How to be a Woman

In the same weekend as Caitlin Moran took home the prize for “Non-Fiction” at the Galaxy National Book Awards, APW organised a book club meet-up for its readers across the globe on her fantastic book How to be a Woman.

A Practical Wedding is the only “wedding blog” I still read daily. It’s a group of intelligent, feisty women talking about weddings and marriage and feminism, and I love it. The last couple of book clubs they’ve done have been one weekends I wasn’t free or books I wasn’t so interested in, but when Meg announced that How to be a Woman was the next title we’d read together, I promptly ordered it on amazon and put the date in my diary.

Most of APW’s readers are US or UK based, but I found one other Benelux based reader, Amanda, and we made plans to meet for lunch in Antwerp on Saturday to talk about feminism and weddings and bras. Yes, bras. Actually, neither of us are actually from Benelux (I being British and she being Swiss-Mexican), but still.

I LOVED this book. I read much of it on the train to Luxembourg last week, laughing out loud at her slightly inappropriate but hilarious sense of humour and wanting to read aloud whole passages to the rest of the carriage.

I am a feminist. I have been for as long as I can remember. I have read The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir, frequently got very angry at the images of women that are used to sell everything from Philadelphia to furniture polish, and had heated theological debates over who exactly should be submitting to who. I simultaneously love watching Jane Austen films, would never ever ever burn my bra (being not exactly flat chested, it is my best friend) and become dangerously distracted every time a baby is within 50m. None of which I believe is remotely contradictory.

Why? Because as the wonderful Miss Moran so clearly states,

“The purpose of feminism isn’t to make a particular type of woman. The idea that there are inherently wrong and inherently right ‘types’ of women is what’s screwed feminism for so long… What is feminism? Simply the belief that women should be as free as men, however nuts, dim, deluded, badly dressed, fat receding, lazy and smug they might be. Are you a feminist? Hahaha. Of course you are.”

So I loved this book. I didn’t agree with her on anything and I think she’d be ok with that. But what she had to say about bras, fashion, sexism at work,having children, not having children, the way women imagine a thousand scenarios in their head every minute, waxing, weddings, our relationship with food, ageing… I wanted to frequently exclaim, “YES. Exactly“.

Who wants to borrow my copy first?