So the only other autobiography I have read was Morrissey’s. Needless to say Caitlin Moran’s was a bit different. She tells her life story from growing up in a council house in Wolverhampton to becoming a music journalist at a young age through to the columnist she is today. I knew very little about her before I started How to be a Woman but I was persuaded to read it as I had been told it was a good view point on modern day feminism.
Having read it though, I would say it was much more about class as a social issue than feminism. Yes, Moran does bring up some good feminist points but what stuck me most of all was the way she came from such a poor background. Rather than call this a feminist book I would describe it much more as a social commentary. The feminism Moran describes is a little narrow minded and focus much more on ‘1st world problems’. It is also made very light and accessible which I don’t necessarily think is a bad thing but leaves out quite a few rather important issues.
At its heart this is a memoir, Moran just expresses some of her opinions which happen to be feminist. She also tackles political and social issues with the same slightly light hearted mockery. She describes her childhood with fondness and nostalgia despite the fact it sounds very much to me like something out of Morrissey’s autobiography; just a little less melodramatic and Dickensian. What she does tackle sensitively and honestly is abortion. It was one of my favourite chapters and the only part which felt heavy, as if she wasn’t afraid to shy away from difficult issues and I commend her for the candid way she talked about her experience.
This book is also really funny. It is honest and a completely honest women is hard to come by. Quite often women shy away from certain topics for fear they shall be viewed as crude and unladylike and therefore unattractive to men. For Moran this concept doesn’t seem to exist and it is very refreshing. I laughed my head of at times because I felt like “yes! That is so true but I would never have admitted it in a million years!”. It is like sharing an embarrassing secret with your best friend and laughing about your own stupidity/misfortune/shame.
What I love most about this book is it is the kind of book that makes men uncomfortable. It talks graphically about sex, genitals, childbirth, periods, waxing etc. and a lot of the men I know can’t even touch a box of tampons let alone think about their use. This book takes a lot of the mystery out of how to be a woman and even at the age of 20 I learnt things I didn’t know about being female. That’s why I recommend it, it doesn’t break any new ground on feminism, but it is funny and relatable and honest.
Would recommend to: read if you want to debunk some of the less clear aspects of womanhood.