Sunday, December 16, 2012

Why I love Caitlin Moran’s book ‘How to be a Woman’

I was looking over a woman's shoulder as the following photo of Hillary Clinton appeared on her computer screen:

Kevin Lamarque / AFP - Getty Images
This particular woman who rarely utters a bad word about anyone and refuses to discuss politics even when probed turned to me, pointed at Hillary’s photo and said:
"She is so ugly."
I was dumbfounded. Not, “I hate her politics” or “She was the worst first lady we’ve ever had or even “She sucks as Secretary of State,” but, “She is ugly.” Seriously! I hesitated a bit before saying, “I think she's been traveling a lot and is probably tired” and quickly changed the subject.

To make matters worse this was the article featured with the photo: 'It pains me': Clinton decries plight of women in male-dominated countries It relayed Hillary’s emotional speech warning there will be "many sacrifices and losses" before daughters were "valued as sons" across the world and included this quote from Hillary:
We are on the right side of history in this struggle, but there will be many sacrifices and losses until we finally reach a point where daughters are valued as sons, where girls are as educated as boys, where women are encouraged and permitted to make their contributions to their families, to their societies just as the men are.
This episode occurred the day after I read Black Girl in Maine’s post Dear retailers, you will not steal my kid's innocence about her difficulties shopping for an affordable age appropriate dress for her seven year old daughter’s upcoming holiday concert. Instead of finding a cute dress appropriate for a seven year old she could only find dresses that were sexualized, designed to show off non-existent curves and inappropriate as hell.

As the afternoon progressed, I couldn’t get these incidents out of my head; how our society continues to value and promote appearance over accomplishments, how women continue to struggle to be seen as equal to men and how being taken seriously in the workplace is still a common topic of conversation amongst professional women in my social circle. 

This brings me to the book I am currently reading: Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman which consists of a series of personal essays all promoting a stand against sexism. Unfortunately for me the book has become unreadable. When Moran mentioned she has of course tasted her own menstrual blood I realized I couldn’t go on. The book is just too crass and vulgar for my tastes.    
Then it occurred to me why I love this book - I am not Caitlin Moran’s target audience. Her audience is the 20 to 30 year old woman who doesn’t believe she needs to be concerned with feminism. If they can find humor is Moran’s writing and actually read her book Moran just might be able to convince them feminism means being equal to boys, having the right to make the same amount of money, the same access to education, to have sexual harassment be a crime and to believe they deserve to be valued for more than just their appearance. If so, then this is a wonderful book. I don’t want this generation of women to become middle-aged and like the woman above be unable to see past a bad hair day to recognize the extraordinary accomplishments of a woman like Hillary Clinton.

Have you read Caitlin Moran’s book How to Be a Woman? What were your thoughts?

If you enjoyed this post you may also like:
Making Women Count: Ending the Year on a Low Note
Getting a Clue About Feminism
The Feminine Mystique



  1. Love it SO, SO much. (See

    Also, her more recent collection of writing, Moranthology.

    Sad to hear about your coworker. I'll admit, I too am guilty of judging other women for their looks (and yes, in looking at that photo, I think dang, Hillary is getting old).

    This is a good read, if you haven't already seen it:

  2. eemusings,
    Actually I think your post was one of the reasons why I tried to read this book. So happy you enjoyed it. The subject matter is so important. Thanks for including your review and the article.

    p.s. I was trying not to divulge the woman was my co-worker. I guess this one is too obvious. LOL

  3. Great post! IT helps bring awareness of our judgments to light! I found you through the blog hop. New follower.

  4. Coming over from SITS. This is a great post and attitude. I might pick up that book, but seriously why would she want to taste that? Why? Sharing this post as it needs to be read by some of my friends too!

  5. I haven't heard of Caitlin Moran but I will probably check it out. I think it is really interested how many women are afraid to be labeled a feminist.

    It's such a bummer to hear women behave like that, sometimes it seems like we are our own worst enemies with our competitiveness.

  6. Megan,
    Thanks for stopping in. Judgments and personal prejudices based on appearance is such a pet peeve of mine. It reminds me of the beautiful, smart girl from my book club we tried setting up with the “hottie” from work. His comment after meeting and talking to her for only a few minutes - She is fat. If he called her fat he was also calling all of us fat too. Unfortunately one little blog post isn’t going to do much to alleviate the problem.

  7. Mellissa,
    I wondered that as well. Thanks for the share.

  8. Kristiina,
    I couldn't agree more.

  9. Fantastic post. It just shows that the mean girl spirit is alive and well and what's so sad is that many of us jump to that default without realizing it or meaning any harm.

    When a woman reaches a certain level of success and fame, all of a sudden we forget that she still has feelings. I would hate for someone to say some of the things I read and hear about me so I try to watch what I say and write about others.

    Thanks for sharing this with us. It's a great reminder that we need to support each other.


  10. Kimberly,
    So true. Our culture loves to build you up, and then tear you down. It seems so barbaric and unproductive. Fortunately for Hillary, I think she is strong enough to block out the noise, but many of us are not.