Friday, 6 January 2012

'How to Be A Woman' by Caitlin Moran: Why I demand this be put on the school curriculum immediately!

It is a long time since I have opened a book and then not put it down again until I have rapaciously devoured every word. It is a longer time still since I have found myself laughing snot-producingly-loud one minute, and then sobbing into my duvet the next. This is the effect Caitilin Moran's book, 'How to Be a Woman' had on me when I started reading it twenty four hours ago.

My total affinity and adoration of this book might be something to do with the fact that there is only about three years age difference between us, and so much of our impoverished, alternative, full-of-crazy-parental-love'growing up' is so instantly familiar. Aside from her rather 'glamorous' hedonistic career as a music reporter at Melody Maker in the nineties, and her later career as a presenter of 'alternative', cutting edge t.v, and more latterly as a columnist for 'The Times', in so many ways our lives have the most extraordinary parallels.

But this isn't because Moran and I have had such extraordinary experiences, it is because SO many women of our age have 'been there'. From the general anger at pointless periods, to the rejection by mainstream society, to the glorious discovery of Jilly Cooper, to the almost just as glorious discovery of Germain Greer, to the destructive relationship, to marriage, to motherhood, to career annihilation (consequence of motherhood), to the wonderful sense of contentment and wisdom of entering our mid-thirties, so much surer of the world than we ever feared we might be, and yes although more cynical, considerably funnier happier, and slightly better dressed.

From Moran's frank and open discussions about the almost political minefield over what we call our vagina, to the fabulously funny anecdotes of visiting a strip-club and hanging out with Lady Gaga at a sex party, Moran manages to approach each feminist concern with a wonderful lightness of touch that is at once paradoxically passionate old school feminist, and (post-feminist) hilariously funny.

Her exploration of twenty first century feminism - basically crystallised into the wonderfully simple but joyous idea of 'civility' is a breath of fresh air. Her ralleighing call to stand up and 'out' ourselves as 'Strident' (A word I love to use and is sadly under-used) Feminists and to pull the chaps to account for their lack of basic human civility in the treatment of us women, is a form of feminism that can be immediately implemented without the rest of the world believing you to be some angry seventies hangover.


Moran has instantly become one of my feminist heroes. It will be her book, alongside Germain Greer's 'Female Eunuch' and Jilly Copper's 'Riders' that shall be presented to my daughter on her fifteenth birthday in her 'welcome-to-womanhood-darling-gift-bag' which will also include a pair of Doc Martins, the instructions for making the perfect mojito, and a bottle of Miss Dior!

And for all those fledgling women with mother's who think that maybe a Playboy pant and knicker set, along with a Brazillian wax is a better gift to give their fifteen year old daughter, then I make this demand, Mr Gove. It's not the bible we need to give a copy of to every English School, it's a copy of THIS book. To be read out, a chapter a week religiously to an assembly of fifteen year old young men and women and then maybe, just maybe the future might be brighter.

You can get your copy here

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