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Jezebel Book Club: How To Be a Woman

Illustration for article titled Jezebel Book Club: emHow To Be a Woman/em

For our second installment of the Jezebel Book Club, we'll be discussing Caitlin Moran's How To Be a Woman, which is great news for those of you who've read it, because it's hilarious and thought-provoking and awesome, and even for those of you who haven't, because Moran tackles a lot of topics that — if you're here at Jezebel — you're probably interested in debating.


If you haven't guessed by now, I thought How To Be a Woman was fantastic, both as a hysterical memoir and modern feminist manifesto that — I hope — has the potential to explain crucial feminist talking points to the majority of women who do not consider themselves feminists. I loved how I'd be cracking up while reading a funny memory about Moran about doing drugs or sleeping with asshole C-list celebs or hanging out with Lady Gaga, and then all of the sudden I'd be arguing with my roommate about stripping (which Moran basically thinks is a form of subservient female minstrel theater) or motherhood (pros: "oozy woozy sunrise love"; cons: putting everything else on hold) or pubes (Moran is militantly pro-pubes.)


As a Jezebel writer, I think about these issues all of the time, and at first I thought that maybe I didn't need this book — or that I'd enjoy it, but that I wouldn't learn anything new. I was wrong; Moran's reasoning made me reconsider my beliefs on a number of issues.

But I'll save that for the comments! Below are some of my favorite quotes. Use them as jumping-off points, or say whatever you want in the comments below. Or, if you haven't read or finished the book, feel free to talk about the basic theme, one which I find endlessly fascinating: What does it mean to be a feminist? I like Moran's quick and sassy definition: "Put your hand in your pants. A) do you have a vagina? and B) do you want to be in charge of it? If you said ‘yes' to both, then congratulations! You're a feminist." But I really love her litmus test for whether an issue is truly "feminist":

I have one rule of thumb that allows me to judge...whether some sexist bullshit is afoot...are the men doing it? Are the men worrying about this as well? Is this taking up the men's time? Are the men told not to do this, as it's "letting our side down?"

Some quotes:

From "I Become Furry!", an entire chapter dedicated to pubic hair and how we should never, ever wax or shave it all away:

"We're at risk of a situation in which every boy expects to undress a girl and find a thorough wax job, and every girl — terrified by the idea of being rejected, or though abnormal — waxes for them."


From "I Am Fat!":

"Overeating is the addiction of choice of carers, and that's why it's come to be regarded as the lowest-ranking of all the addictions. It's a way of fucking yourself up while still remaining full functional, because you have to. Fat people aren't indulging in the 'luxury' of their addiction making them useless, chaotic, or a burden. Instead, they are slowly self-destructing in a way that doesn't inconvenience anyone. And that's why it's so often a woman's addiction of choice."


From "I Encounter Some Sexism!":

"Ladies, we are at a massive disadvantage in the workplace. Your male peers are flirting with their male bosses constantly. The average work place is like fucking Bromancing the Stone. That's basically what male bondng is...if the only way you can bond with them is over your biological differences, you go for it. Feel pressure to actually fuck them if you do? Then don't flirt."


From "I Go Lap-dancing!":

"...if a white man suggested starting a cleaning agency that only employed black cleaners, dressed up in plantation clothing, and being excessively cowed and deferential to their employers, the entire world would be up in arms...but what are strip clubs and lap dancing clubs if not 'light entertainment' versions of the entire history of misogyny?"


"...are we really saying that strip clubs are just wonderful charities that allow women — well, the pretty thin ones, anyway: presumably the fatter, plainer ones have to do whatever it is all the male students are also doing — to get a degree? I can't believe women supposedly in higher education are that stupid. One doesn't want to be as blunt as to say, 'Girls get the fuck off the podium — you're letting us all down,' but: Girls get the fuck off the podium — you're letting us all down."

(Note: Moran likes Burlesque.)

From "Why You Shouldn't Have Children":

"No one has ever claimed for a moment that childless men have missed out on a vital aspect of their existence, and were the poorer and crippled for it...every woman who chooses — joyfully, thoughtfully, calmly, of her own free will and desire — not to have a child does womankind a massive favor in the long term. We need more women who are allowed to prove their worth as people, rather than being assessed merely for their potential to create new people."


I'll let you guys have your say now. Have at it.

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Jenna Sauers

Note: Moran likes Burlesque.

When I hear about "feminists" who don't like "stripping" but approve whole-heartedly of "burlesque," first I'm like this.