Book Review: How to be a Woman by Caitlan Moran


Rating: 4 / 5

I picked up How to be a Woman not knowing what to expect.  I have to say that I’m glad I did give this one a try, although right off the bat I can tell you it’s not for everyone.  Part of it is a memoir, infused with uproariously funny anecdotes of battling pubic hair and figuring out sex.  The other half though, is an honest, serious, and funny look at issues women face day in and day out, such as: the pressure to be thin, having versus not having children, abortion, and the things women do to feel feminine.  I can’t say “been there-done that” to some of the things we discusses, but I’m sure that when that time comes, I’ll have a great chuckle remembering bits of pieces of this book.

While this book, through and through, is hilarious, I think Moran’s message is a serious one. She makes very valid and honest points about sexism and climbing the corporate ladder, the struggle with body image, the problems with strip clubs, and why in the world women wear non-sensical high heels.  The best part of the book was when Moran discussed the issue of having children.  I think she totally hit the nail on the head with, “The inference of the word childless is negative: one of lack, and loss…We make women feel that their narrative has ground to a half in their thirties if they don’t “finish things” properly and have children.” (pg 234) Well, ain’t that the truth.  I’m properly in the “early 30s” category, and it is unbelievable the amount of time I sit around thinking about having children, especially how it relates (or more aptly, will temporarily derail) to my career aspirations.  As a society, we do judge women on whether or not they are mothers.  It seems that the norm is for women to have (and want children), and when we meet a women who states she does not want to be a mother, the first question is usually, “why not?”  I applaud Moran for bringing light to the fact that motherhood is not a given just because women can bear children, and for the women who can’t or choose not to become mothers, they still have a life too, and probably a more interesting and less exhaustive one.

I really wish men would read this book, but with a title of How to Be a Woman, I fear that will not be the case.  However, Moran’s voice is unique, and can pretty much be described as honest and crass. The bottom line? I thoroughly enjoyed this book but it isn’t for everyone.

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