Charlotte Moore

Fun-loving feminist

How to be a Woman is a manifesto memoir.

How to be a Woman is a manifesto memoir. Feminism, says the Times journalist Caitlin Moran, ‘has ground to a halt … shrunk down to a couple of increasingly small arguments, carried out among a couple of dozen feminist academics’. Moran wants to pull feminism out of its rut, dust it down and sex it up. She does this by laying bare her own transition from childhood to adulthood, when she hurtled through adolescence like ‘a monkey strapped inside a rocket … There isn’t an exit plan.’

Feminism is ‘serious, momentous and urgent’, which is why Moran seeks to make it accessible through anecdote and chat. She deliberately avoids the big issues — ambition, money, education, rape, sex trafficking, female circumcision — though she does, bravely, discuss abortion, via her own experience. Instead, she advocates a ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards the ‘littler, stupider, more obvious day-to-day problems’ that hollow women out. Get rid of the small stuff and you’ll weaken the big stuff, she implies:

No one is tackling OK Magazine, £600 handbags, tiny pants, stupid hen nights, or Katie Price. And they have to be tackled … rugby style, face down in the mud, with lots of shouting.

Moran is happy to provide the shouting. I’ve already quoted a lot, and I’m still on the prologue. That’s because every sentence jumps up and down, arms waving, screaming to be noticed. She sets out to shock us and to make us laugh. Laughter, she believes, is the strongest weapon in the new-wave feminist’s armoury. ‘We don’t need to march against size-zero models, risible pornography, lap-dancing clubs and botox … We just need to look it in the eye… and then start laughing at it’.

Most of the time this works.

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