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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but made me want to rant.
The bits about Caitlin Moran's unusual childhood and family are brilliant (family on benefits, 7 siblings, home schooled). If she writes a straightforward autobiography I'll buy it in a heartbeat. In this book though the autobiographical bits are mixed in with some feminist discussions. It's a bit like listening to a friend rant in the pub - you agree with some of it, you...
Published on 20 Nov. 2012 by gwensi

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500 of 546 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Started well...................
I'm giving this book 3 stars as an average based on the fact that at the beginning I thought I would be giving it 5 but by the end I wanted to give it just 1.

My girlfriend has been asking me to read this book for a while (for the record I am male but like to think I am as liberal as they come). Eventually I acquiesced and started reading with few expectations...
Published on 30 July 2011 by Al


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but made me want to rant., 20 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: How To Be a Woman (Paperback)
The bits about Caitlin Moran's unusual childhood and family are brilliant (family on benefits, 7 siblings, home schooled). If she writes a straightforward autobiography I'll buy it in a heartbeat. In this book though the autobiographical bits are mixed in with some feminist discussions. It's a bit like listening to a friend rant in the pub - you agree with some of it, you disagree with some of it, and generally you're interested in what they have to say. The problem is, you can't join in with the book. There's no opportunity to tell your drunk friend in the pub that they're talking rubbish. It's very frustrating and leads to you ranting at the book. If you enjoy that, this is the book for you.

The other thing that bugged me was that although she's clearly a very successful woman, she writes most of the book with an air of 'I'm rubbish, I just muddle through', which is infuriating. Hard to believe she read her way through a library or two but didn't at any point learn, for example, how to act in a workplace, dress appropriately, or prepare for giving birth. It seemed incongruous in a feminist book, which you really don't expect to be endorsing a 'silly me, I'm so ditzy' attitude in women.
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300 of 319 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must-read for women under 30, 14 Aug. 2011
This review is from: How To Be a Woman (Paperback)
...which I'm not, you understand. I've a decade on Caitin and grew up with the feminist debate raging about mine ears. For a while now I've been sighing heavily at how it seemed to have fallen off the cultural radar - no one seemed to be talking about it any more, let alone calling themselves a feminist. And now here's Ms Moran, putting the debate about what it means to be a woman in the 21st century not just back on the agenda, but in the non-fiction top 10. Hoo-blooming-ray! Look, there's heaps about this book that's annoying. The incessant CAPITAL LETTERS. The surfeit of screamers. Initially I felt like I was being shouted at, that the jokes weren't all funny, and this was a memoir masquerading as polemic. But unlike other reviewers who thought it petered out, I warmed to How to Be a Woman hugely. The writing seemed to calm down, become less personal, more thoughtful. So by the end I was converted. I've just been to buy a copy for my teenage goddaughter. She told me her ambition was to 'get married and go to parties' (presumably not in that order). So I hiked her by her beautiful long hair to the nearest bookshop and thrust a copy into her perfectly manicured hand. 'Read this,' I said. 'It's funny'. She may not agree with all or even any of it. But I think she's much more likely to actually read it than Germaine Greer or Simone de Beauvoir, and if it makes her think - just a bit - then I'll be pleased. And if she gains just a smidge more ambition, I'll be cockahoop. So if you've never read a book on feminism, read this one. And if you've read a few, read it too. It's contemporary, strident and wise. You'll also have a laugh, and crikey, there are a lot worse ways to spend your time.
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500 of 546 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Started well..................., 30 July 2011
This review is from: How To Be a Woman (Paperback)
I'm giving this book 3 stars as an average based on the fact that at the beginning I thought I would be giving it 5 but by the end I wanted to give it just 1.

My girlfriend has been asking me to read this book for a while (for the record I am male but like to think I am as liberal as they come). Eventually I acquiesced and started reading with few expectations (I had never heard of Caitlin Moran before I picked this up). I thought the prologue was great. It was genuinely funny (even made me laugh out loud a couple of times which almost never happens), well written, and engaging. The next few chapters were just good, though I felt like it could have done with some ruthless editing of the bits that weren't quite so funny or poignant to make it great. But towards the middle of the book things started to go downhill, pretty steeply.

One of the problems with the book is that the author talks as if everything is black or white, gloriously righteous or disgustingly evil. In the beginning when she is talking about obvious things (woman should have the same opportunities as men, etc..) this is fine. It's when she gets into more debatable arguments (strip clubs= evil, burlesque shows + pole dancing lessons= fantastic), even about things that I agree on (e.g. pro-choice, aethiesm) that this starts to grate. She treats the idea that any opinion other than her own could have any validity with contempt and doesn't really put forward any cogent arguments for her reasoning (but basically devolves into semi-coherent rants over and over again- and this is coming from someone who actually agrees with the broad points she is making!!).

She talks in sweeping generalizations and sometimes contradicts herself. More and more so as it goes on the book reads as if it has been written in a rush and never re-read or edited. When I started reading I was actually thinking the author is someone I would love to have round for dinner to have a conversation with, by the end of the book that idea seems more like an opportunity I'd run a mile from because I envision she would not let anyone else get a word in edgeways, shout down any opposing opinions and to be honest, I'm not sure she's actually a very nice person.

Something I also came to realize through the course of the book is although I think MOST of her opinions are right, it comes across as if she doesn't think they are right because she's sat down and tried to think things through objectively. It's because things have pissed her off or got in her way and so she has come up with arguments (and not necessarily well thought out ones) to justify the way she already feels.

Would also like to point out that making a joke about a child covered in napalm is never funny, particuarly when you are trying to take the moral high ground. And also that I have never read anything about Oprah's arse but quite lot about China's growing economy, if it's the other way round for the author and it pisses her off so much perhaps she should stop buying Grazia and Heat and perpetuating the culture of criticizing the appearance of successful women she claims to be so against.

Essentially I really enjoyed this book when I started it but by the time I finished I was so irritated it took me an hour and a half to get to sleep last night :(
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yes! but..., 31 Aug. 2012
This review is from: How To Be a Woman (Paperback)
A wonderful, frank book, which I enjoyed immensely. However, I strongly disagree with one of the points.

Sorry, I'll quote from memory, because there was a small queue to read How to be a woman at Bury (Greater Manchester) libraries, and I had to return the book rather suddenly. The part I am talking about says something along the lines, that men despise women not because of a "eunuch complex" or any similar artificial highbrow concept but because women are losers.

I agree with this but you elaborate saying, approximately, that in 50 years since the beginning of mass-production of the pill and changes in the law, which declared gender equality in workplace for a tiny minority of Western women, they did not produce anybody equal to Einstein and Steven Hawking.

I cannot argue about Einstein, after all, there are probably only four or five people, which radically changed how we picture the physical world - Plato, Aristotle, Newton with the first person who proposed the idea of the atom being the fifth. Hawkins, on the other hand, "only" made a relatively major contribution to the current cosmology theory and is mostly known as a celebrity.

There are scores and scores of scientists of his caliber. Surely Marie Skłodowska-Curie, who discovered radioactivity, which has had much wider implications than Hawking's inflation theory, is more than on par with Hawkins, who did not win a Nobel Prize yet? She won not one, but two, the first shared with her husband and another man, but the second one with no one. Incidentally, her daughter, Irene Joliot-Curie also won a Nobel Prize.

There is a difference between true worth of a person and his or her media coverage, and the media prefer eminent men and beautiful women, and rarely other way around. I think if we carefully examine the other examples of non-surpassed winning men, we'll discover a few equally talented women.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Puerile rubbish, 5 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: How To Be a Woman (Kindle Edition)
I realise that I am slightly older than Caitlin Moran (the wrong side of 50) so perhaps the message supposedly in the book escaped me as it was intended for a younger generation. All I can say therefore is that it was not my sort of read and I would not read any more of her books. I read this with a local book club, and apart from one member we all disliked it. I managed to finish reading it (which was a struggle) and even now I can't really put my finger on what exactly her point was!

I hated the way it was written in "teenage" fashion - with LOTS OF CAPITAL LETTERS TO MAKE IMPORTANT STATEMENTS - and lots of swear words to shock. If you can't get your ideas across without resorting to this sort of gimmick you really shouldn't be writing a supposedly serious book on woman's issues. Also like many other people who have reviewed this book I thought the mentioning of the child covered in napalm was offensive - perhaps this was meant as another shock tactic? I disliked having her opinions thrust down my throat as if they were right without proper balanced argument and I particularly disliked the attack on Katie Perry which was unnecessary and unpleasant. She may not be Caitlin's sort of person but it doesn't mean she is a bad role model. Frankly a worse role model for women would be someone who drinks too much, took drugs and sleeps around a lot. Remind you of someone?

This was a book about how to be Caitlin Moran and not about how to be a women and if I could have given it zero stars I would have.
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126 of 140 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars If this is modern feminism, I despair for humanity, 20 Sept. 2012
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This review is from: How To Be a Woman (Paperback)
I was deeply, deeply unimpressed by this book. I think the main problem is it continually being touted as 'the next wave of feminism' or as some kind of modern feminist keystone, rather than what it actually is: a rather unexciting memoir interspersed with lots of "I am right listen to me CAPS LOCK" rants. If I'd expected the latter, maybe I wouldn't have felt so totally let down. Honestly, the only reason I finished the darn thing was so I could write a fully informed review explaining how much I disliked it, and why.

Firstly, the structure of the book is haphazard at best. It starts off fairly well, but once Moran moves from a fairly straightforward autobiographical account of her childhood, any sort of attempt at structure falls to pieces. It's a pretty disorganised bunch of vaguely-related anecdotes and angry rants. To be fair, it's probably quite difficult to write a part-autobiography-part-faux-feminist-manifesto and keep a good structure, and maybe I could have overlooked it if the content was good. But it wasn't.

I hate the way Moran presents her opinions. (Note: I don't necessarily hate the opinions themselves., but the presentation drives me crazy.) It's full of contradictions and dogma. She likes to tell you exactly what is ok, and exactly what is not. There isn't much middle ground. Just because HER wedding was a disaster and a waste of money, she tells you NOT to have a wedding. Right. It couldn't possibly be that her wedding didn't suit her and her husband's personal taste and needs, it is the case that weddings are stupid and you shouldn't have one. Strip clubs are WRONG. Burlesque is RIGHT. Katie Price is WRONG. Lady Gaga is RIGHT. Heels are WRONG. Leopard print is RIGHT.

... You get the idea. She contradicts herself constantly (eg. kids make you into a super human and once you're a mum you are better than Obama/don't feel the pressure to have kids) and it is incredibly frustrating.

However, what I hate even more is the extent of her dedication to social justice. She rants for pages and pages about the pressures put on women - and I sincerely believe she does care - but then in the next instant, will write off entire groups of people with shocking generalisations. She makes a disparaging comment about men running around pretending to be goblins on World of Warcraft - thanks, Moran. Because only MEN play video games, and it's ok to poke fun at the losers who do that, right? But god forbid you mention the glass ceiling and she'll explode. For someone so concerned with social equality, she is far too ready to write off other groups of people and judge them in the same way she's asking people not to judge women. It hacks me off.

Which brings me on nicely to the constant pop culture references she feels obliged to throw in as often as possible. A lot of the time, her references are solid, and she at least knows something about what she's referencing, but then it comes to video games, or manga (she calls Gaga a 'manga cartoon'), and she is embarrassingly uninformed - it feels like she's just chucking in the references like "HEY I KNOW SOME STUFF." It's fine that she doesn't know anything about some things - just stop pretending to. Stop writing about them. And worst of all, stop disparaging them.

She writes to shock, without actually being particularly shocking. When she does shock, it's in an offensive way - the Napalm joke obviously offended a lot of other people, myself included. Why did she think that was ok? How is that consistent with her philosophy? Again, it felt like she was just throwing in a reference to say "hey look I know about a famous photograph".

The chapter about her abortion was frustrating, and I wanted to like it - as she does say, it's not something often talked about, and I would have been interested for her to actually address the stigma. Instead, she implies that there is more stigma attached to being a mother aborting than a teenager aborting. It's like she's trying to big up her own circumstance - that just isn't true, at all. She dismisses one method of abortion as something that "everyone says" just "freaks you out", which really angered me. I'm not asking her to be a source of accurate medical information, but to just dismiss one legitimate method that many women go through just off-hand, without having actually experienced it - it seemed kind of irresponsible, to me. I just think a little research would have gone a long way. When it comes to the description of her abortion - as with childbirth - she seems to enjoy fear-mongering. Again, that might genuinely be her experience, but I think she gets carried away in making it sound like poor little Caitlin enduring all these terrible things - when SO MANY people go through this, she's hardly special. Too much drama. Then, she dismisses out of hand anyone who dares to feel upset after an abortion, because PROPER feminists wouldn't. Like her (unsurprisingly.)

It all boils down to Moran being RIGHT, about everything. Which leads to an awful lot of sweeping statements about incredibly complicated ethical (and occasionally religious) issues - which deserve thorough consideration and carefully constructed arguments. Moran doesn't do this. Instead, she capitalises angrily and yells about her opinions.

Moran's mostly right about the problems with modern society. They need to be addressed. What we really need isn't more dogma, but the opening up of a platform to discuss them. I don't think Moran's book does that.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Jeremy Clarkson of Feminism, 2 Jan. 2013
This review is from: How To Be a Woman (Paperback)
A book about feminism for people who don't like books. Or feminism. Or thinking.
Started well and it does throw up some interesting ideas but rapidly degenerates into a shouty, bombastic diatribe that can't even maintain a consistent train of thought. Why didn't the editor point out the glaring inconsistencies and the illogical conclusions? Did anybody actually read the manuscript before it was sent to the printers? I couldn't work out if the way in which ideas are slung haphazardly onto the page in the second half of the book is indicative of laziness or blatant contempt for the reader. The arrogance demonstrated by the title indicates that it's most likely the latter. And while I can appreciate Ms Moran's desire to be approachable and reach a wide audience the fact that she refers to only one book throughout (and manages to misquote it)means it's unlikely that she was ever going to be accused of the kind of elitism and academic posturing that would render her work too challenging for a mainstream audience.
It would be easy to dismiss this book as a lightweight piece of fluff but, astoundingly, Ms Moran is being touted as a beacon of modern feminism on the strength of this piece of flabby, self-absorbed bluster.
I got my copy as a Christmas present. Don't bother buying a new copy; second hand book stores will have plenty of copies in stock quite soon.
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366 of 415 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Banal and unoriginal, 29 July 2011
This review is from: How To Be a Woman (Paperback)
I bought this book on a whim, having read a couple of rather mixed reviews. In that context, I was anticipating something entertaining and mildly stimulating. I was not expecting Isiah Berlin. But even against those less-than-demanding criteria, this book disappoints hugely.

Caitlin Moran entered journalism as a teenager, after winning competitions in national broadsheets including The Observer and The Times. Tellingly, these are omitted from this largely autobiographical book, which instead has her entering journalism at 16 when she went to work for Melody Maker. No doubt this version of history is more consistent with the edgy rise from working class obscurity she seeks to portray. I'm three years younger than Moran, and used to read her columns in my parents' copy of the Times, until I left home at 18, switched my allegiance to The Guardian, and lost track of her. So it was a strange experience to pick up this book and discover that, in terms of her attitudes and prose style, she seems to have become frozen in time as that precocious 16 year old - a kind of journalistic Dorian Gray. But what was endearing in a teenager is utterly infuriating - and oddly jarring- in a mature woman. The language is relentlessly mannered, with copious use of capitals and outdated slang from the 90s. This I could forgive if the book contained a single original idea, but the content is as banal, derivative and vacuous as the prose.

Take the chapter where she bemoans the lack of suitable female role models, and bizarrely juxtaposes Philip Roth with Demi Moore, Kim Cattrall and Madonna. This is simply baffling- comparing not so much apples and oranges as apples and donkeys. I don't even think she's trying to make the arguably valid but hardly original point that male writers tend towards the magisterial, zeitgeist-defining, century-spanning 'great novel', whereas women writers have tended to excel more at the (less esteemed) minute examination of the interior, domestic life. If she were, she might have found Margaret Attwood, Helen Simpson, or Anne Tyler more illuminating comparators than Moore et al. But by this stage you have started to form the impression that Moran's vision is entirely bounded by the confines of her media existence- a suspicion confirmed when you reach the Acknowledgements section and realise that, family aside, you recognise a good half of these names from the narrow world of broadsheet and TV journalism.

Ultimately, this is not a book about feminism at all- it's a not terribly interesting memoir with a spurious theme bolted on. Moran wants to validate her own preferences (burlesque clubs but not strip joints; Lady Gaga but not Katie Price), but she does not have the creativity or intellectual ability of, say, Camille Paglia, to do so convincingly. And speaking of Paglia, here's a funny thing. Only one feminist writer/thinker is namechecked in the entire book- Germaine Greer. If you are purporting to write a book about modern feminism, I'm not sure whether that speaks to arrogance, ignorance, or extreme laziness, but it's hardly impressive.

It could be argued that this book has some utility if it introduces WAG-obsessed young female readers of celebrity gossip magazines to a semblance of feminist ideas, in a language they'll readily identify with. But as a commentary on modern feminism for the mature, intelligent woman, it's a dead loss. If that's what you're looking for, give this a miss and try Natasha Walter, Maureen Dowd or Barbara Ehrenreich instead.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Is it really all about the knickers?, 19 Sept. 2011
By 
Ms P. E. Vernon "Verns" (Weston-Super-Mare, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: How To Be a Woman (Paperback)
I love Caitlin Moran. She is a very funny and prolific columnist who deservedly won Columnist of the Year in 2010. My 83-year-old Dad ADORES Caitlin Moran, but I could not, in all conscience, lend him this book as he would be (a) embarrassed and (b) disillusioned. I just couldn't do that to him.

Caitlin Moran writes that she said to her agent, 'I want to write a book about feminism! A funny, but polemic, book about feminism! Like 'The Female Eunuch' - but with jokes about my knickers!' And that, in a nutshell, is what I found difficult about the book - too much about Caitlin's knickers and too many exclamation marks.

And not just her knickers, either. There is WAY too much information about her teenage masturbatory habits, her alternative words for 'vagina' (yes, she embraces the 'c' word with great enthusiasm), her abortion, her relationships, and casual drug-taking on what seems like an epic scale. I did at first wonder whether my distaste for parts of the book meant that I am, after all, a prude. But I think it's just that all this gets in the way of a serious and important message. And if I can't pass on that important message to my Dad, or my daughter, simply because I don't want to embarrass them, then isn't she merely preaching to the converted? Ironically, Caitlin Moran writes that she wanted to do this book because feminism is too important to be discussed only by female academics; she wanted it to be championed in a light-hearted way to make it accessible. Hmmm.

Make no mistake, there are terrific bits in this book. I enjoyed the ranting against Botox, Brazilians, hen nights, stilettos and £600 handbags (even if they are easy targets), and I won't forget her advice to treat sexism as simply bad manners. And there are some wonderful one-liners, too. For instance, she is scathing about Katie Price and the oft-repeated message that the former Jordan is a feminist because she's making oodles of money. But, as Moran puts it: 'Women who, in a sexist world, pander to sexism to make their fortune are Vichy France with tits'. What woman wouldn't love that phrase?

So, on balance, I'd recommend it to the broad-minded, who by that very definition are probably converts to the feminist cause anyway. Sigh.
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148 of 169 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars How to be a self-indulgent, tasteless child., 25 Aug. 2011
This review is from: How To Be a Woman (Paperback)
Adverse effect of Kindles, they make it easy to purchase things you wouldn't dream of buying otherwise. I have long suspected that Caitlin Moran is a bit over-hyped. Her columns are sometimes funny, sometimes a pointless stream of conciousness, written while hungover (as she is happy to admit).
This book is an ill-conceived hybrid of the type of bare-all confessional that too many female journalists indulge in these days, and childish feminist drivel that a first-year student might burble while necking bottles of alcopop in the college bar. Hardcore pornography is demeaning to women, apparently. Who knew? She mistakes crudity for humour (if you want genuinely funny toilet humour, read "the Tent, the Bucket and Me"),and contradicts herself frequently- sexy lingerie is an essential, no, wait, big knickers are good and men don't care what you wear.
The unedited, under-informed and over-sharing style, which relies on capital letters to make her points, is of the kind you would expect in a teenage girl's diary. And I suspect herein is the issue. As she proudly tells us, a few times, she was employed as a journalist at 16. So Ms Moran has retained the writing style, and maturity, that served her so well back in the day. Her pronouncement that she is better than Barack Obama, because she is a mother, suggests that she takes the supermarket slogan "Because mums are heroes", a bit too literally. Michelle Obama might make the claim to be better than Barack, but not someone whose main contribution to society is a column about celebrities.
Lastly, and worst, she chooses to compare the imagined horror of a 10 year old boy seeing a bra, to the horror of the naked girl in the photo taken of children running from the My Lai massacre. At least, that's who I assume she meant when she blithely referenced "that Vietnamese kid covered in napalm". Beyond unfunny and tasteless, it smacked of ignorance and immaturity. Which, given what she tells us of her life, shouldn't be too surprising. How to be a woman? I think not.
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