July Book Club - "How to be a Woman" by Caitlin Moran

Saturday, 4 August 2012 § 0

July Book Club - "How to be a Woman" by Caitlin Moran

1913 – Suffragette throws herself under the King’s horse.
1969 – Feminists storm Miss World.
NOW – Caitlin Moran rewrites The Female Eunuch from a bar stool and demands to know why pants are getting smaller.
There’s never been a better time to be a woman: we have the vote and the Pill, and we haven’t been burnt as witches since 1727. However, a few nagging questions do remain…

Why are we supposed to get Brazilians? Should you get Botox? Do men secretly hate us? What should you call your vagina? Why does your bra hurt? And why does everyone ask you when you’re going to have a baby?

Part memoir, part rant, Caitlin Moran answers these questions and more in How To Be A Woman – following her from her terrible 13th birthday (‘I am 13 stone, have no friends, and boys throw gravel at me when they see me’) through adolescence, the workplace, strip-clubs, love, fat, abortion, TopShop, motherhood and beyond.

As usual we met up in the Tiled Hall Cafe in Leeds Art Gallery for Book Club to discuss   "How to be a Woman" by Caitlin Moran which was suggested by Lianne.  There were many bookclub regulars as well as a couple of first timers which was great and there were certainly lots of different opinions.

Most of the group really enjoyed the book and many commented that whilst reading it they had both laughed out loud and cried at points.  In general the chapter around abortion made a lot of the group cry and Vicki said that reading the book for the second time the chapter about child birth affected her the most.  It was agreed that it was a very accessible book about feminism and that by comparison a lot of the feminist books available are much more highbrow and harder to engage with such as "Delusions of Gender" that Shelli mentioned she had read previously.  Claire felt that she perhaps was irritated by elements of the book and in particular the discussion around whether to have children or not and that it was almost a feeling of Moran giving permission for women to not have to have children in one chapter.  

We had general debates around the topics covered in the book including the influence of fashion magazines, marriage and whether to change your name afterwards, burlesque vs lap dancing, waxing, menstruation, Katie Price and Lady Gaga.  Siobhan couldn't make the meeting, but was there in spirit and we discussed some of her comments on the book that she'd posted on the Facebook page including "The title gets my goat a bit ' how to be a woman' as that seems to be yet another kind of diktat about how a woman should look/behave and frankly we get enough of that in the mainstream media as it is. I get that you need a snappy title but really it should be 'How To Be Me Caitlin Moran'. Plus it's only how to be a straight childbearing woman though I did like her bit on not having children too."

It was a really friendly, but passionate debate across lots of different feminist issues and also the issue of feminism itself and it was great to have input from people with really diverse backgrounds and experiences in a really positive discussion environment.

The next book on our list is Fifty Shades of Grey by E L James, however some of the book club members felt quite strongly that this wasn't something that they wanted to read so we decided to have a double discussion at the next meeting and discuss first of all "Lolita" by Vladimir Navokov from 2pm - 3pm and then "Fifty Shades of Grey" from 3pm onwards. We will be meeting on Sunday 9th September at the Tiled Hall Cafe at 2pm. We hope that you will be able to join us.  

Review by Lucy Rider, Buns & Roses WI Secretary  

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