Monday, 5 September 2011

I don't know how to be a woman

My boyfriend lent me Caitlin Moran's new book, 'How to be a Woman'. So far, everyone I've mentioned that fact to has asked why he bought it. It is, after all, a book about feminism. Perhaps this confusion points to why a book on feminism is still so necessary.

It's easy to dismiss anything to do with feminism as unnecessary, or boring. I did myself before I went to university, and met people who showed me that it was very much relevant and necessary in tackling issues such as rape and domestic abuse, issues which are still tainted by sexism. The recent 'slutwalks', sparked by the remark of a Canadian policeman that "Women should avoid dressing like sluts to avoid being raped" have shown that society still has a tendancy to blame the victim rather than the attacker. It would also be easy to mouth off on a moral crusade about why you're so much better than everybody else because you're into feminism. Well, you could do that, but it wouldn't help much. But there is still the assumption that the word 'feminist' means 'man-hating', even amongst the most enlightened people.

Caitlin Moran is a little weird, which is good. I remember coming across a copy of the book she wrote when she was 16 when I was clearing through the books in the store room in Oxfam, and it had a quote from Terry Pratchett on the back saying how amazing it was, and how surprising it was that someone so young could have written it. I also knew that she had a column for The Times, I think, although it might be the Guardian. Either way, she writes and makes a lot of money from it and is famous. The one column I've read by her was about how she wanted unique hair all her life, and she has now, finally, got it -- black hair with a silver streak down the front. Amazing.

And I found it really fun reading her book. It was hilarious (who says women can't be funny?) as well as addressing so many issues in a logical way. I think I'm inclined to agree with her when she says that high heeled shoes are absolutely pointless -- "No one can walk in them, not even the models" laughs a photoshoot photographer she once came across. So why do we wear them? Just because we think that everyone else is, and that is what is normal. We don't want to be strange. Well, we don't want to be THAT strange, although we do like to think that we're a little different, a little unusual, a little unique. But not TOO unique.

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