The book piqued my interest as it was entitled 'How to be a woman' - surely a book for every woman to read. Indeed there is a quote from Grazia magazine on the cover that says just that. It is written by Caitlin Moran, whom the foreword informed me is a columnist for The Times. I had not come across her before, but her book is written in such a way as she assumes the reader is familiar with her 'fame'.
The book itself is a mixture of reminiscences from Caitlin's past and rants about the things women put up with. This leads to a view of feminism as seen through the eyes of someone who cares a lot about clothes, shoes and sex. The backstory of her experiences as a women are an odd mixture, moving swiftly through having to wear her mums old knickers to being whacked out on Ecstasy.
Large sections of the book felt irrelevant to my personal ideas of 'how to be a woman'. It is attempting to be humourous and witty but often falls short of the mark by spending too long contemplating how underwear and clothing styles combine make a woman have four or eight bottoms. At one point i felt compelled to count the space taken up by justifying why a modern woman can hire another woman to clean her house. Two and a half pages by the way.
The book does not focus solely on what her personal experiences of being a woman are. She also writes about feminism. These two and a half pages on why it is okay to pay someone else to tidy up for you, contrast starkly in my mind with the two bullet points given to explain who can be a feminist. Feminists, according to Caitlin Moran, must have vaginas and must wish to be in control of them. The desire for everyone to be equal and have equal chances, to me, does not belong solely to the person with the right kind of genitals. She later goes on to asign blame for the unequal lot of women to 'the Patriarchy'. This brought to mind some kind of mobster gang who go around deliberately oppressing women. Unfortunately i don't believe it is that simple. Inequality is engrained in our culture, and that takes time and effort to change. It is not one gang of men doing it deliberately but instead a multitude of tiny exchanges that need to change. However there is redemption for Caitlin Moran when she uses the point of comparison for how it would look if men did the same thing.
There are other points made where i can feel myself nodding along and saying an internal 'right on, sister'. For example when she discusses how women re the same as men when it comes to being vile to each other, when she points out that journalists always have to ask about when (and not if) a female celebrity will have children, and the irony of a wedding being the 'best day' of your life. The frankness with which some sections of the book are written can be refreshing, but this feeling doesn't last as she quickly delves of into an inane area of her own pre-occupations.
The disjointed nature of the book makes it hard to mesh together a solid idea, as the writing flits between rant and rememberance. The foreword informs me it was written in the space of five months, and it shows. Overall it has some witty highlights, but it was not what i expected initially.
As it turns out every woman is not the same person, and so despite the book appealing to others, i was left with a distinct feeling that despite having a vagina i was not the target audience for this book. I don't need six and a half pages on wearing high heels (i just don't) and two and a half pages on hiring a cleaner. This book should be more accurately entitled 'how to be a woman like Caitlan Moran'.