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‘How to be a woman’?

Just finished Caitlin Moran’s book How to be a Woman – I’d had it on my kindle for ages, and finally suggested it to the book group I belong to as a way to actually get round to reading it. I’m really glad I did, it was great. She’s very funny and writes extremely well, so it was also an easy read. Maybe I particularly liked it because I kept agreeing with her!

One of the other women in the book group was less convinced, but then I think she is more committed to some of the things Moran criticises. What I liked about the critical stuff though, was that Moran criticises things, and explains why, rather than criticising people who do the things. To be fair to my friend, who read the book and liked it less, her view was that it was too much someone’s opinion – she wanted more of a story I think. For me, the story is there in the midst, but it’s definitely light touch. Another book group member liked the book, but wanted Moran to engage with feminist theory a bit more, she felt that given Moran writes so well she would be good at making theory live for readers. I admit it would be really interesting to read Moran on feminist theory, but that would be quite a different book – maybe she should try that next?

Overall, I guess Moran’s book wasn’t groundbreaking for any of us in the group, but we are all older than Moran, and all of us are pretty clear about the women we are. However, I found it really uplifting to read, even though some of it is sad and some observations do make you feel frustrated about what our culture expects from women. I found myself reading bits out loud to my partner and making him laugh too. I also kept finding myself both amusedly enjoying and bewailing the sights around me, which echoed Moran’s observations – g string knicker lines, wobbling high heels, hen night antics, men’s easy freedom with clothes and actions, and I finished up having an interesting conversation about depilation with a group of women friends, and I hadn’t done that since the 1980s! In recognising these things around me, I did feel I had more sympathy with the women I observed. I think Moran likes people, and she made me, as a reader, appreciate some things more, while still making me very glad to be a feminist! She also really made me finally understand the attraction of Lady Gaga.

I’m not sure what you would think if you are a younger woman and read the book, or if you are a man? On Moran’s website http://www.caitlinmoran.co.uk/index.php lots of younger women and a few men seem to have really liked the book and found it resonated. If you’ve read it, what did you think?

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