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Customer Review

528 of 578 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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Showing 1-10 of 13 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 6 Dec 2011 09:13:15 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 23 May 2015 20:00:14 BDT]

Posted on 7 Dec 2011 15:34:01 GMT
Last edited by the author on 28 Feb 2012 15:21:42 GMT
In fact the napalm joke was indeed tasteless to say the least, even sick. As the daughter of an Vietnam vet and a mother, I can tell you that I found it quite disturbing. Just plain not funny at all, especially when considering those who have and who presently endure the horrors of war.
I also thought that the continuous, casual mention of drugs was a bit much, again not all that funny, too many lives are screwed up and lost all together in this other sort of "war". I have to say that the mention of Oprah's bum size doesn't ring a bell for me either...then again I'm not really into tabloids.

Posted on 12 Dec 2011 08:46:33 GMT
Last edited by the author on 12 Dec 2011 08:48:41 GMT
Yes. I agree about the napalm jibe. Made me wince. Am still reading the book so I can't comment on the end of it. I am enjoying it and buying it as xmas presents for daughter and others. It may have needed a bit more time in the proof reading department ? as I have come across one or two typos that have made whole sentances a bit confusing to understand.

Posted on 28 Dec 2011 11:56:23 GMT
Goose says:
Excellent review and incredibly helpful. I was in two minds as to whether to buy and read and thanks to your review, I think I shall leave it on the shelf!

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Dec 2011 14:55:25 GMT
C. M. Barton says:
I agree about the napalm joke - I was shocked and I think an editor should have deleted it. Another surprising thing was how much detail the author gave us about things that are usually kept private, including the difficult birth of her first child and an earlier abortion - although that's possibly just me being rather squeamish and uptight... However, on the whole I enjoyed the book and feel it was worth reading. It was mostly very amusing and had something to say and I would recommend it to my sisters and friends.

Posted on 18 Jan 2012 11:27:26 GMT
oldbillie says:
Great review! Not least because it coincides with my opinion of this book, which is that it's funny and enjoyable, yet highly contradictory and rather conceited. As you say, she draws a line through every issue and tells us that everything on one side of it is fun, sexy, life-enhancing, and everything on the other side is disgusting, degrading and impermissible. Let's dress up to the tees, ladies ... but NOT in high heels (because I don't like them.) Let's adopt a zero-tolerant attitude towards sexism ... and I shall decide what is sexist, and what is funny and flirtatious. Frankly, as a feminist tract it's a complete mess. I liked the autobiographical bits, though.

Posted on 2 Mar 2012 16:44:56 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 2 Mar 2012 16:48:46 GMT]

In reply to an earlier post on 31 Mar 2012 23:48:07 BDT
Betty says:
Surely opening up a discourse on women having abortions is a feminist argument in it's own sake; more talk and less judgement on any woman's choice to have an abortion is surely a good thing! But that's probably a sideline! Anyway, the review was good, thank you :) Wanted to buy this book after seeing it online, Caitlin seemed funny and witty on her website, but that kind of 'fun' and 'witt' that gets painful after a while, so was wondering if it would get annoying, or end up having any substance. Don't think i'll be buying it in the end, i'll save up for my Simone De Beauvoir books instead! :)

Posted on 11 Apr 2012 22:18:50 BDT
I agree with this review.
Buoyed by the positive reviews, I bought it for my wife for Xmas. She read it for a few days and put it down, stating that it was boring and boarding on offensive at times. I picked it up, expecting to have a different reaction to my wife but after a promising start it quickly waned.
I agree that it seems as though Moran would be hard work to be around; she seems very intolerant of anything apart from her own opinion.
Some bits were amusing but agree that the main impression it left with me was irritation.

Posted on 14 Jun 2012 23:32:08 BDT
M. G. Jones says:
I agree. I actually snorted with laughter in the beginning, but I wasn't sure if it was going down hill or if her style was just wearing thin and more suited to a shorter magazine article. I think both.
She started to lose me when she's going on about weddings, and women's shoes, which are the subject of many a cheap joke about how women behave, and she didn't stray far from that, to be honest. She seems to have bunged in the last arguments, about why women should/should not marry, have or not have children, or abortions, more because they were on her list than because she had a great deal to say. Her descrption of the horrors of giving birth was, well, horrible, and I'm not sure why it was there.
In the last few chapters the name dropping grated, too. OK, you're VERY SUCCESSFULL. You MET Lady Gaga. You have a little crush on her. You met Katie Price and you really don't. Hm hm, blah blah.
Disappointing and arbitary. NOT a book on feminism.
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