How To Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran Beautifully Proclaims a Regaining of Feminism


Book Reviews By: Shannon Cuthrell

Caitlin Moran’s How To Be a Woman is a sort of feminist proclamation manifested through wildly hilarious stories from her own life. The book is “a fairly comprehensive telling of every instance that I had little, or in many cases, no idea… of how to be a woman.” It’s through these stories that she calls feminists to action by reclaiming the word “feminism.” “The more women argue, loudly, against feminism, the more they both prove it exists and that they enjoy its hard-won privileges. Because of all that people have tried to abuse it and discount it, ‘feminism’ is still the word we need.” Moran continually expresses the vigorous need to bring feminism back in conjunction with the word “strident.” Women have to become strident feminists. Only 29% of American women call themselves feminists and only 1% of the world’s wealth is owned by women. These are scary statistics that point to the fact that, clearly, the genders are not equal. Moran explains that there are two criteria used for spotting sexism: 1. Is it polite or not? 2. Are men doing it too? She defensively points out that masculinity or the “man vs. women” mentality isn’t the problem of sexism. The problem is that women “just have bad status. Men are accustomed to us being runners-up or being disqualified entirely.” Women are expected to be second place in the grand scheme of things. Women have always had less to say than men. It is high time they step up and speak out.

Another visceral declaration that Moran makes in the book is that women mistake comfort and luxury for equality. They find it their responsibility to wear uncomfortable clothing in exchange for power, but it should be their inner qualities that bring them that power. This relates to Marxist feminism: that women are judged entirely on wealth production, catching them in a trap where they’re constantly judging themselves and each other based on luxuries. This is important to understand in creating solutions to gender equality in our world today.

In a recent interview for International Authors’ Stage, Moran reveals that the point of the book was to discuss the politics of feminism and also to raise a conscious awareness towards the importance of feminism. The book concludes with the reiteration that feminists aren’t arguing to take over the world from men. They’re simply arguing for their share. The men don’t really have to change a thing. “What I want, instead are some radical market forces. I want choice. I want variety. I want more… I want women to have more of the world, not just because it would be fairer, but because it would be better. More exciting. Reordered. Reinvented.” She finalizes the book with stating that, throughout her life, she always wanted to be a goddess of a woman, but as truth came to fruition and the years went on, she realized that what she really wanted was to be a productive, honest, courteously treated human. “One of ‘the guys,’” she says, “but with really amazing hair.”