How to Be a Woman - Caitlin Moran Billed as “part memoir, part rant,” Caitlin Moran uses anecdotes from her own life to demonstrate the ongoing need for feminism in modern society. “Feminism” has sometimes been seen as a bad word or an overly political statement when all it really means is that the sexes ought to be equal. The girlfriend of an ex’s friend once proclaimed to me, “I don’t consider myself a feminist” and I knew right then and there that I could never be in the same room as this imbecile.

Seriously. I don’t understand how saying that you’re not a feminist is any different than saying you don’t believe black people deserve the same rights as whites. Or that Jews deserve the same rights as Christians. That dog owners deserve the same rights as cat owners. But maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, back to Moran. I think this is a great memoir, full of funny stories and insights into the feminist arena. I don’t particularly care for her writing style – she actually uses the word “rofling” to express how hard she was laughing – but I think that many of her points have value, and her stories of her adolescence are hysterical. I was less interested in the tales of douchey boyfriends and trips to strip clubs, but I suppose they fit the theme. I just couldn’t relate to many of the later anecdotes the way I felt was necessary for the book to hit home the way Moran intended. Her experiences are often presented as so universal that it’s absurd, but that’s certainly not true for me. Yes, coming up with colorful alternatives to the word “vagina” has taken up a small percentage of my brain power. But taking E and justifying a borderline emotionally abusive relationship haven’t.

Nevertheless, Moran brings up many excellent questions that are often overlooked in the larger discussions because they are not directly related to reproductive rights, but I definitely agree that Brazilian waxes, strippers, and wedding mania should be part of the feminist conversation.

The wedding thing is a huge one for me. Ever since I first started talking seriously about marrying someone, I always intended to spend ~100 bucks on a white dress from Macy’s and stand on a park gazebo with a JOP and a couple close friends and call it a day. But the ex with the friend whose girlfriend wasn’t a feminist actually brought that up when he dumped me (“My family would never let me not have a wedding”? Really, asshat? That’s the problem here? Fuck off). And several other people have told me flat out that THEY DON’T BELIVE ME when I say I have never stared longingly at pictures of wedding dresses. No, I believe that weddings are a huge waste of money and an unnecessary source of stress, and therefore I have no desire in throwing a giant, overblown party where I feel obligated to invite the cousins I haven’t seen in a dozen years and the coworkers who don’t even know the date of my birthday. But, I understand that other people want that and I am willing to, at the very least, tolerate that desire.

Because women should be allowed to make their own decisions, as long as they are not causing harm to others. That includes whether or not we want weddings, a full set of pubic hair, or to take our clothes off for money. On this issue, Moran knocks it out of the park. That’s what feminism ought to be about, not just the politically charged rhetoric. Making it clear that women are capable of independent, intelligent thought is the first step towards a future in which political pundits don’t call women sluts for demanding that health insurance cover birth control or that state legislatures don’t pass laws requiring women to carry stillborn babies to a full term and saying it’s safe because farm animals can do it.

I think Moran shoots herself in the foot, however, by making sweeping generalizations in support of her opinions. She is entitled to her opinions and she has every right to pen those opinions for others to read. But the result is that her book comes up short as the new feminist manifesto she wishes it to be. Good, certainly funny, but not great.