Caitlin Moran: My Hero!
"I think you would really like How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran," my friend said on Sunday night.
"What? Who's that?" I asked.
"Hey," I said feeling defensive. It was true that I used to be a little bit more on top of things. "I spent the last year in a wretched job, using my spare time to mentally escape into a novel I'm writing about Jews in Warsaw in the 1930s, and whenever I do pay attention to the news, it is always to hear about some new right-wing attack on reproductive rights that my 'socially liberal Republican' friend insists is not realllllly a war on women since Gov. Jan Brewer of AZ signed one of the bad laws and she's a woman, so clearly it is OK for all women, right? So cut me some slack, huh?"
My friend smiled. "You are gonna love Caitlin Moran."
The next morning, I looked up Moran's book online. First I went to the one star reviews because I decided recently that they are often more revealing than the good ones. Here's what I found:
I’m sorry, but this is the most profane and degrading book I’ve ever read… Foul language and too much information about the goings on of a young girl’s body… a crass and sometimes vulgar read at best.
I knew I would love this book.
Now I will admit that I have come to loathe memoirs or other stories that clearly took place in the past but are written in present tense. None of the one star reviews mentioned that How To Be A Woman is written in present tense (which might in some circumstances warrant one star), but I was able to stop gritting my teeth as I read because Moran is so funny and right on. She has an entire chapter dedicated to pubic hair, for crying out loud! How could I not love this? (And also not be incredibly jealous, as quite frankly, this is the memoir I went to an MFA program to try and write - albeit in past tense - but felt wouldn't work and abandoned in favor of aforementioned novel set in Warsaw, but I digress.) To wit:
It's now gotten to the point that, if you listen in on conversations in the back of the bus, you can hear 14-year-old boys being horrified to discover that, on fingering a 13-year-old girl, she has pubic hair. In the 21st century, modern boys... are now as panicked by pubic hair as Victorian art critic John Ruskin apparently was in 1848, when he was so alarmed at the sight of his new wife's pubic hair that he refused to ever consummate the marriage. Bloody hell. Aside from every conceivable, dolorous psychosexual side effect, it saddens me that 13-year-old girls are spending what little money they have getting their foofs stripped. They should be spending that money on really important stuff: hair dye, tights, Jilly Cooper paperbacks, the Guns 'N Roses back catalog, the poems of Larkin, KitKats, Thunderbird22, earrings that make your ears go green and septic, and train tickets as far away from your hometown as you can possibly afford. TAKE YOUR FURRY MINGE TO DUBLIN, that's what I say.
I admit I kind choked up a little with furry muff pride at the end of her rant on the beauty of pubic hair. Brilliant, right? Absolutely! Vulgar? Profane? Degrading? Uh, not a chance. She takes on so many of the topics that I hold near and dear: stilettos, trying to look young forever, boobs, etc. The lady speaks truth, says my furry minge.
My scant research into this book made me love its author (and covet her career, but that is another story). As in the aforementioned NYT:
“When I talk to girls, they go, ‘I’m not a feminist,’ ” she said. “And I say: ‘What? You don’t want to vote? Do you want to be owned by your husband? Do you want your money from your job to go into his bank account? If you were raped, do you still want that to be a crime? Congratulations: you are a feminist.’"
She makes no apologies, even when describing the abortion she had when she became pregnant two years after having her second daughter with her husband, a rock critic.
“Everyone was like, ‘You’ve written a very brave book,’ ” Moran said. “But I’ve not done anything bad in that book. Every woman bleeds, every woman masturbates — I hope. One in three women will have an abortion; everyone’s had a bad boyfriend; everyone’s had some kind of fantasy relationship in their head. But if we keep these things secret and don’t talk about them publicly — then that to me looks like the behavior of oppressed people."
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