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September 6, 2012

IconHow to be a Woman: Caitlin Moran and the Modern Feminist

Are you a feminist? That is what Caitlin Moran asks us in her new “part fiction, part memoir” bestseller How to Be a Woman.  Well, one of the many questions she asks about the state of the world where women are concerned, whilst giving her personal account of how she’s coped with the unique issues only us women faces whilst growing from a tiny girl to become fully fledged members of the woman society.  Why am I writing about this? The answer is simple, I believe that all women, girls and ladies alike should pick up a copy and learn How to be a Woman.

I’m not here to tell you about the history of the feminist movements and the waves it came in, from the Suffragettes, to the ladies working in the factories during World War I, to getting the vote, burning bra’s, Cosmopolitan saying we CAN have it all and the women fighting against inequalities that women suffer culturally, in the work place and further afield.  We all know about that don’t we? If not, you should hop over to Google and do a search and educate yourself.  I’m here to say how Caitlin Moran and her new book is a testament to progression of women’s fight to gain equal rights and even surpassing our male counterparts in today’s world.

The term ‘feminism’ has always been a loaded one, and many people don’t want to be associated with a word that’s historically meant you’re a woman who’s a plain and simply a radical.  Before reading the book I never called myself a feminist, even though I’m whole heartedly a feminist through and through.  Whilst reading the book, I came to the chapter named ‘Feminism’ (no messin’) where Caitlin takes you through the history and the platform built for the emancipation of women, where Germaine Greer was at the forefront of the movement in the 1960’s, to the modern day feminists, us girls standing up for our rights without even trying.

We’re seeing a rise in women in what’s considered a male dominion, such as in sports, as CEO’s of global companies, in management rolls, in the garages and under the sinks, in politics and a whole host of other places.  Another thing I’ve personally noticed is that we’re doing that job just as well, or even better!  It’s taken a while for us to get to this point, and there’s still a long way to go, but my goodness, we’ve got a load of ridiculously brilliant female role models to look up to and inspire us.

Part way through the chapter, Caitlin Moran challenges us to get onto a chair and shout at the top of our lungs “I’M A FEMINIST”, and feel that ripple of power surge through our veins and right into our soul.  The personal stories she unfolds through the whole book is inspiring, as she comically explains the awkward and embarrassing trials she’s had to endure as learning curves throughout her life that helped develop her to become the fabulous woman that she is now.  I feel she’s speaking directly to me when she explains about the time she had Lady Gaga’s head on her lap in a seedy nightclub, or when she reveals her personal discovery of what the best methods are to control pubic hair way back when she first hit puberty.  We’ve all been there, and the fact that Caitlin publicly showcases her trying times tackling such relevant issues is so empowering.

So, this leads me to ask you, are you a feminist? Do you realise that you are one? If you’re pro equality, pro women kicking ass, pro women officials in sports overseeing men’s games, pro not letting a man telling you how to act or what to wear, pro making your own decisions and then dealing with the consequences yourself, then you’re a feminist.  I can’t fathom women who wouldn’t want to be a feminist.  I understand there’s no concept of maleist, but we’ve had centuries of men looking out for men, so it’s now our go to look out for each other. Not bitching about each other and being jealous, but being on the same side and high fiving and celebrating girls who are overcoming and excelling.  Not that I’m anti-male, not at all, I’m proud to say I’m lucky to have some of the most special men in the world in my life.  It’s just girls need to recognise our ambitions, realise our abilities and stop putting ourselves and each other down.

Are you a feminist?  I hope you are, and if you want a superb read that comments on modern feminism, make you laugh out loud and give you a sense of pride, then you either run down to the shops and whip that book off the shelf and dive head first into it.  You won’t regret it!

8 Responses to How to be a Woman: Caitlin Moran and the Modern Feminist

  1. Gabrielle says:

    There are plenty of good reasons not to be a feminist, in particular the way that feminists have failed on issues of class, transgender identity, race (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/apr/10/white-feminism-black-woman-womanism), disability, …

  2. fpg says:

    Firstly, I’d like to say that I’m really happy for the above comment.

    Secondly I’d like to say that alot of what Moran has to say is pretty problematic. For example, the following quote which is pretty cissexist/transphobic:

    “Here is the quick way of working out if you’re a feminist. Put your hand in your underpants.
    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.”

    And her condemnation on shaving which is quite frankly just as bad as societys condemnation of not doing so.

    Here’s another good link – http://stfu-moffat.tumblr.com/post/23673487216/on-caitlin-moran-and-feminism

    I think it’s really great that people are talking about feminism on this website and that there is a book that is popular which discusses these issues but I think it’s really important to critique peoples work at the same time as praising it.

  3. Milly Shaw Milly Shaw says:

    Perhaps I’m being a bit stupid, but I don’t get the twitter joke, could someone explain it?

  4. Ffi says:

    There are some opinions I don’t agree with too! Can’t agree with everyone all the time…BUT, how great is it that it’s a hot topic? Think it’s great she’s getting us all talking about it, and some people thinking about it who might not have thought about feminism before :)

  5. Sophie says:

    I don’t actually believe feminists haven’t failed on class, transgender, race and disability because we are all those things. There is no feminist manifesto or big sis who makes the rules – we claim, define and apply feminist politics however we see fit, but I agree the mainstream press, or do I just mean boring old broadsheets and tv, is dominated by a kind of polite middle class feminsm that sometimes makes you want to tear your hair our, or shave it off in an appparently unacceptable fashion. So often feminist columnists are disapproving of discussions about sex. Is it because they’re anxious they’ll detract from our brilliant minds which of couse we still have to keep proving we have.

  6. Sophie says:

    @Gabrielle, after I commented in a big rush I went to your link and totally agree! Thank you.

  7. tracy says:

    I bought this book when i was on a camping trip (it rained alot). I found it really good and gave me a bloody good chuckle.

Ffion Davies

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