How to Be a Woman

How to Be a Woman

by Caitlin Moran


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780091940737
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/28/2011

About the Author

Caitlin Moran’s debut book, How to Be a Woman, was an instant New York Times bestseller. Her first novel, How to Build a Girl, received widespread acclaim. She lives in London. You can follow Caitlin on Twitter: @caitlinmoran

Read an Excerpt

How to Be a Woman

By Caitlin Moran

HarperCollins Publishers

Copyright © 2012 Caitlin Moran
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-06-212429-6



I Start Bleeding!

So, I had assumed it was optional. I know that women bleed every month, but I didn't think it was going to happen to me. I'd presumed I would be able to opt out of it - perhaps from sheer unwillingness. It honestly doesn't look that much use or fun, and I can't see any way I can fit it into my schedule.

I'm just not going to bother! I think to myself, cheerfully, as I do my ten sit ups a night. Captain Moran is opting out! I am taking my "By the Time I'm 18" list very seriously. My "Loose [sic] Weight" campaign has stepped up a gear - not only am I still not eating ginger nuts, but I'm also doing ten sit ups and ten push ups a night. We don't have any full length mirrors in the house, so I've no idea how I'm doing, but I imagine that, at this rate, my boot camp regime will have me as slender as Winona Ryder by Christmas.

I'd only found out about periods four months ago, anyway. My mother never told us about them - "I thought you'd picked it all up from Moonlighting," she said vaguely, when, years later, I asked her about it - and it's only when I came across a Tampax leaflet, stuffed in the hedge outside our house by a passing schoolgirl, that I'd discovered what the whole menstrual deal was.

"I don't want to talk about this," Caz says, when I come into the bedroom with the leaflet and try to show it to her. "But have you seen?" I ask her, sitting on the end of her bed. She moves to the other end of the bed. Caz doesn't like "nearness:" It makes her extremely irascible. In a three bedroom council [subsidized] house with seven people in it, she is almost perpetually furious.

"Look - this is the womb, and this is the vagina, and the Tampax expands width ways, to fill the ... burrow," I say.

I've only skim read the leaflet. To be honest, it has blown my mind quite badly. The cross section of the female reproductive system looks complicated, and impractical - like one of those very expensive Rotastak hamster cages, with tunnels going everywhere. Again, I'm not really sure I want in on all of this. I think I thought I was just made of solid meat - from my pelvis to my neck - with the kidneys wedged in there somewhere. Like a sausage. I dunno. Anatomy isn't my strong point. I like romantic 19th century novels, where girls faint in the rain, and Spike Milligan's war memoirs. There isn't much menstruation in either. This all seems a bit.... unnecessary.

"And it happens every month," I say to Caz. Caz is now actually lying, fully dressed, under her duvet, wearing Wellington boots. "I want you to go away," her voice says from under the duvet. "I'm pretending you're dead. I can't think of anything I want to do less than talk about menstruation with you."

I trail away.

"Nil desperandum!" I say to myself. "There's always someone I can go to for a sympathetic ear and a bowlful of cheery chat!" The stupid new dog is under my bed. She has gotten pregnant by the small dog, Oscar, who lives across the road. None of us can quite work out how this has happened, as Oscar is one of those small yappy type dogs, only slightly bigger than a family size tin of baked beans, and the stupid new dog is a fully grown German shepherd.

"She must have actually dug a hole in the ground, to squat in," Caz says in disgust. "She must have been gagging for it. Your dog is a whore."

"I'm going to become a woman soon, dog," I say. The dog licks her vagina. I have noticed the dog always does this when I talk to her. I have not yet worked out what I think about this, but I think I might be a bit sad about it.

"I found a leaflet, and it says I'll be starting my period soon," I continue. "I'll be honest, dog - I'm a bit worried. I think it's going to hurt."

I look into the dog's eyes. She is as stupid as a barrel of toes. Galaxies of nothing are going on in her eyes.

I get up.

"I'm going to talk to Mum," I explain. The dog remains under my bed, looking, as always, deeply nervous about being a dog. I track Mum down on the toilet. She's now eight months pregnant, and holding the sleeping one-year old Cheryl while trying to do a wee.

I sit on the edge of the bath.

"Mum?" I say.

For some reason, I think I am allowed only one question about this. One shot at the "menstrual cycle conversation."

"Yes?" she answers. Even though she is doing a wee and holding a sleeping baby, she is also sorting out a whites wash from the washing basket.

"You know - my period?" I whisper.

"Yes?" she says.

"Will it hurt?" I ask.

Mum thinks for a minute.

"Yeah," she says, in the end. "But it's okay."

The baby then starts crying, so she never explains why it's okay. It remains unexplained.

Three weeks later, my period starts. I find it to be a deeply cheerful event. It starts in the car on the way to Central Library in town, and I have to walk all around the nonfiction section for half an hour, desperately hoping it won't show, before Dad takes us all home again.

"My first period started: yuk," I write in my diary.

"I don't think Judy Garland ever had a period," I tell the dog, unhappily, later that night. I am watching myself cry in a small hand mirror. "Or Cd Charisma. Or Gene Kelly."

The bag of Pennywise sanitary napkins my mum keeps on the back of the bathroom door has become my business now, too. I feel a sad jealousy of all my younger siblings who are still "outside the bag." The napkins are thick and cheap - stuck into my knickers, they feel like a mattress between my legs.

"It feels like a mattress between my legs," I tell Caz.

We're playing one of our Sindy games. Four hours in and Caz's Sindy, Bonnie, is secretly murdering everyone on a luxury cruise ship.

My Sindy, Layla, is trying to solve the mystery. The one-legged Action Man, Bernard, is dating both of them simultaneously.

We argue constantly over the ownership of Bernard, even though he actually belongs to Eddie. Neither of us want our Sindy to be single.

"A horrible, thick mattress," I continue. "Like in The Princess and the Pea."

"How long are they?" Caz asks.

Ten minutes later, and six Pennywise sanitary napkins are laid out, like a dormitory, with Sindys sleeping on them.

"Well, this is lucky!" I say. "Like when we found out that a Brussels sprout looks exactly like a Sindy cabbage. See, Caz - this is the bright side of menstruation!"

Because the sanitary napkins are cheap, they shred between my thighs when I walk, and become ineffective and leaky. I give up walking for the duration of my period. My first period lasts three months. I think this is perfectly normal. I faint quite regularly. I become so anemic my finger and toenails become very pale blue. I don't tell Mum, because I've asked my question about periods. Now I just have to get on with them.

The blood on the sheets is depressing - not dramatic and red, like a murder, but brown and tedious, like an accident. It looks like I am rusty inside and am now breaking. In an effort to avoid hand washing stains out every morning, I take to stuffing huge bundles of toilet paper in my knickers, along with the useless sanitary napkins, and lying very, very still all night. Sometimes there are huge blood clots, which look like raw liver. I presume this is the lining of my womb, coming off in inch-thick slices, and that this is just how visceral menstruation is. It all adds to a dreary sense that something terribly wrong is going on, but that it is against the rules of the game to ever mention it. Frequently, I think about all the women through history who've had to deal with this ferocious bullshit with just rags and cold water.

No wonder women have been oppressed by men for so long, I think, scouring my knickers with a nail brush and coal-tar soap in the bathroom. Getting dried blood out of cotton is a bitch. We were all too busy scrubbing to agitate for the vote until the twin sink was invented.

Even though she's two years younger than me, Caz starts her period six months after me - just as I'm starting my second one. She comes crying into my bedroom when everyone else is asleep and whispers the awful words, "My period's started."

I show her the bag of sanitary napkins on the back of the bath bathroom door and tell her what to do.

"Put them in your knickers, and don't walk for three months," I say. "It's easy."

"Will it hurt?" she asks, eyes wide.

"Yes," I say in an adult and noble manner. "But it's okay."

"Why is it okay?" she asks.

"I don't know," I say.

"Well, why are you saying it, then?" she asks.

"I don't know."

"Jesus. Why do you bother talking? The stuff that comes out of your mouth."

Caz gets horrific cramps - she spends her periods in the bedroom with the curtains drawn, covered in hot water bottles, shouting "Fuck off" at anyone who tries to come into the room. As part of being a hippie, my mother doesn't "believe" in painkillers and urges us to research herbal remedies. We read that sage is supposed to help and sitting in bed eating handfuls of sage and onion stuffing, crying. Neither of us can believe that we're going to have to put up with this for the next 30 years.

"I don't want children anyway," Caz says. "So I am getting nothing out of this whatsoever. I want my entire reproductive system taken out and replaced with spare lungs, for when I start smoking. I want that option. This is pointless."

At this juncture, it seems there is absolutely nothing to recommend being a woman. Sex hormones are a bitch that have turned me from a blithe child into a bleeding, weeping, fainting washer-woman. These hormones do not make me feel feminine: every night, I lie in bed feeling wretched, and the bulge of my sanitary napkin in my knickers looks like a cock.

I take everything off, sadly, while I get my nightie out of the drawer. When I turn around again, the dog has slunk out from under the bed and started to eat my bloody sanitary napkin. There are bits of shredded, red cotton all over the floor, and my knickers are hanging out of her mouth. She stares at me, desperately.

"Oh, God - your dog's a lesbian vampire," Caz says from her bed, turning over to sleep.

I go to retrieve my knickers, and faint.

In the midst of this hormonal gloom, however, the cavalry finally arrives, over the hill, jangling its spurs, with epaulettes shining in the sun: my green library card. Now I'm 13, I can get adult books out of the library, without having to borrow my parents' cards. And that means I can get secret books out. Dirty books. Books with sex in them.

"I've been having these dreams," I tell the dog as we walk to the library. The library is on the other side of the Green - a gigantic, desolate stretch of grass, where one must be constantly on the lookout for the Yobs. It doesn't do to boldly walk in the middle of it - this leaves one exposed. You must stick to the outer edges, near the houses, so that if you get attacked the people who live in the houses can get a good view of you getting your head kicked in without having to fetch their binoculars.

"Dreams about ... men," I continue. I look at the dog. The dog looks back at me. I think the dog deserves to know the whole truth of what is going on here. I owe her that much, at least. "I'm in love with Chevy Chase," I tell the dog, in a sudden, joyful burst. "I saw him in the video to Paul Simon's 'You Can Call Me Al,' from the 1986 Graceland album, on Warner Bros., and I just can't stop thinking about him. I had this dream where he kissed me, and his mouth felt exciting. I'm going to ask Dad if we can get The Three Amigos out of the video shop on Friday."

Requesting The Three Amigos from the video shop will be a bold move - the next video for rental has already been earmarked as Howard the Duck. I will have to pull a lot of fancy footwork but it will be worth it. I have not told the dog yet but the thought of kissing Chevy Chase has made me so excited that yesterday I listened to "You Can Call Me Al" 16 times on repeat, imagining him touching my face while Paul Simon plays the bass solo. I am so hot for Chevy. I have even imagined what my first line to him will be - the one that will capture his heart.

"Chevy Chase?" I will say, at a party very closely modeled on the ones I've seen on Dynasty. "Any relation to Cannock Chase?" Cannock Chase is just off the A5 to Stafford. LA born movie star and comedian Chevy is going to both get, and love, this joke. Of course, I have had crushes before. Well, one. It didn't go very well. When I was seven, I saw an episode of Buck Rogers and fell in love with that dumb American space cowboy, so obviously based on Han Solo they might as well have called him San Holo and had him ride around in the Fillennium Malcon with Bewchacca. As the new love chemicals rushed through me - Bucknesium and Rogerstonin - I discovered what love is and found that it's just feeling very ... interested. More interested than I had been about anything before.

Excerpted from How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran. Copyright © 2012 by Caitlin Moran. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Prologue: The Worst Birthday Ever 1

Chapter 1 I Start Bleeding! 15

Chapter 2 I Become Furry! 41

Chapter 3 I Don't Know What To Call My Breasts! 57

Chapter 4 I Am A Feminist! 71

Chapter 5 I Need A Bra! 89

Chapter 6 I Am Fat! 103

Chapter 7 I Encounter Some Sexism! 119

Chapter 8 I Am In Love! 143

Chapter 9 I Go Lap-dancing! 165

Chapter 10 I Get Married! 177

Chapter 11 I Get Into Fashion! 195

Chapter 12 Why You Should Have Children 217

Chapter 13 Why You Shouldn't Have Children 235

Chapter 14 Role Models And What We Do With Them 247

Chapter 15 Abortion 269

Chapter 16 Intervention 285

Postscript 297

Acknowledgements 311

What People are Saying About This

Zoe Heller

“Caitlin Moran is a feminist heroine for our times. I can’t wait to give this book to my daughters.”

Holloway McCandless

“As funny and careerist as Tina Fey’s Bossypants, as divulging as Ayelet Waldman’s Bad Mother and as earthy as Cheryl Strayed’s Wild.”

Jenny Lawson

“Caitlin Moran taught me more about being a woman than being a woman did. I’m pretty sure I had testicles before I read this book.”

Heller McAlpin

“How funny is Caitlin Moran’s neo-feminist manifesto and memoir, How to Be a Woman? Don’t read it with a full bladder….You could spend a whole book group session flagging favorite lines…..There’s some comfort in Moran’s book coming out so soon after Nora Ephron’s death.”

Ayelet Waldman

“Caitlin Moran is the profane, witty and wonky best friend I wish I had. She’s the feminist rock star we need right now; How to Be a Woman is an hilarious delight.”

Jenn Doll

“There is a good reason for [its success]: it is pretty phenomenal….[Moran] wrote the book in just 5 months….Chances are you’ll read it in far less time than that, turning down the corners of extra-resonating pages to come back to later.”

Shannon Carlin

“Her arguments are hilarious and spot on….This isn’t a self-help guide, and Moran’s not really telling you how to be a woman. Instead, she’s giving you permission to laugh: at ourselves, at her, and at anyone who think there’s only one way to be a woman.”

Maureen Corrigan

“It is bracing in this season of losing [Nora] Ephron to discover a younger feminist writer who scrimmages with the patriarchy and drop kicks zingers with comic flair….A must-read for anyone curious to find out just how very funny a self-proclaimed ‘strident feminist’ can be.”

Peggy Orenstein

“Caitlin Moran is so fabulous, so funny, so freshly feminist. I don’t want to be like her—I want to be her. But if I can’t, at least I can relish her book. You will, too.”


Jenny Lawson, author of Let's Pretend This Never Happened,
Caitlin Moran, author of How To Be a Woman

Jenny Lawson: In the first chapter of your book you use the words “irascible,” “subjugated,” “portentously,” and “nil desperandum.” Do you think you're smarter than me?

Caitlin Moran: There's no WAY I'm smarter than you, because you have never smoked so much marijuana you tried to get a stoned wasp and a worm to fight by putting them in a jar together.

Lawson: Up until two days ago I thought that Germaine Greer and Greer Garson were the same people. Am I going to have my feminist card revoked?

Moran: It's okay! NO AMERICANS KNOW WHO GERMAINE GREER IS! NEITHER DO EUROPEANS! She appears to be a "Britain only" femnomenon (I hope you've seen what I've done there. Made a very ugly portmanteau word.) I've found out that in Europe, you have to translate "Germaine Greer" as "Simone de Beauvoir." They get it then. And THEN you tell them about how Greer appeared on the cover of Oz magazine with her marmoset on full display, and their minds get blown all over again.

Lawson: Is there anything you've written that you wish you could go back and change?

Moran: I honestly wish I'd put more shagging in. I REALLY want to write pornography. Beautiful filthy hot porn in which chicks get their rocks off in beautifully decorated rooms and/or a hayrick during the Harvest.

Lawson: If you could be anything in the world, what would you be?

Moran: I would be THE PERSON IN A BAR BUYING YOU A JUG OF MARGARITAS, JENNY LAWSON. Stop living in another country! I want to take you to a certain club in East London where they have a pool on the roof, and we jump in, pissed. When it's only 6pm.

Lawson: What part of your book are you most proud of?

CM: LITERALLY all of it - I tried to write it with such good heart, as a love-letter to all the ladies in the world wondering if it's just THEM thinking this is all bullshit. IT NEVER IS! WE'RE ALL THINKING IT! But, aside from that, remembering that my sister called my dog "a lesbian vampire" when it ate my sanitary pad. The whole thing was just WRONG.

Caitlin Moran, author of How To Be a Woman,
Jenny Lawson, author of Let's Pretend This Never Happened

Caitlin Moran: Do you feel you've ever actually gone too far? Is there something you wouldn't write about?

Jenny Lawson: Surprisingly, I do have a lot of boundaries, even considering how filter-less I am about myself. I don't write other people's stories and I don't write things that I think will hurt anyone in the long run.

Caitlin Moran: Would you actually like it if the world changed so much you were considered normal?

Jenny Lawson: If the world changed enough that I would be considered normal then that would mean that everyone else in the world was dysfunctionally weird and vaguely dangerous. Even my gynecologist. Um…no. I don't think I'd like that at all.

Caitlin Moran: Which writers did you read and go "I could steal/use/love what they're doing there"?

Jenny Lawson: Dorothy Parker. I want to go back in time and kidnap her and feed her martinis while I take credit for all of her work. That's not crazy. Probably.

Caitlin Moran: If you could have a stuffed animal doing anything, what would it be? Would you be freaked out if someone made you a Jenny Lawson Squirrel, or Raccoon?

Jenny Lawson: I want a tiny (died of old age) mouse with curlers in her hair and a blowdryer in her hand. Or maybe a small raccoon in jams just to remind me of my childhood.

Caitlin Moran: If the internet didn't exist, what would you do with your time?

Jenny Lawson: I'd probably invent the internet. Starting with twitter.

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How to Be a Woman 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 96 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a terrific, provocative and thought provoking book on feminisim and all things, "woman," in general; however, it is not for everyone's tastes. ***If you are easily offended by four letter words on a broad, or body-specific basis--you'll probably want to stay away. Moran is an intelligent, articulate writer, but she gleefully embraces her vulgarities, even defending her use of one particularly offensive word. While the language can be blunt, it simply comes across as being HER, her personality and her view of womanhood; for me, it did not come across as a blatant attempt to be shocking--it's just who she is, her experience. I found it alternately appropriate, funny and question-raising; I had no problem with it--but some readers might. ***As Moran is English, based in London and the book was originally published there--there are many references to British personalities, pop culture and every day life that some readers will not be familiar with. If it's bothersome, be prepared to do some Googling. ***A feminist-treatise, this is also a memoir; Moran is "no holds barred" on her personal revelations. At times, this reads as "TMI" with raw, humiliating, cringe-worthy recounts of her coming of age: as one of 8 kids she relates, with brutal honesty, the traumas of being welfare-poor to the point her hand-me-downs included her mother's old underpants and the stifling lack of privacy. ***Her sister, Caz, emerges as a prize scene-stealing supporting character--some of the best lines are from her ***Moran is a wickedly funny, highly intelligent writer and thinker; don't assume because this book is funny, it's not serious. It tackles everything from body image/hair/functions, to sex, marriage, kids and abortion. It is a perfect read for discussion with your closest friends as Moran talks about these subjects in intimate ways that many of us wish we could emmulate. I find her views refreshing and bold--and comforting: it reminds us that being a woman--struggling to come into our womanhood--is traumatic, often gross, humilating and heartbreaking. Yet Moran reminds us we are not alone in our "female" struggles and ultimately, to find joy, in who and what we are. Not for everyone's taste, but for those who jump in--I think you will enjoy the ride--this is a worthwhile read that absolutely needs to be discussed, laughed over, and debated.
SC_Paula More than 1 year ago
Caitlin Moran's How To Be a Woman is wildly funny and at the same time a great introduction to a modern idea of what it means to be a feminist. To quote the author, "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." Moran tackles everything from menstruation to masturbation, hair removal, underwear size, and abortion in a very honest and hilarious fashion. As a side note, I learned about this book when Caitlin and Jenny Lawson aka The Blogess (who is also ridiculously funny and the author of Let's Pretend This Never Happened) interviewed each other.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is an unapologetic feminist rant, wrapped in an entertaining autobiography. It treats some very important issues with thought-provoking comments, but also is peppered with a good deal of humor. There are some really important take-away messages that nicely summarize the situation for women and our place in society. I really liked how she suggested that asking simple questions could help assess important problems like harassment and oppression/inequality: "is that polite?" and "are the men doing this?" There is a lot of strong language that may be off-putting to some readers, and as the author is from the U.K. there is some usage that may be unfamiliar to US readers. In addition, there is quite a bit of slang that may be unfamiliar to readers who are not as steeped in popular culture, but it does not interfere with the reading of the book (and can be entertaining to look up). This is the sort of book that our daughters should read and consider, but it might be better (depending on the daughter's age) if we didn't know they were reading it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For me, this book was a revelation. It didn't move anyone out of my "top ten" list, but I hope my daughters read it when they are 18ish. they are strident feminists at age 6 and 9. ya know....because that's how all kids are strident feminists. which is the exact thing about this book that causes me to call it a revelation. feminism isn't something you aspire too, or want. being a feminist isn't something you become. it's the opposite of feminism that's unnatural and enforced on us by people that don't have our best interests at heart. we are all born with the tools. they get taken away. this book helped me realize that I don't want those tools taken away from my kids. for that reason, I think *you* should read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Everyone, male or female, should read this book. Funny, fierce, and relevant as hell. The cover says it's a British Bossypants, but its much funnier, and more important, than that. Mixes memoir, humor, and polemic in a wonderfully readable way. Yeah, if you're squeamish and too precious for profanity it probably won't be your cup of tea. But women's bodies and lives are messy and real, and the way women's bodies and lives are cheapened and commodified, especially by the pronography industry, deserves to be called the bull**** that it is. Caitlin Moran comes across as someone you'd love to have a pint or two with down at the pub.
kd-did47 More than 1 year ago
No, it's not Jenny Lawson - she's a different kind of funny. This has some similar moments BUT is more of memoir/polemic. Happy to see feminism is alive and well in the world. Definitely worth reading!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hilarious, she hits the nail on the head with her witty and somtimes sobering insights!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Moran is hilarious and accurate about the journey to being a woman. I find myself giggling at her childhood stories as i think back to my own experiences when growing up. Love love love!
enigmaticblue More than 1 year ago
I very much enjoyed this book. It was funny and smart, and I wish I'd read it when I was 18, and still wondering what it meant to be a woman. This isn't a how-to guide; it's an honest memoir and a hard look at what society tells us being a woman is all about.
Charlize_Manson More than 1 year ago
As a young woman who is just starting to make her way in the world and figure out what it really MEANS to be a woman, this book made a perfect gift for me. While it is definitely not for everyone,and not an feminist manifesto like most people had hopes for, it';s a very honest, anecdotal memoir that taught me a lot about things no woman in my life ever really bothered to teach me. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gee I wonder if i can learn Something from this book guess ill have to read an d find out
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One woman's funny and honest (sometimes painfully so) account of her experience as a woman. If you are on the prudish side this book is not for you.
Anonymous 1 days ago
jennyandaustin on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I really enjoyed this book. Not as much a book on feminism as an autobiography encompassing the crazy stuff women are expected to put up with - like high heel shoes, pain of childbirth, owning a 'statement bag' etc...Caitlin Moran is so funny. She really tells it how it is to be a woman in the 2010s. It was a modern female version of Adrian Moles Diaries. It really made me laugh out loud. Loved it
clfisha on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The problem with this kind of book is that preaching to the converted can be boring so it helps that its a mix of memoir and polemic and Moran is one of the funniest women columnists out there, although I mostly just follow her tweets and giggle. The memoir bits are good, she is funny but also brave and it helps she has had a very interesting life from her chaotic alternative childhood to becoming an award winning journalist. Ok so it's not a serious academic text, just one women's passionate opinion but agree or not they can be interesting.Still though sometimes I just got bored, its a bit too periodic in nature (each chapter dealing with a topic) and some topics were just alien to me, I feel no need to conform through clothes or work, I have no desire to go for a Brazilian and celebratory gossip passes me by. So to be honest I usually wished she would get back to the memoir and therefore I cannot wholly recommend it, it¿s often an interesting and fun book but your mileage might vary.
HanGerg on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Frequently hilarious, often moving, and with some pertinent and thought provoking things to say about modern womanhood, but........Being a long time Caitlin Moran fan, I found this book just a little bit disappointing. She is one of the best columnists currently at work in th UK media, in my opinion - certainly the funniest - and I just had slightly higher expectations of what she could pull off given the longer format of a book to sink her teeth into. Unfortunately she doesn't really have a coherent argument to make here, so really it could have just been published as a series of longer than usual articles. It certainly isn't "The Female Eunuch re-written from a bar stool" as the back suggests. Actually, one of the things it does achieve is making you want to go out and buy a copy of that book, as Moran cites it so often, clearly still in awe of the work that inspired her to become a feminist in the first place. That said, there probably aren't enough books out there that name check Germaine Greer repeatedly, but also manage to be hilarious, which is what I think she was aiming for. If you aren't already aware of her writing then this book will introduce you to a uniquely funny and wise take on feminism. For people who are already fan though, I think this book might just fall short of what we believed her to be capable of.
PennyAnne on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This book surprised me - for some reason I was not expecting a semi-serious feminist treatise (I knew nothing about the author before picking up this book). But having said that I found this book to be witty, engaging and thought provoking. I loved that Germaine Greer is one of her heroes as she has always been one of mine. I loved that Moran is basically arguing for people to treat each other with politeness which, if it happened, would instantly advance the cause of women everywhere. 'Feminism' seems to have become a dirty word in some quarters and I think this book could do a lot to change that - the author's modern, humorous views may be just what is needed to get women to acknowledge that yes, they are feminists, and proud of it!
mairangiwoman on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Yes, I agree that this was a great read and it's not often I laugh out loud while reading - am I choosing the wrong books?But I agree with all the other people who have pointed out the discrepancies or disappointments after reading the entire book. Possibly better to read her columns or articles on a one off basis. someone said the chapters were well honed - well some of them went on a bit too long! I did love most of it especially the reasons why one shouldn't bother with an expensive wedding.
jody on LibraryThing 8 months ago
To date, my feminist reading has been basic. Greer and French and a little Jong ... all women considerably older than myself. So Caitlin Moran, a 30 something, British feminist/journalist/mother certainly opened my mind up to what being a modern woman is like today. Albeit one with a slightly twisted sense of humour!As with most women writers of a suffragette nature, I don't agree with all she has to say(Greer as some interesting points to make, but she does tend to go the extreme), but Moran's chapters on bras and shoes are hilarious, so I forgive her more superfluous ideas(like tasting menstrual blood). How To Be a Woman is not just feminist jottings though. It begins with Moran's childhood, packed with biographical memories and life-forming experiences that take her from a frumpy 13 year old to a confident, but not necessarily driven professional. As with all good feminists, she makes no apologies for any of her decisions or acts of lunacy. Thankfully! What she does do is entertain with a comically honest approach to life on the female side. If you don't take your liberation views too seriously, you'll certainly enjoy this book.
jbrubacher on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Using her own life as a starting point, the author explores the meaning and expectations of womanhood from puberty through to her mid-thirties. She defines feminism as a desire for equality and uses humour to reveal an honest perspective.I don't agree with everything she says, but this is exactly right--not all women, or all people, are the same. I do want many people to read this book (men *and* women) so we can all gain a greater understanding of who we really are rather than who we're supposed to be, or who we think we're supposed to be.It's funny and illuminating, and very very British.
LyzzyBee on LibraryThing 8 months ago
06 Jul 2011I'm not entirely sure what I thought about this book. A funny, observant but possibly slightly over-exaggerated memoir of poverty in Wolverhampton, rock writing in London and marriage; the parts on childbirth and abortion were excellently, very powerfully and affectingly done. The feminist bits a) made assumptions about most women (planning weddings from the age of 5, always shopping, knowing what to buy) and b) preached about what to do in order to be a Good Feminist without acknowledging that - surely - many of her readers already would be.It was very rude in places - I slightly blushed to read it on the bus - but I could see the background in Woman Words Mary Daly type stuff, in wishging to reclaim and celebrate certain words, Simone de Beauvoir made it de rigueur to talk about our Biology as Destiny - and, after all, I partly chose Germaine Greer's "Female Eunuch" as my Sixth Form prize for being Library Prefect because I had already read it and knew it was quite saucy about certain things, but I just wonder how people without a grounding in previous feminist writings will take this (which sounds pretentious, I know) and the research done on Twitter did make me giggle - surely some people just made that stuff up!I'm glad someone's out there engaging with feminism, and it was a brave book (but amidst all the personal details I don't think we ever lost our virginity, even though we went through pretty well everything else with the author), but I would have liked that acknowledgement of Moran's near-contemporaries (like me!) and I do wonder if it's actually converted anyone to the Cause yet. But some great read-out-loud moments, too.So, I still don't know what I thought about it, but I'm glad I read it.
Greatrakes on LibraryThing 8 months ago
A book that made me laugh out loud many times, it is part autobiography part manifesto, and it's the autobiography parts that had me hooting. All the stories have the feel of having been artfully honed, but who cares when they are so good. I was rather scared by the part where she describes women as leading strange double lives in their heads, through which they might, for example, weave elaborate stories around a man in the office, and when annoyed with their virtual version of you might easily take it out on you - she's joking, I expect.My daughter, aged eight, was bemused to find me reading a book called 'How to be a Woman' - I told her I'd save it for her to read when she is older.
laurapickle on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Laugh out loud funny in places, horrifying in others. Sometimes loses its way switching between memoir and criticism but a fantastic read.
mumfie on LibraryThing 8 months ago
managed about 50 pages but gave up before I threw up. No wit, insight or anything remotely amusing.
TooBusyReading on LibraryThing 8 months ago
After a sketchy start, I eventually decided that I love this book.The beginning made me...well, just uncomfortable. All those bad words, and that intimate stuff about teenage discoveries and the attendant angst. Then there was the bit about those bad words, and one word in particular, that we should claim back, that we should desensitize. I'm talking language that I never heard until I was well into adulthood, that I could not even consider uttering in front of my mother.And then I started laughing. This book is really hilarious. Laugh out loud funny, as cliched as that is. Even the generous use of capitalization and exclamation marks, something that normally drives me batty, were funny, very tongue-in-cheek. Funny enough to keep me completely entertained while the author segued to the serious stuff with hardly a notice by me. The chapter on abortion was not funny but was so soul-baringly honest that I found it very touching.The message is especially important too. I am probably not mainstream audience for this book, being older (and not British) so I didn't get some of the references. And I've heard most of this feminism stuff before and am old enough to not take the accomplishments of early feminists lightly. Nothing terribly enlightening in this book. What is wonderful is that all of this, all the feminist stances and those that seem almost the opposite of feminism, were strung together in such a smart, funny, and, against all odds, respectful way.I don't always have the same opinions as the author, but most of them are spot-on from my point of view. I recommend this book for anyone able to deal with bad language, explicit descriptions, and a great deal of honesty.I was given a copy of this book by the publisher.