Alternately titled: How To Be A Woman Book Club
Last week I hosted book club. I was particularly excited about it because I couldn’t wait to discuss the book I had picked. It was How to Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran. And it was fantastic.
It led to so many incredible conversations about feminism and love and sex and relationships and kids and money and marriage, and well… on being a woman.
I’ve mentioned before just how much I love my book club, and nights like that one just confirm it. Getting together with so many great woman and having real, true, deep conversations is just incredible (okay, maybe not all of our conversations were deep… more minutes than I care to admit were spent talking about the Bachelor).
I started off the night by making everyone stand up and yell “I AM A STRIDENT FEMINIST!”
Really. I did.
My friends did not think I was serious, but I was! If they said it timidly I made them say it again louder! Girl power, yo!
As usual, copious amounts of wine were involved, and apparently I drank so much that after everyone had left I became super creepy and posted a weird picture of myself staring into the camera on instagram. I woke up with no recollection of doing this, and it wasn’t until Kevin said to me “you loser! Look at what you posted last night! What a creeper!” that it came back to me. It was promptly deleted, but note to self: DO NOT INSTAGRAM WHILE INTOXICATED. Bad idea.
I really loved this book. I related to so much of it, and even when I disagreed with some of what she had to say (and I disagreed with a fair amount), she made me think. She made me evaluate why it is I feel the way I do. She made me stand up (literally) and yell “I AM A FEMINIST!”
She writes about feminism in a way you can actually relate to, as if you were meeting a good friend for a drink at a bar and just happened to fall into a deep conversation about feminist theory and gender inequality and how modern day pornography is affecting our youth.
Plus, she is absolutely positively hilarious. I laughed out loud more times than I can count.
Fair warning, she is pretty liberal, talks a lot about sex, and swears like a sailor, but even if you are on the conservative side I think it’s worth reading. Because more than anything else, she is just pro-women. She wants us to stand up for ourselves and say “Hey! Why is that random man getting paid 30% more than I am for doing the exact same job?! What kind of bullshit is this!” instead of just accepting it. She wants “women to have more of the world, not just because it would be fairer, but because it would be better.”
And I agree.
I could go on and on about how great this book is and why you should read it, but instead I’m going to post some of my favorite excerpts.
Grab a hold of your lady-balls and enjoy!
(and if you’re not into reading everything below, you can get the gist of the book by watching this entertaining short video here)
On Being A Feminist:
“We need to reclaim the word ‘feminism.’ We need the word ‘feminism’ back real bad. When statistics come in saying that only 29 percent of American women would describe themselves as feminists—and only 42 percent of British women—I used to think, What do you think feminism IS, ladies? What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? ‘Vogue,’ by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that good shit GET ON YOUR NERVES? Or were you just DRUNK AT THE TIME OF SURVEY?”
“It really is important you say these words out loud. “I AM A FEMINIST.” If you feel you cannot say it – not even standing on the ground – I would be alarmed. It’s probably one of the most important things a woman will ever say: the equal of ‘I love you,’ ‘Is it a boy or a girl?’ or ‘No! I’ve changed my mind! I don’t want bangs!’ Say it. SAY IT! SAY IT NOW! Because if you can’t, you’re basically bending over, saying, ‘Kick my arse and take my vote, please, patriarchy.’”
“We’re at risk of a situation in which every boy expects to undress a girl and find a thorough wax job, and every girl — terrified by the idea of being rejected, or thought abnormal — waxes for them. My beautician told me she has had girls of 12 and 13 coming in for Brazilians.”
Personal note: On Saturday I had the most painful Brazilian wax of my life. It was so bad I almost asked her to stop, and while I laid there in pure torture, trying not to involuntarily kick the esthetician, it was as if I could hear Caitlin Moran whispering in my ear “why the fuck are you doing this to yourself?” Ladies, WHY DO WE DO THIS TO OURSELVES?
On Having (Or Not Having) Children:
“Women are so frequently scared about their biological clocks – YOU’VE ONLY GOT TWO YEARS LEFT TO HAVE A BABY – that they never get the chance to consider if they actually care or not if the damn thing grinds to a halt. With female fertility being presented as something limited and due to vanish quite soon, there’s a risk of women panicking and having a baby “just in case” in much the way they buy a half price cashmere cardigan too sizes too small in a sale.“
“No one has ever claimed for a moment that childless men have missed out on a vital aspect of their existence, and were the poorer and crippled for it…every woman who chooses — joyfully, thoughtfully, calmly, of her own free will and desire — not to have a child does womankind a massive favor in the long term. We need more women who are allowed to prove their worth as people, rather than being assessed merely for their potential to create new people.”
“Feminism needs Zero Tolerance over baby angst. In the 21st century, it cant be about who we might make, and what they might do, anymore. It has to be about who were are, what we are going to do.”
“I cannot understand antiabortion arguments that center on the sanctity of life. As a species, we’ve fairly comprehensively demonstrated that we don’t believe in the sanctity of life. The shrugging acceptance of war, famine, epidemic, pain, and lifelong, grinding poverty show us that, whatever we tell ourselves, we’ve made only the most feeble of efforts to really treat human life as sacred.”
On Gender Equality and Sexism:
“These days, sexism is a bit like Meryl Streep, in a new film: sometimes you don’t recognize it straightaway… very often, a woman can have left a party, caught the bus home, washed her face, got into bed, read 20 minutes of The Female Eunuch and put the light out before she puts the light back on again, sits bold upright and shouts, ‘Hang on—I’VE JUST HAD SOME SEXISM AT ME. THAT WAS SOME SEXISM! WHEN THAT MAN CALLED ME “SUGAR TITS”—THAT WAS SEXISM, AND NOT JUST AN HONEST MISPRONUNCIATION OF THE NAME “ANDREA.”‘
“Ladies, we are at a massive disadvantage in the workplace. Your male peers are flirting with their male bosses constantly. The average work place is like fucking Bromancing the Stone.”
“When people suggest that what, all along, has been holding women back is other women bitching about each other, I think they are severely overestimating the power of a catty zinger during a cigarette break. We have to remember that snidely saying, ‘Her hair’s a bit limp on top’ isn’t what is keeping womankind from closing the 30 perfect pay gap and a place on the board of directors.”
“Simply being able to vote isn’t the same as true equality. It’s difficult to see the glass ceiling because it’s made of glass. Virtually invisible. What we need is for more birds to fly above it and shit all over it, so we can see it properly.”
On Strip Clubs:
“…if a white man suggested starting a cleaning agency that only employed black cleaners, dressed up in plantation clothing, and being excessively cowed and deferential to their employers, the entire world would be up in arms…but what are strip clubs and lap dancing clubs if not ‘light entertainment’ versions of the entire history of misogyny?”
“if women are having to strip to get an education – in a way that male teenage students are notably not – then that’s a gigantic political issue, not a reason to keep strip clubs going. “
“Just as pornography isn’t inherently wrong – it’s just some fucking – so pole-dancing, or lap-dancing or stripping, isn’t inherently wrong – it’s just some dancing. So long as women are doing it for fun – because they want to, and they are in a place where they won’t be misunderstood, and because it seems ridiculous and amusing, and something that might very well end with you leaning against a wall, crying with laughter as your friends try to mend the crotch-split in your leggings with a safety pin – then it’s a simple open-and-shut case of carry on, girls. Feminism is behind you.”
“In 2010, Iceland – with a lesbian prime minister and a parliament that is 50 percent female – became the first country in the world to outlaw strip clubs for feminist, rather than religious, reasons. ‘I guess the men of Iceland will have to used to the idea that women are not for sale.’ “
I highly doubt you read this far, but if you did, hurrah!
(that’s me pretending to be British!)
Have you read How to Be A Woman? What did you think? Would you read it?
Most importantly, do you consider yourself a feminist?