Caitlin Moran is definitely smart and funny. How To Be A Woman is written in the spirit of a rant, inspired by the age of the internet, and embracing it’s oddities and abbreviations. Moran turns “rofl” into a noun as swiftly and unapologetically as she advocates tasting one’s own menstruation. Reading it mostly reminded me of the late night chat sessions I have one of my besties, in which she, for obvious reasons, usually refers to me as “Drunk Tarryn”. It’s rude, irreverent, shouty, and hilarious. But, it is also, often, brave and moving.
Much of the criticism of this book follows the general structure of “she’s funny, but -”. She’s funny, but her feminist arguments are not intellectual enough. She’s funny, but all of her evidence is subjective (I mean, how dare she be subjective in her memoir?). She’s funny, but she only tells one side of the story. She’s funny, but she uses too many capital letters. The thing is, these were all aspects of the book that I loved. I love that she took the stance that “feminism is too important to be discussed only by academics”. I don’t believe we can escape subjectivity. I admire her for telling a rude, bloody, and distinctly non-princessy story. I LOVE A GOOD RANT.
Despite my general affection, I would, however, recommend starting to read it only after you have at least two glasses of red wine in your belly, and are feeling like you need to join in with a general chorus of “screw you, the patriarchy” without having to justify yourself intellectually. You should also not be feeling queasy about menstruation.
How To Be A Woman reads like a tequila-sodden ladies night diatribe, delivered with joyous passion, and punctuated by the slamming down of shot glasses. Embrace it for that, and it will embrace you in return (before walking into a door, and nearly throwing up on your shoes).