How to Be a Woman

    Whether you are a young woman or an old man, or an old woman or a young man, or somewherein the middle, you must read Caitlin Moran’s ‘How To Be A Woman.’ Don’t be put off by the title,which implies this is a step-by-step guide to femininity, a bit like a recipe or one of those patronisingself-help books that claim to solve life issues in six easy steps. ‘How To Be A Woman’ is instead an autobiographical account of what it’s like to be a woman, making both social and trivial commentsabout the female experience in the twentieth and twentieth-first centuries.

     

    Moran’s book debut has too many ‘best bits.’ What stands out in memory are her parallel

    explorations of two key female figures, Katie Price and Lady Gaga; her expressive colloquial style of

    wording (she litters the text with exclamation marks and abbreviations) and the concluding chapter

    that conveys the experience of abortion.

    Moran uses the chapters of her book to map out her life. She begins with her childhood, in which she experienced sexism from male schoolmates, and progresses to the complexities of married life with children. This narrative trajectory is simple and effective, as it naturally pin points key rites of

    passage during a woman’s progression through life. Furthermore, it means female readers will be able to associate with at least one chapter of the book, depending on their own stage in life.

    Which leads on to addressing the elephant in the room, or book. Whilst there are bits about clothes, family, work and socialising, yes, there are some pretty graphic bits about having the painters in, losing one’s cherry and, most poignantly, choosing to give up a child. In a nutshell, this is not one to give your Gran. But Moran handles these issues in an accessible, honest and harmless way. For example, she punctuates her writing with humorous clauses making her writing very human and very un-put-downable.

    Male readers might wish to skim read the aforesaid subject matters but, importantly, Moran

    avoids the cliché of a feminist work being angry, straight-talking, aggressive and critical of man.

    Her manifesto does not have a downer on men at all. In fact, her light-hearted yet socially accurate

    reflection of the true meaning of feminism is that, ultimately, feminism is about being nice to one

    another – an ethos that is so very simple and so very true.

    I cannot sing the praises of this book enough. I will be buying a copy for each of my girlfriends and

    will be telling as many guys about it as possible.

    Reviewed by Lucy Richards

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