After having been told by a friend, ‘You MUST read this!’- and finding it in WH Smith at King’s Cross, falling into the category of ‘the only decent book on offer’- I have finally read Caitlin Moran’s ‘How to Be a Woman’. And in the process, although I didn’t magically become a woman, I definitely learned a lot.
At last I am more comfortable with the idea of being a ‘feminist’. For years I thought it was something I should be, though I wasn’t really sure how or what it really meant. As Moran rightly points out, the term is frequently misappropriated and misinterpreted. I myself was conflicted: should I burn my bras? Hate men forever? Begin plotting world domination?
It’s much simpler than that, it turns out. Moran asks, ‘Are you female?’ Yes, I am. ‘Then you are a feminist.’ Well, that was easy. The book claims that as a woman, it’s almost impossible NOT to be a feminist- to not be interested in issues affecting women, from the ‘big’ ones like domestic abuse, to, erm, smaller things, like the appropriate amount of pubic hair to have. I’m now encouraged to actually follow through on my long-postponed vows to read the great feminist texts. And some day soon I will no doubt be stood on a chair, proclaiming those all-important four words, twelve letters: I AM A FEMINIST.
Above all, though, what I got from the text – besides constant hilarious anecdotes – is that it’s OK to do what YOU want. That, as a woman, you have choices. That despite the attempts of society to stereotype and pigeonhole and condition, there is no one universal definition of what ‘woman’ actually is (aside from the obvious biological definition). If you don’t want to do something, then don’t bloody well do it. It seems like a straightforward ‘moral’, if you like, but to be told it in such frank terms BY ANOTHER WOMAN felt very empowering, and seemed to actually mean something.
It seems that being armed with a winning attitude and a refusal to see yourself as inferior to men forms the very core of being a woman. The rest are just accessories, things to figure out on the journey. Just remember to pack your sense of humour. If anything, becoming – and indeed being – a woman is a very entertaining ride.