How To Be A Woman

By Caitlin Moran

Source: BorrowedHow To Be A Woman

My Rating: 4 / 5

I’d heard a lot about this book before I finally got my hands on a copy (thanks Michelle!). I was eager to see what the buzz was about, particularly as I don’t read that much non-fiction, and was in the mood for something a bit different from my usual reading material.

Here is the Goodreads summary:

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 female rights and empowerment are essential issues not only for women today but also for society itself.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I started this, only that I’d heard it was hilarious. As a Canadian, I hadn’t heard of Caitlin Moran before, but I was drawn into her story-telling from the first chapter, reading about her childhood and her family. Moran definitely has a way with words, and reading about growing up in her family was fascinating.

This book is definitely funny. I wasn’t laughing out loud non-stop like I (perhaps naively) thought I would, but I did laugh and smile and nod in agreement throughout.

I loved Moran’s notion of how to tell if you’ve encountered sexism: ask yourself, Is this polite? I loved its simplicity and immediately found myself applying it as I went about my day.

The chapters that made me really sit up and pay attention were the chapters on why to have, and to not have, children. I have never really wanted children, and neither has my husband. I’m still fairly certain that I don’t want to have kids, but the older I get, the more I find myself thinking about it, wanting to make sure I’m making the right decision for me and my husband. Moran’s no-holds-barred account of parenting was refreshing. She said a lot of things I realized I’d said to myself, and that I wanted to hear from other people. I was almost in tears reading these chapters, because they spoke to something so personal and important – but something the public at large feels very comfortable asking women about. I have been married almost two years and am asked frequently when (not if) my husband and I will have children. These chapters alone made this book an incredibly worthwhile, rewarding read for me.

This book certainly gave me a lot to think about! What does it mean to me to be a woman, a feminist, etc.  I’m sure there are some very interesting discussions to be had with others who’ve read this! While I can’t say I agree with Moran on everything, I was still interested in her take on some of the issues she discussed.

I liked this book but it wasn’t one I could read quickly, perhaps because it did give me so much food for thought that I had to walk away from it for a few days at a time and take it all in. Overall though, I enjoyed and recommend this one.

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