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How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
Caitlin Moran's polemic-by-autobiography might not have the anger or urgency of The Female Eunuch, but it certainly has more jokes

How to Be a Woman
Caitlin Moran
Ebury Press, 320pp, £11.99

As a movement, feminism has been many things, but rarely has it seemed fun. Caitlin Moran is out to change that as she "rewrites The Female Eunuch from a bar stool and demands to know why pants are getting smaller".

How to Be a Woman joins her on her 13th birthday, growing up in 1980s Wolverhampton. Caitlin was the eldest of eight children, crammed into a council house, sharing beds and piling on top of each other on the sofa to watch Bergerac. The lack of privacy (her mother points out her daughter's first pubic hair to the whole family in a chapter entitled "I Become Furry!") perhaps explains why this is such an unabashed book. It's all here: teenage crushes, masturbation, lap-dancing, episiotomies, chafed nipples, drunkenly spilling whisky over Graham Coxon from Blur. And ultimately it's all about her. This is polemic-by-autobiography, so how much you like Moran's arguments will depend on how much you like Moran.

Her feminism is of the easygoing, pragmatic kind. Although she claims, in discussing Katie Price's career, that women who "pander to sexism to make their fortune are Vichy France with tits", she is no hardliner. Even though a mother, she is in favour of women rejecting motherhood as their highest goal, and points out: "Batman doesn't want a baby in order to feel he's 'done everything'."

In essence, she believes the opposite of sexism is politeness, and that our ambition should be to see the whole of humanity as simply "The Guys". Nevertheless, even though this book emphasises the intellectual similarities between men and women, it can't help stressing their physical differences. The writer's unruly female body is centre stage throughout: even Germaine Greer has wondered whether Moran will regret "casting off every last shred of her bodily privacy" by writing about her zealous teenage masturbation.

Take her description of her overweight teenĀ­age body: "I am a virgin, and I don't play sport, or move heavy objects, or go anywhere or do anything, and so my body is this vast, sleeping, pale thing. There it is, standing awkwardly in the mirror, looking like it's waiting to receive bad news. It is the bad news."

For the full article

The New Statesman
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