Friday, September 7, 2012

I'm neither "pro-women" nor "anti-men." I'm just "Thumbs up for the six billion."

I want to be BFFs with Caitlin Moran. We'll drink vodka and she'll explain to me how to be a woman and it will be wonderful.

Laura said it best when she described Moran's book How To Be A Woman as "part memoir, part feminist manifesto, all awesome". I'm also pretty sure that I first heard of this book from Laura because Moran is British so the book came out over there WAY before I could get it. I just jealously sat by reading reviews not only about how great this book is but also an interview between Moran and Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess, aka Let's Pretend This Never Happened author). So there was a lot of build up. It not only met but exceeded expectations.

Moran writes about feminism from her personal experiences. Her chapters use that personal experience as a jumping off point to talk about larger topics, such as the pervasive porn culture in the chapter I Start Bleeding!*. And she is hilarious. It's not like reading a textbook about feminism, it's like talking to your friend about all the shit that being a woman entails. And part of that is not backing down from difficult topics. She talks about sex and marriage and abortion in a very straightforward, very honest way. An honest and hilarious way. Because that's the reason I would want to have these conversations with her (or in this case cos it's a book, listen to her talk). She can take a serious topic, keep it serious and thought provoking but crack you up. I think people are much more receptive to deep ideas when they're laughing. Your defenses are down and you don't even realize what you're taking in and suddenly BOOM, feminist.

Her main point, her main moral is that you should just be polite. Be nice. Sexism? It's not nice, don't do it. Because ultimately everyone is just trying to get along. Thumbs up for the six billion, indeed.

I already want to re-read this. I try to underline passages or mark down pages I want to talk about, but with this book I didn't really do that. Because I couldn't break myself away for 3 seconds to actually get the post-it and mark the page. So I've been flipping through it trying to find examples or ideas of what I want to talk about and I keep having to stop myself from finishing the page or the chapter. I feel like I haven't said too much here, so you should probably go read Laura's review. Or you could just go read this because this is the best.

One quick thing for Americans checking this out. As I mentioned, Moran is English so there are English-y moments. My copy however was clearly meant for the American audience, as it explained things like Wombles as a footnote. So don't worry about not understanding some references because the message is universal. And kick ass. Everyone appreciates kick ass.

I've had the hardest time writing this. In part because writing about a book I love is 1,000 times harder than writing about a book I hate or was lukewarm about and also because the TV keeps distracting me, and of course I could go to another room or something, but that's not going to happen. I will continue to write this and watch the VMAs while I try to figure out at exactly what point did all of the music start just sounding like noise. Then I'm going to chase some kids off the lawn.

*Her chapters are all SUPER EXCITED like that, based on (I assume) the way she wrote in her diary when she was young.

Title quote from page 128

Moran, Caitlin. How To Be A Woman. Harper Perennial, 2011.