Sunday, March 11, 2012

How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

This is a terrifically funny book and it is wonderful to be presented with modern fiction which doesn’t think that the word ‘feminist’ is one to be avoided at all costs. The book is an autobiography covering Moran’s life to date and although some reviewers have belittled the fact that she does not mention some significant aspects of her life (such as winning writing competitions in her youth that allowed her to plough the lonely furrow of journalism with some support), they are overlooking the fact that autobiography has to be edited and of course Moran is not going to include every single aspect of her life. Our stories are self edited and adapted every day, every year. We tell people what we want to in order to fashion our stories and create our own personal narratives. Do I really care if Moran has adapted her truth? Not really, because the book still stands alone as a funny look at modern womanhood and the need for women to embrace feminism because of the steps we are yet to take.
In the light of the current presidential race in the states; with candidates like Santorum claiming the hard won victories of women, such as birth control and abortion, are towers that he is willing to bomb into historical collapse, it is all the more important that women in Britain and abroad recognise the journey that we have already taken. The rights and privileges that are seemingly enshrined in our lives but which we cannot take for granted as the extreme right, mad patriarchy and the ideologists who disguise their dogma under religious beliefs try to strip away the things that have enabled women to have good health, choices about their own bodies and a sense of independence. When we look at what we have, it is all too easy to strip away.
Moran’s book is not overtly political but comes from a place where the personal is political, where she takes aspects of her working class roots and gender and subjects them to a heartfelt and funny analysis, pointing out the insidious changes in our cultural life over the last twenty years that make a the ideals of a patriarchal consumer society’s ideals of the modern woman’s life a little more proscribed and a little more difficult to achieve. Moran makes us want to be the women we can be, taking difficult choices and not caring too much about underarm hair and the shape of our vaginas. It’s a funny, fun book and well worth a read.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sian. I've yet to read the book but I absolutely love Moran's columns in The Guardian and I follow her on Twitter - great tweets by the way. She provides such refreshing insights into our values and attitudes as a society. You've motivated me to read it now. x


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