How to be a Woman

Friday 27 June 2014 by

How to be a Woman, Caitlin Moran, EBury Press, BookHow to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

Published by Ebury Press

Suffragette throws herself under the King’s horse.

Feminists storm Miss World.

NOW Caitlin Moran rewrites The Female Eunuch from a bar stool and demands to know why pants are getting smaller.

There’s never been a better time to be a woman: we have the vote and the Pill, and we haven’t been burnt as witches since 1727. However, a few nagging questions do remain…

Why are we supposed to get Brazilians? Should we use Botox? Do men secretly hate us? What should you call your vagina? Why does your bra hurt? And why does everyone ask you when you’re going to have a baby?

Part memoir, part rant, Caitlin Moran answers these questions and more in How To Be A Woman – following from her terrible 13th birthday (‘I am 13 stone, have no friends, and boys throw gravel at me when they see me’) through adolescence, the workplace, strip-clubs, love, being fat, abortion, TopShop, motherhood and beyond.


There have been countless occasions when I have honestly asked myself a variant of this question… how on Earth can I be “A Woman”? I’m baffled and overwhelmed by many of the requirements of being a woman more often than not, and frankly, a lot of the expectations people seem to have of me fall flat on their faces as soon as I walk in to a glass door or swear as I slip over straight on to my bum, or they realise I run with all the grace of a Womble at top speed.

Which is why, opening the pages of How to be a Woman (and secretly hoping there is a magic formula mentioned somewhere), you realise that being a Woman is not as simple as it sounds for anyone.

Caitlin Moran is my idea of a feminist icon: unapologetic, frank, and hilarious, with the all-encompassing promise of friendship. Her brand of feminism is the affirmation that “we’re just one of the guys” and this suits me down to a T. How to be a Woman is not a rant about men, the media, or the suffocations of being a woman. It is more an honest rant about how bloody difficult, stressful, and often boring, being a Woman can be.

Rather, this is a memoir of self-discovery than the recipe for feminine success. Laugh, cringe, cry, shake your head, and don’t ever read chapter 12 on a packed train on your way to a baby shower. This book will leave you wishing you were a) best friends with Caitlin Moran and b) as forthright and brave as Caitlin Moran. This book will leave you feeling empowered, and not a little reassured that you are not alone in wondering if you’re just getting it all wrong. Moran is unerringly comfortable in her own skin, and rather than make you feel that you’re the odd one out because you don’t, she shows you (without preaching) how to find out what YOU like and do what YOU want to do, until you feel totally comfortable with yourself too.

But it’s not all larks and stories of fighting The Man by going to a strip-club and guzzling free champagne. Moran will have you snorting with laughter one minute, and then have your heart break the next. There is a darker side to being a Woman. There are things that we, as a gender, simply have to weather on our own. And with the same skill and deftness that she puts bras firmly in their place, Moran also points the finger at these more unhappy tales and demands that we CONFRONT and we LAUGH.

And there, in itself, is the success of this book. Moran is a self-confessed optimist, and this makes life pretty fun, and she wants you to join in. Being a woman, Moran reveals, is not about the right shade of lipstick, being able to walk in high heels, or knowing exactly the right thing to say in the boardroom to your boss whilst whipping up nutritious, homemade meals for the kids every night. Rather, it’s clumsy and inappropriate and half the time you’re either going to embarrass yourself or someone else. Nothing is ever simple. In fact, it’s not really about being a woman at all. It’s about being a normal human being… Who runs like a Womble.

“But as the years went on, I realised that what I really want to be, all told, is a human. Just a productive, honest, courteously treated human. One of ‘The Guys’. But with really amazing hair.”

You can follow Fran on Twitter: @CatwomanFran

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