Book Review // How To Be a Woman

3 years ago, I read that article in which Caitlin Moran said she doesn't wear high heels because it would be easy to rape or murder her, and that billionaire heiresses never get raped or murdered. She really said that. Right at that point, I decided that Caitlin Moran was a knob and wanted nothing to do with her. This summer, I saw a copy of How To Be a Woman in my local charity bookshop and snapped it up, figuring it would be great fodder for inspiring rants. And then something unexpected happened. I actually kind of liked it. Erm, and by "kind of liked it", I mean loved it. Whoops!

How To Be a Woman- Caitlin Moran
How To Be a Woman review
Summary of How To Be a Woman
Essentially, How To Be a Woman is a memoir of Moran's life as she travels through adolescence and into adulthood, expanding on the lessons she learned along the way. It is divided into chapters based around key events of her womanhood, such as when she begins to grow body hair, when she first falls in love and when she starts working. These events act as catalysts for feminist issues like whether we should remove our body hair or whether you can be a feminist icon and play up your sexuality (cue Katie Price). 

Review of How To Be a Woman
Throughout the book, Moran uses her trademark confrontational, no-fucks-given writing style which is difficult not to get swept up in. Plus, she's funny. Like, really funny. Each chapter is kept mostly concise and, to my surprise, I found I agreed with practically everything she was saying. Until she got onto strip clubs, that is, and then she lost me but that's a tale for another time! (Calling strippers stupid? Not on!) For the most part, I found Moran's willingness to dive into the most personal areas of her life not only inspiring but also very reassuring: For other women who have been in similar situations to read hers and think "Thank the Lord, it's not just me! I'm not a monster, after all!" That, for me, was the beauty of this book- the realisation that whatever you felt, in whichever situation, is not only perfectly normal (despite what society would have you believe), but that there is someone out there willing to stand up and fight your corner. I might not have agreed with everything she said but I sure respected that attitude!
Copy of How To Be a Woman
Rating of How To Be a Woman
As I said, I loved this book. The odd bits that I disagreed on let it down for me. Ironically, it's precisely the confrontational, no-holds-barred attitude that makes this book that also brought it down for me. It's all well and good calling out crappy behaviour but insulting women for their life choices? Nope. Not for me, thanks. For this reason, I rate How To Be a Woman seven out of ten.

Recommendations of books similar to How To Be a Woman

If How To Be a Woman is your cup of tea, and if, like me, you're a bit more liberal with  your feminism, you'll probably love the controversial Hot Feminist. Give it a chance! 

Buy How To Be a Woman here

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  1. I've had this book on my TBR shelf for a while now but like you- I'm very liberal with my feminism. Off to check out Hot Feminist now!
    Imogen’s Typewriter <3

  2. I read this recently and while it didn't have a big an impact on me as it has on others it gave me lots to think about and I was nodding along in agreement for a lot of it. Maybe I'll give Hot Feminist a try too.

  3. I really wanted to like this and I HATED it. I was actually shocked because, on paper, it is totally my kind of book. I just really didn't get on with the style and felt I was being dictated to. I gave up half way through.

    I'm currently reading Laurie Penny's Unspeakable Things and, so far, it's great. Completely no-bullshit, to the point and really interesting.

    1. Ooh, I second this recommendation. There's a wonderful quote about women in boardrooms in it that is right up there in my words to live by.

      Lis / last year's girl x

  4. I am a Caitlin fan but acknowledge & am disappointed by how problematic she can be too. I wasn't a fan of this book, I felt like she was trying too hard to be controversial at times (the comparing menstruation to strips of liver?!). I LOVED her fiction book "How to Build a Girl", though. I hope you read it as I'd be interested to see what you think!

  5. I read this book a while back and loved it, although like you I didn't agree with everything she says. Although, unlike you, that actually doesn't ruin it for me at all. I like reading books I disagree with because it challenges my own beliefs and allows me to become clearer on them in my mind. Plus I met Caitlin Moran two years ago and she really is exactly how she comes across on paper. Whilst I can see that could be off putting to people, you've got to admire a woman who is so unequivocally herself and doesn't kowtow to please others as so many women are expected to do. Great review Becky, I really enjoyed hearing your thoughts on it :)

    Liza x

  6. I really enjoyed this, and actually found the fact that I disagreed with some of what she said made me enjoy it more. I find agreeing with everything someone says makes me dull, and if anything it gave me food for thought in developing my own opinions with reasoning and caused some excellent 'thinking time'!

  7. Ohhh I'd love to see what this is about and whether I agreed. If I see it in a charity shop like you did, I'll pick it up! x

    Martha Jane |

  8. I really didn't want to like her either, but this book made it very difficult...very very funny, quite relatable. :)

  9. I enjoy a love/hate relationship with Caitlin Moran. The things she says I agree with, I REALLY agree with and I think she is genuinely very funny. She became a fellow at my university during my graduation ceremony and she nearly had me in tears with her speech, it was hilarious. That being said, she also says some downright AWFUL things I really disagree with, which is a shame really. I'd have to agree with your rating of 7/10 for this book!


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