been a whole spate of female celebrities making silly statements about how they don't like to call themselves feminists, or saying things like, ‘I'm not a feminist, but…’, and it just felt so nice finally to read something from someone whose attitude was: of course I'm a feminist, I mean it's basic fucking common sense. But it seems you can't win: as soon as you write a book about why feminism is quite clearly Right and A Good Thing, and does not need to come couched in lots of sociopolitical technobabble, other feminists immediately line up to take you to task for insufficient attention to intersectionality or transphobia.

So yeah, I felt like cheering the whole time. And I'm not even a woman. Obviously. For me she is a champion of straightforward thinking that does not contort itself to squeeze on to one side of the political spectrum, AND OF COURSE the most important thing is that I could not stop laughing. I rarely laugh out loud reading books, even very funny ones, but I read this on a long train journey from Monaco to Paris and the entire carriage was staring at me as I snorted, cried, and collapsed repeatedly into unsuppressable guffaws. (When we got off at the Gare de Lyon, two separate people asked me what I'd been reading. I said ‘IT'S HOW TO BE A WOMAN BY CAITLIN MORAN, READ THIS SHIT AT ONCE,’ something I've shouted subsequently on more than a few occasions.)
Profile Image for Page.
121 reviews8 followers
March 14, 2020
EDITING TO ADD: If you are here to tell me that Moron was just being "funny" or "ironic" or any other word meant to belittle my take on Moron's interview and thus insinuate that I just don't get it and I am pearl clutching:

GET THE FUCK OFF MY GOODREADS REVIEW. And go drip your Moron apologia somewhere else. I lived in the UK, I understand Moron's "humour" quite well, and I still think she's a fuckwit poor ass excuse for a feminist. As are her attack fans. So buh-bye and better luck proselytizing on someone else's review. Your comments will be deleted.


Moran can go screw herself. And return all those distasteful US dollars to the poor backward American women who bought her self-aggrandizing BS.


M: How was promoting your book in the US? Did they understand How to be a Woman?

C: It was tricky because many of the programs that you would go on, or interviews that you do, someone would take you aside and say “Well we’re kinda not allowed to say the word ‘vagina’ in America at the moment.”

M: Jesus.

C: It’s weird there. And you’d realise… like in the same way that we don’t have policemen with guns in the UK and then you go to America and the policemen have guns. And often you can be in a state where there’s the death penalty and…

M: Not for saying vagina, surely.

C: Yep! They kill you for saying vagina [laughs]. And then in the same way that you know, here (in Britain) we have contraception and abortion and then you go there (the US) and there are people that genuinely believe in Heaven and Hell and Satan and there are states where all sex is illegal and they’re trying to take back the right to abortion or the right to contraception.

And it’s a lot scarier, it’s like going back in the past or something. It’s like travelling two hundred, a hundred years back and I feel quite vulnerable as a woman there because there are things that you can just toss off in a conversation here that people take for granted but you have to take people step-by-step through it in America in terms of feminism.

M: Like the fact that you’ve written about your abortion and things like that: you just can’t just go on The View and chat about that, can you.

C: It’s got to the point now where when I’m doing interviews with people, and I know they’re about to talk about abortion, because they do this sort of sympathetic head and they go “of course you wrote very meaningfully about your abortion” and I always have to stop myself laughing when they do it. Not that I’m laughing at abortion, it’s just because that’s what everyone feels they have to do when we talk about it.

So yeah, it was weird going there and having to basically justify feminism again in a way I never had to in this country or in any other places. Italy seems to be troubled as well, judging from the interviews that I’ve done. You get female interviewers who really need you, who are desperate for you to take them through, step-by-step, through why women should be equal to men, and why access to abortion should be a right. They need you to do that because that conversation has still not happened there. Women still haven’t been proven equal to men in Italy as far as I’m aware.

M: There was a very tragic case in Melbourne recently, about an Irish girl who was walking home from a bar, and who was married and lived 800 metres from a bar, and was walking home and was just randomly abducted and raped and murdered. And it’s really been one of those watershed moments for the whole country.

There have been peace marches, and reclaim the night marches, because it is that thing that we all fear, a woman walking alone, randomly taken from the streets, and it’s really divided a lot of women. Because there have been those who have said, “don’t blame the victim, we need to be free to walk the streets at any time, it’s men who need to be taught not to rape and murder.”

And of course it should never be about victim blaming but I worry about the idea of saying to women “don’t change your behaviour, this is not your problem!”. I feel like that’s saying, ”You should be able to leave your car unlocked with the keys in the ignition, or leave your front door unlocked, and expect nobody to burgle you.”

C: Yes. It’s on that basis that I don’t wear high heels – other than I can’t walk in them – because when I’m lying in bed at night with my husband, I know there’s a woman coming who I could rape and murder, because I can hear her coming up the street in high heels, clack-clack -clack. And I can hear she’s on her own, I can hear what speed she’s coming at, I could plan where to stand to grab her or an ambush. And every time I hear her I think, “Fuck, you’re just alerting every fucking nutter to where you are now. And [that it’s a concern] that’s not right.

Society should be different. But while we’re waiting for society to change, there’s just certain things you have to do. But again the thing is, so many things you could do instead are predicated on having money. She could come out of a nightclub and get into a taxi, that would be the right thing to do.

No billionaire heiresses are ever abducted and raped and murdered, because they are just being put into a taxi or have their driver waiting around a corner for them.

Oh, Caitlin, you ignorant prat, you.

First, Patty Hearst is an heiress who was abducted and raped and forced to commit armed robbery, so go learn some history and stop talking out of your lower back orifice.

Second, I lived in the UK. British women are no more and no less liberated than American women. Period. In fact, since the UK is the proud home of Katie Price/Jordan, and turned Jade Goody into a posthumous saint, and worships at the feet of WAGs (wives and girlfriends of football/soccer stars,) and, worst of all, thinks that Victoria Beckham is actually relevant (we kicked her ass to the curb in the States and made her run back to Europe): I rest my case.

"States were all sex is outlawed"?!?!? Oh Moran, you xenophobic moron.

"Policemen don't have guns in the UK" Oh, so those armed men standing outside New Scotland Yard that I passed every day on my way to Tube were holding toy assault rifles?

"They kill you for saying vagina" Oh, poor Eve Ensler! Has her family been informed of her demise?

Oh, and let's not start with Moron's - I mean, Moran's victim blaming. I know far too many rape and assault victims who were attacked while wearing flat soled shoes; who were attacked in their beds; who were attacked while running in broad daylight in a "safe" neighborhood. I myself was surrounded by a group of drunk Champagne Charlies who tried to scare and intimidate me at 8 o'clock in the morning on Charing Cross Road; I wore rubber-soled shoes, a bulky leather coat and no make-up. (Funny, the only time I've been scared for my person has been in London, despite living in several US cities with worse reputations.)

But no, according to Moran, the only women who get raped are those who "deserve" it by dressing and acting a certain way.

In other words, ragey, ragey eyeball stabby. If Moran had an ethical bone in her body (which I doubt) she would donate every pence of her royalties to rape helplines and battered women shelters, to counteract just an ounce of the BS she peddles.
Profile Image for Melissa.
155 reviews65 followers
October 27, 2012
This is an abridged review. You can read the full thing here. Also, I demoted it by one star because while I was writing the review, I got to further reflect on (and remember!) all the reasons this book pissed me off so much in the first place. It's pretty bad.

The thought of this book serving as anyone's introduction to feminism horrifies me.

Let's start with Moran's take on a subject near and dear to my heart, women's history:
Even the most ardent feminist historian...can't conceal that women have basically done fuck-all for the last 100,000 years. Come on -- let's admit it. Let's stop exhaustively pretending that there is a parallel history of women being victorious and creative, on an equal with men, that's just been comprehensively covered up by The Man. There isn't.

This really pisses me off for a couple of reasons. The first is that she's distorting an entire academic field. I read a decent amount of women's history; not once have I ever come across a serious historian claiming that there was a "parallel history" of women being equal to men. Like, ever. However, the real reason this flippancy angers me is because it is the same attitude used to dismiss Native American history, or Black history, or Latin@ history, or any other kind of history that isn't white and European. This attitude has been quite the problem in the legacy of mainstream feminism.

Since we're on the subject of feminist legacies, let's talk about the chapter that's very much the heart of the book: the one specifically dedicated to converting people to feminism (a.k.a. An Illustration of What NOT to Do When Preaching Feminism):

Rule #1: Don't start by paraphrasing Germaine "Transphobe" Greer (but if you absolutely must, don't double down by paraphrasing creepy, cissexist shit like "you need to taste your menstrual blood," for christ's sake).

Rule #2: Don't say that people who can't say "I'm a feminist" are "basically bending over, saying, 'Kick my arse and take my vote, please, patriarchy." Plenty of people know damn well what feminism is and reject the label (but not the principles) precisely because of dumb, alienating shit like this.

Rule #5: Don't say, "I want to reclaim the phrase 'strident feminist' in the same way the hip-hop community has reclaimed the word 'nigger.'" (SHE ACTUALLY SAYS THIS.)

There are tons of other problems with the book, but since the book is being marketed as fun feminism, I'll just touch on Moran's take on what her intended audience might consider fun: sexy stuff! Like pole dancing classes! And burlesque! But don't you dare become a stripper:
I can't believe that girls saying, "Actually, I'm paying my university fees by stripping" is seen as some kind of righteous, empowered, end-of-argument statement on the ultimate morality of these places...One doesn't want to be as blunt as to say, "Girls, get the fuck off the podium -- you're letting us all down," but: Girls, get the fuck off the podium -- you're letting us all down.

pole-dancing classes, on the other hand, are fine! I know! Who would have thought!...So long as women are doing it for fun -- because they want to, and they are in a place where they won't be misunderstood, and it seems ridiculous and amusing...then it's a simple open-and-shut case of carry on, girls. Feminism is behind you.

With burlesque, not only does the power balance rest with the person taking her clothes off...but it also anchors its heart in freaky, late-night, libertine self expression: it has a campy, tranny, fetish element to it.

Strippers are letting us down, feminism supports pole dancing classes, and it's totally okay to use a derogatory term that hurts trans people on top of tying adjectives like "campy" and "fetish" to trans identities. Got it. Yay, feminism! 

So what is her problem? Why does this book have so many issues?

Earlier this month, Moran interviewed Lena Dunham to talk about her TV show, Girls. Someone on Twitter contacted Moran to ask if she had addressed the lack of representation of women of color on Girls (an issue that has been cropping up pretty much since that show first began):

And there it is. Intersectionality? She doesn't give a shit about it.

Profile Image for Meagan.
1,317 reviews47 followers
September 19, 2012
Feminists have been moaning about why women (and men) hesitate to label themselves as feminists these days. And rightly so. It makes no sense for women (or men) to be nervous about being pro-gender equality. I have a theory about that, which fits with both this book's assertions and many of the negative reviews of it here on goodreads. A lot of "traditional" feminists have this reputation for being aggressive, judgmental, and overly serious. Who wants to hang out with someone who is likely to find fault with everything you do, everything you say, and every opinion you hold? Militant feminists can be a minefield, making you feel like an enemy to your gender for wearing kitten heels, or for refusing to wear kitten heels. The rules keep changing!

But Caitlin Moran, on the other hand, leaves all the strident in her feminism, without all the militant. This brand of feminism is fine with you wearing kitten heels, or with you refusing to wear kitten heels, so long as you made the decision for your own happiness, and not to satisfy the happiness of others. This brand of feminism makes it clear that healthy women love men, even if they don't love love men. It takes back the idea that independent, modern feminists can be funny, silly, and can make fun of our idiosyncrasies. We don't have to be all dour and glum, muttering about The Man all the time. These are feminists you want to hang out with, and be associated with. These are the feminists who make you happy to get up on a chair and shout "I am a strident feminist!" with.

Plus, this book made me snort-laugh a few times. Always a good sign.
Profile Image for Melki.
6,036 reviews2,386 followers
March 24, 2017
"When the subject turns to abortion, cosmetic intervention, birth, motherhood, sex, love, work, misogyny, fear, or just how you feel in your own skin, women still often won't tell the truth to each other unless they are very, very drunk."

Caitlin Moran is right. Nowadays, you DO have to be drunk. The last time I heard a female friend relate anything even remotely personal was when L. had too much wine at book club and really tore into her deadbeat ex-husband. (Seriously, you earn $98,000 a year but can't pay child support? You bastard!)

When I was in college, I fell in with the wrong crowd - a group of older women who were returning to finish degrees that had been nudged aside for marriage and family. Those broads rocked my world and led me away from the path of righteousness, and I THANK THEM every day for doing so. Thirty years have slipped by, and I've yet to find another group of women to whom I can say ANYTHING and not be judged. And, man, do I ever miss that! Now, if you talk about S-E-X, it's deemed T-M-I. Why is wanting to talk about something we all do too much information? Why does no one want to go there?

Well, Ms. Moran GOES THERE. From pubic hair (Yes!) to high heels (No!), she lets it all hang out. And what fun it was spending time with her. Though a continent and more than a decade separate us, I may possibly have more in common w/ Moran than any woman I've met in real life. I found her let-your-freak-flag-fly message to be reassuring, entertaining and pants-wettingly funny. Not everyone will like her, or her book. And that's okay. If even thinking about the f-word makes you blush, if you've never concocted an imaginary relationship with a male celebrity, or if you've never touched yourself down there, put the book down and back away.

If you're like me, you'll love it.

Being a woman . . . after all these years, I'm pretty sure I've been doing it right.
Profile Image for Amber.
340 reviews46 followers
September 21, 2012
I'm never going to read this book, ever.

Yes, I may have a lot of privilege, enough that I was able to take an "Introduction to Women's Studies" course last year at my university.

But so does frickin' Caitlin Moran.

And that does NOT make it okay for her to publish a book MARKETED AS AN INTRODUCTORY GUIDE TO FEMINISM that freely uses hate speech, inserts homophobic remarks, promotes an ableist mentality, and ignores general research to avoid making idiotic generalizations on an individual's sexual orientation.

The last time I checked feminism was about inclusion. I think it's wonderful that she made an effort to put feminism back on the table in the general media but I despise that she had to do it in such an inappropriate, haphazard, poorly labelled way.

I don't want any arguments about how this kind of language helps the book appeal to the general public. A book about feminism should NEVER be using hate speech. This goes against so much of what modern day feminism stands for. It's really not hard to censor yourself - people ask you to do it around their children!

An introductory guide should not be teaching its readers to use words that are unacceptable in the community. It's like teaching someone a new language with all the vulgar, impolite terms, and then telling them to go practice with strangers. No, just use the polite, non-academic terminology or make this a personal memoir and be done with it. The moment you advertised as a introductory guide to feminism was the moment I disregarded and shamed your novel - forever and ever.
Profile Image for Megan Baxter.
985 reviews663 followers
May 19, 2014
I finished this book over a week ago, but then promptly packed up to go visit my grandmother, and was nowhere near a computer. My grandmother turned 95 on Friday. She's a pretty remarkable woman. There's a story that is told in women's history circles, about the classic assignment to go interview your grandmother, and how everyone comes back, convinced that their grandmother was a "feminist," whether or not their grandmother would have agreed with that assessment. Everyone's grandmother seems to be more opinionated, stronger, and more capable than they were expecting, and that translates in their heads, into "feminist."

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook
Profile Image for Sarah Churchill.
472 reviews1,174 followers
December 27, 2015
Part memoir, part rant, this is my second Moran read and yet again she's left me feeling inspired and empowered, determined to be just a little bit better at being me.
Profile Image for Bianca.
1,081 reviews918 followers
December 1, 2020

This was hilarious, breezy and relatable. There's no dry academic feminism talk to be found anywhere.
Personal anecdotes and stories serve as launching pads to discuss feminist issues ranging from motherhood to abortion, sexism, weddings, plastic surgeries and so on.

Having Moran herself read the book was like having a chat between the girls over a glass of wine or two. She's funny, swears a lot, and is unapologetic. I dig her!

I'll have to get my hands on her latest book on the dreaded M.

Profile Image for Carolyn.
14 reviews2 followers
December 13, 2012
Two caveats:

One: At times, Moran misses the opportunity to connect the feminist needs and experiences of hetero women to the feminist needs and experiences of GLBTQAI, minority communities, and other groups of people to whom the female experience is infinitely parallel.

Two: I straight-up disagree with her on at least two major points.

But the thing is, her arguments for those two points were not ones I'd heard before. They made me think about issues in genuinely new ways. And I spend a LOT of time thinking about these things. She's a fresh and incisive intellect.

But in general, this book had a great balance of anecdote and analysis, alternating milk-out-your-nose-funny stories of booze and underpants with cogent analyses of the current Western State of Affairs.

A great read.
Profile Image for Glenn Sumi.
404 reviews1,587 followers
June 9, 2015
I remember seeing the cover of this book and wondering: Who is this Caitlin Moran person, and why should I care about her being a woman?

Well it turns out she is quite a big deal in the UK, where she wrote a novel at 15, became a music journalist for the weekly Melody Maker at 16 and briefly hosted a Channel 4 pop culture show called Naked City at 18 before embarking on a long career as a TV critic and satirical columnist for The Times.

In fact, while visiting the UK last fall, I saw one of her columns in that paper (I think I only read real newspapers when I’m visiting somewhere else) and thought: Aha! And I was hooked.

So when this book popped up at the library I thought: Why not? And I listened along to the audio version, which turned out to be a good decision. Her exuberant, fierce personality comes through – in both her prose and voice. (I have yet to see her on TV or onstage, but I have a feeling she’d be just as exciting.)

How To Be A Woman is a lively, smart and thoroughly entertaining memoir about growing up in a semi-hippie-ish large family (seven kids!) in a council house in Wolverhampton, England, surviving bullying and being called fat (by a bloke she had a crush on, no less), learning about boys, sex, coming to terms with her body (including what to call her lady parts), falling in love (with the wrong guy, oh was he ever the wrong guy), experiencing sexism, conducting some bizarre interviews (there’s a chapter set in a strip club), finding the right guy, getting married (oh that wedding sounded horrible) and having kids but understanding why you might not want to have them, too.


Also included are some shots at footballers’ wives and Katie Price, British things that made me scratch my head (although I think I can imagine their North American equivalents).

Moran’s a gifted, naturally funny writer with strong and persuasive opinions that come from her 40-odd years of life. (She’s packed a lot in.) Chapters have sassy, intentionally bad headline titles like “I Am Fat!” or “I Get Into Fashion!” to go with the book’s tongue-in-cheek overall title, which seems both a proud declaration of feminism and a send-up of the kind of self-help titles marketed mainly to women.

What’s especially intriguing about the writing is you’ll begin a chapter on one thing and then take a detour to somewhere equally fascinating. The section on menstruation (“I Start Bleeding!”), for instance, soon becomes a hilarious and refreshingly honest look at her sexual awakening, via Jilly Cooper novels, Chevy Chase movies (!!!) and the complete oeuvre of Jenny Agutter. That, in turn, leads to an intelligent and passionate discussion about porn.

And while Moran can be wildly funny and chatty, she’s dealing with serious issues. Her chapter on feminism should be required reading for all human beings. And a section about delivering her first child is painfully, almost excruciatingly, honest and real.

Even her analyses of pop culture figures like Madonna vs. Lady Gaga are filled with smart cultural insights.

As with any book like this, there’s a bit of repetition, and some topics will appeal to some readers more than others. I sort of glossed over her section on women’s clothes, for instance. But after reading Moran on the hell that is the high heel, you have my sympathies, women.

The book ends with a discussion of getting older and touches on things like plastic surgery. I look forward to reading Moran chronicle the second half of her life, hard-earned wrinkles and all.

In the meantime, I’m buying copies of this book for my two nieces.
Profile Image for Janette Fleming.
370 reviews50 followers
December 1, 2011

1913 – Suffragette throws herself under the King’s horse.

1969 – Feminists storm Miss World.

NOW – Caitlin Moran rewrites The Female Eunuch from a bar stool and demands to know why pants are getting smaller. There’s never been a better time to be a woman: we have the vote and the Pill, and we haven’t been burnt as witches since 1727. However, a few nagging questions do remain…
Why are we supposed to get Brazilians?
Should you get Botox?
Do men secretly hate us?
What should you call your vagina?
Why does your bra hurt?
And why does everyone ask you when you’re going to have a baby?

Part memoir, part rant, Caitlin Moran answers these questions and more in How To Be A Woman – following her from her terrible 13th birthday (‘I am 13 stone, have no friends, and boys throw gravel at me when they see me’) through adolescence, the workplace, strip-clubs, love, fat, abortion, TopShop, motherhood and beyond.

SCREAM! I loved this book, it is like spending an evening with your new, very funny/very clever,best friend.

This is a gloriously funny, witty memoir that will have you snorting with laughter within 5 mins. Let's be honest it is not going to become a academic tome of feminist philosophy but underneath all the jokes is a 'short, sharp feminist agenda'. Be happy in yourself and women stop falling for the lies the world tells us about what it is to be a woman - and as a result, start having a good time. ENDOV!!

"Because if all of the stories in this book add up to one single revelation, it is this: to just...not really give a shit about all that stuff. To not care about all those supposed 'problems' of being a woman. To refuse to see them as problems at all. Yes - when I had my massive feminist awakening, the action it provoked in me was...a big shrug," says Moran
Profile Image for Anwen Hayward.
Author 2 books315 followers
August 27, 2014
Gosh, being a feminist is BRILLIANT!!!!!! I love being a woman. Well, I love being me. Women should love being women, but only if they're like me. If they're not like me, then they are sexist and RUBBISH. Women shouldn't shave because that's unfeminist, but women should shave because it feels LOVELY. They should definitely do one or the other. I don't know which, but if they do the wrong one, then they are SEXIST. Here is a word I don't understand, followed by a faux-feminist point about why Katie Price should LITERALLY DIE. I love burlesque because it's empowering, but STRIPPING is VILE. Here's a joke about a child covered in napalm, and here are some EXCITING CAPITAL LETTERS. This s a typo because my editors couldn't be bothered to read this tripe either. This book took FIVE MONTHS TO WRITE and it shows!! I grew up poor, you know. Like, really, really poor. So poor I didn't even have a BIRTHDAY CAKE. If you had a birthday cake, then you were probably privileged scum. I'm best friends with Lady Gaga and sometimes I hang out with loads of other famous people. They're all FANTASTIC feminists, obviously, because they know me. I've been writing since I was a LITERAL CHILD and I didn't have any of that pubic hair, so I couldn't be a feminist then, but I've grown up now (although my writing hasn't changed A BIT) and now I have hair under my ARMPITS so I guess that makes me fully qualified!! Although I do shave sometimes but if you do that then you're SEXIST because you're not me. This book is LITERALLY BRILLIANT and if you don't agree then you are clearly part of the sexist patriarchal mulch that constitutes our modern day society. Please love me.
Profile Image for Paul.
2,309 reviews20 followers
February 5, 2017
Hmmm... This is a tricky one. Reading around the Internet, I think a lot of people have been disappointed by this book because they weren't familiar with Moran's other work and were expecting it to be a fully-formed feminist manifesto and, having seen a lot of the promotional material for the book, I don't really blame them.

This book is a kind of humorous semi-memoir sprinkled with generous helpings of Moran's opinions on what it is to be a woman, which has a feminist slant.

A bit of a non-specific description that, wasn't it? This pretty much sums up how I feel about the book. It is often very funny, sometimes thought-provoking and, in places, very moving... but it suffers a bit from not knowing what it wants to be.

It's not quite funny enough to be a comedy, not serious enough to be a manifesto and not consistently delving enough to be a memoir (although the chapters on having children... and not... were deeply personal and extremely moving).

I won't say I didn't enjoy it, because I did, and I won't say it didn't move me, because there were tears, but, like a Mississippi bullfrog, it didn't know which way to jump. The book as a whole somehow manages to be less than the sum of its parts.
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