How To Be A Woman – Caitlin Moran

Caitlin Moran’s seminal book on Feminism was one of my audible purchases on an impulse, but I was surprisingly disappointed by many of the points made in it. With some funny moments, but also some points that I really disliked, this wasn’t a book I could recommend wholeheartedly.

How To Be A Woman – Caitlin Moran

10600242Though they have the vote and the Pill and haven’t been burned as witches since 1727, life isn’t exactly a stroll down the catwalk for modern women. They are beset by uncertainties and questions: Why are they supposed to get Brazilians? Why do bras hurt? Why the incessant talk about babies? And do men secretly hate them? Caitlin Moran interweaves provocative observations on women’s lives with laugh-out-loud funny scenes from her own, from adolescence to her development as a writer, wife, and mother.

I think a large part of my problem with this book was that it was full of generalisations. Moran made sweeping declarations that all women should love big lingerie, all women love weddings, all men are stronger than women, and I was just left shaking my head at many of these statements.

There were some great chapters in here – Moran’s chapters on pregnancy and abortion were excellent, with a balanced view of bodily autonomy and the pressures on women, as well as a really good declaration of the things she learned as a mother, in counterpoint to a very clear statement that there’s nothing mothers can do that non-mothers can’t. But I also disagreed with some of her statements about multi-tasking – who’s to say that mothers are busier than non-mothers? and there was some really very objectionable language in the book.

As well as that, an entire chapter dedicated to what to call your genitals, and the misuse of the term vagina when she meant vulva, left me rolling my eyes expressively.

I listened to the audible version of this book, narrated by Moran herself, and it swung wildly between her childhood Wolverhampton accent and a more neutral accent that she uses now. There were several points where the Wolverhampton (which was generally only put on for imitating herself as a child) inexplicably appeared mid-chapter, which was disconcerting. Not that I have any issue with accents, but fluctuation of accent detracts from the book itself.

Some great chapters, some very dull chapters, some chapters I vehemently disagreed with. Approach with caution!

Three Stars

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