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Though they have the vote and the Pill and haven't been burned as witches since 1727, life isn't exactly a stroll down the catwalk for modern women. They are beset by uncertainties and questions: Why are they supposed to get Brazilians? Why do bras hurt? Why the incessant talk about babies? And do men secretly hate them?

Caitlin Moran interweaves provocative observations on women's lives with laugh-out-loud funny scenes from her own, from the riot of adolescence to her development as a writer, wife, and mother. With rapier wit, Moran slices right to the truth—whether it's about the workplace, strip clubs, love, fat, abortion, popular entertainment, or children—to jump-start a new conversation about feminism. With humor, insight, and verve, How To Be a Woman lays bare the reasons why female rights and empowerment are essential issues not only for women today but also for society itself.

Topics: Feminism, Abortions, Body Image, Sexism, Sexuality, Marriage, Women's Health, Love, Coming of Age, Family, England, London, Sex, Civil and Political Rights, Essays, Funny, Witty, Poignant, Realistic, First Person Narration, Female Author, 21st Century, and British Author

Published: HarperCollins on Jul 17, 2012
ISBN: 9780062124258
List price: $9.99
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this book was funny and charming. it inspired me to be a bit feminist in my life. I appreciate its honesty and frankness. it was a breath of fresh air to know that it's OK just to not care and be myself. read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Quite an uneven reading experience, a fault I largely blame on the marketing of this book. How to Be a Woman is touted as basically "Feminism--now with jokes!" And that's a concept that I could get onboard with. I would consider myself a feminist, I would consider myself moderately amusing at times, and I would consider myself a fan of Caitlin Moran's white streak in her wild mane--a bit reminiscent of the 90's version of Rogue. So, yes, let's do this! I want to feel empowered as a woman, I want to laugh, and I want to rewatch the X-Men cartoons on Netflix!This was reaffirmed when I heard an NPR interview with Caitlin Moran. She spoke intelligently about a variety of topics facing women and was very humorous in doing so. She sounded like someone I would like: funny, self-deprecating, and smart.So did the book live up to my expectations? Not so much. The main reason is that instead of a funny feminist manifesto, the book is basically a memoir that should have been titled How to Be Caitlin Moran. Not that that is a bad thing as I still find Moran likable, but I generally do not like memoirs. I was expecting a book of ideas. And there are wide swaths of Moran's life that I simply can't relate to. Other than the chapter I Am a Feminist!, there's surprisingly little feminism in the book other than sprinkling the term "strident feminist" in some seemingly incongruous places (such as "But what am I wearing, now? As a strident feminist, how am I dressed?" [202] in the chapter I Get Into Fashion!). As though there's some sort of feminist dress code? It may be simpler to split this up into what I did and did not like about the book, so without further ado:What I Did Like About the Book1. From the chapter on feminism, Moran presents a simple test for discovering whether or not you're a feminist: "So 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" (75). She makes the point that almost every woman in the Western world is a feminist, whether they like being associated with that "dirty word" or not. Even women who say they're not feminists are enjoying the fruits of feminism as there was a time when a woman wasn't allowed to have an opinion, let alone express it. Being in charge of one's reproductive rights is a much larger issue than that of abortion. Deciding for yourself if you want to have one child, fifteen children, or none at all, thank you very much, is a right women haven't traditionally had before. Being able to say "enough already" is certainly a right women should be thankful for as so many women who came before us dropped a kid yearly, preferably sometime between clearing away the breakfast dishes and making supper.2. Moran's funny, unapologetically irreverent take on everything. I didn't always agree with her views, but admired that she had the daring to say them. If there's one thing you can't claim, it's that she's inauthentic.3. Her chapter on marriages. Weddings have become a ridiculously high-priced event that generally makes everyone involved miserable.4. The extremely honest chapter about her own experience with abortion. Agree or disagree with abortion, so many make up their mind without having lived through it or, you know, asking the women of a society what they think. Reading about it from a personal level brings up some interesting points for thought and reflection.5. Moments like this: "This is the first time I've really been out in the world and met adults. Previously, all my socializing took place on the dance floor and in the bathroom of the Raglan, a tiny dark pit populated by fringed, boot-wearing teenagers: essentially a playpen with a bar. Our innocence was obvious--it shone in our faces the same way our teeth glowed white under the UV light. Yes, people were having sex, and fighting, and spreading rumors, and taking drugs--but it was essentially like tiger cubs knocking each other around, claws velveted. We were all equal. There was no calculation or recrimination. Everything was forgotten after a nap" (117). I just like that.What I Did Not Like About the Book1. Dear GOD!!!!! I did not like all of the FREAKING UNNECESSARY CAPITALIZATION that made me feel like I was reading an unhinged TEENAGER'S DIARY!!! And for the love of all that is punctuation, would someone please remove the exclamation mark from Moran's keyboard? Early in the book, I thought this was just an affectation meant to show how the teenage Moran thought and felt; however, it continued, unrelentingly throughout the entire book. Every single chapter title ended with an exclamation. 2. There were some squirm worthy moments: I did not enjoy reading about Moran's early experiences with menstruation. I did not enjoy the suggestion that one should taste one's menstrual blood. I did not enjoy the suggestion that one should name one's vagina and one's breasts. Granted, I'm the type of person who perpetually lives in fear of TMI--Caitlin Moran clearly does not.3. The suggestion that Lady GaGa is a feminist and should be placed upon a pedestal. To me, a feminist icon should be one who presents ideas. GaGa strikes me more as someone who is reaping the benefits of feminism, but not adding much new to the conversation. She is definitely a polarizing lightning rod, but more in the realm of image and sexuality. She definitely confronts and shatters stereotypes, but beyond that adds little to the conversation. 4. The fact that there's so little feminism in a book supposedly about feminism.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This got huge amounts of publicity when it was published - Moran was hailed as the successor to Germaine Greer. A comparison which is totally misplaced. Greer is an intellectual who knows how to support her arguments however provocative. Moran is a pale imitation. I couldn't read beyond the first 20 pages.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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Reviews

this book was funny and charming. it inspired me to be a bit feminist in my life. I appreciate its honesty and frankness. it was a breath of fresh air to know that it's OK just to not care and be myself.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Quite an uneven reading experience, a fault I largely blame on the marketing of this book. How to Be a Woman is touted as basically "Feminism--now with jokes!" And that's a concept that I could get onboard with. I would consider myself a feminist, I would consider myself moderately amusing at times, and I would consider myself a fan of Caitlin Moran's white streak in her wild mane--a bit reminiscent of the 90's version of Rogue. So, yes, let's do this! I want to feel empowered as a woman, I want to laugh, and I want to rewatch the X-Men cartoons on Netflix!This was reaffirmed when I heard an NPR interview with Caitlin Moran. She spoke intelligently about a variety of topics facing women and was very humorous in doing so. She sounded like someone I would like: funny, self-deprecating, and smart.So did the book live up to my expectations? Not so much. The main reason is that instead of a funny feminist manifesto, the book is basically a memoir that should have been titled How to Be Caitlin Moran. Not that that is a bad thing as I still find Moran likable, but I generally do not like memoirs. I was expecting a book of ideas. And there are wide swaths of Moran's life that I simply can't relate to. Other than the chapter I Am a Feminist!, there's surprisingly little feminism in the book other than sprinkling the term "strident feminist" in some seemingly incongruous places (such as "But what am I wearing, now? As a strident feminist, how am I dressed?" [202] in the chapter I Get Into Fashion!). As though there's some sort of feminist dress code? It may be simpler to split this up into what I did and did not like about the book, so without further ado:What I Did Like About the Book1. From the chapter on feminism, Moran presents a simple test for discovering whether or not you're a feminist: "So 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" (75). She makes the point that almost every woman in the Western world is a feminist, whether they like being associated with that "dirty word" or not. Even women who say they're not feminists are enjoying the fruits of feminism as there was a time when a woman wasn't allowed to have an opinion, let alone express it. Being in charge of one's reproductive rights is a much larger issue than that of abortion. Deciding for yourself if you want to have one child, fifteen children, or none at all, thank you very much, is a right women haven't traditionally had before. Being able to say "enough already" is certainly a right women should be thankful for as so many women who came before us dropped a kid yearly, preferably sometime between clearing away the breakfast dishes and making supper.2. Moran's funny, unapologetically irreverent take on everything. I didn't always agree with her views, but admired that she had the daring to say them. If there's one thing you can't claim, it's that she's inauthentic.3. Her chapter on marriages. Weddings have become a ridiculously high-priced event that generally makes everyone involved miserable.4. The extremely honest chapter about her own experience with abortion. Agree or disagree with abortion, so many make up their mind without having lived through it or, you know, asking the women of a society what they think. Reading about it from a personal level brings up some interesting points for thought and reflection.5. Moments like this: "This is the first time I've really been out in the world and met adults. Previously, all my socializing took place on the dance floor and in the bathroom of the Raglan, a tiny dark pit populated by fringed, boot-wearing teenagers: essentially a playpen with a bar. Our innocence was obvious--it shone in our faces the same way our teeth glowed white under the UV light. Yes, people were having sex, and fighting, and spreading rumors, and taking drugs--but it was essentially like tiger cubs knocking each other around, claws velveted. We were all equal. There was no calculation or recrimination. Everything was forgotten after a nap" (117). I just like that.What I Did Not Like About the Book1. Dear GOD!!!!! I did not like all of the FREAKING UNNECESSARY CAPITALIZATION that made me feel like I was reading an unhinged TEENAGER'S DIARY!!! And for the love of all that is punctuation, would someone please remove the exclamation mark from Moran's keyboard? Early in the book, I thought this was just an affectation meant to show how the teenage Moran thought and felt; however, it continued, unrelentingly throughout the entire book. Every single chapter title ended with an exclamation. 2. There were some squirm worthy moments: I did not enjoy reading about Moran's early experiences with menstruation. I did not enjoy the suggestion that one should taste one's menstrual blood. I did not enjoy the suggestion that one should name one's vagina and one's breasts. Granted, I'm the type of person who perpetually lives in fear of TMI--Caitlin Moran clearly does not.3. The suggestion that Lady GaGa is a feminist and should be placed upon a pedestal. To me, a feminist icon should be one who presents ideas. GaGa strikes me more as someone who is reaping the benefits of feminism, but not adding much new to the conversation. She is definitely a polarizing lightning rod, but more in the realm of image and sexuality. She definitely confronts and shatters stereotypes, but beyond that adds little to the conversation. 4. The fact that there's so little feminism in a book supposedly about feminism.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
This got huge amounts of publicity when it was published - Moran was hailed as the successor to Germaine Greer. A comparison which is totally misplaced. Greer is an intellectual who knows how to support her arguments however provocative. Moran is a pale imitation. I couldn't read beyond the first 20 pages.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
managed about 50 pages but gave up before I threw up. No wit, insight or anything remotely amusing.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Moran's breezy delivery can strike one as dismissive of other points of view, but I think that's just the delivery. I found the memoir-ish parts of this book much more interesting than the philosophizing about feminism. Worth a read, no question.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Laugh out loud funny in places, horrifying in others. Sometimes loses its way switching between memoir and criticism but a fantastic read.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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