First aired on Q (31/7/12)
Caitlin Moran has been called "the British Tina Fey" and a "feminist hero for our times." She's one of the U.K.'s most successful columnists, being named Columnist of the Year by the British Press Awards in 2010, and Critic and Interviewer of the Year in 2011 for her work at the Times of London. She's wickedly funny, refreshingly honest and smart as heck. She's a bestselling author in the U.K. thanks to her new book How To Be a Woman
and now she's ready to bring her own brand of feminist humour to this side of the pond.
How To Be a Woman is a memoir, rant and manifesto all rolled into one. Written in Moran's trademark self-deprecating wit and informed by her working-class background, How To Be a Woman addresses things that affect contemporary women's lives, from menstruation and abortion to Academy Award fashion and the Spice Girls. She may cover a wide array of topics in the book, but it's done with a singular goal in mind: to take back the term "feminist."
"Sadly, it's a word that's sadly been hijacked. People think it just means an angry lady who hates all men and dresses very badly and probably hasn't had sex for awhile," Moran said to Q guest host Terry O'Reilly. "Whereas of course feminism is a very simple and straightforward thing: it just simply means being equal to boys. That's such a lovely and beautiful and revolutionary idea."
Moran began thinking about writing the book when she realized how few women — especially young women "whose knees haven't yet gone and have beautiful dewy skin" — self-identify as feminists. Moran argues that as long as you believe women have the right to be equal to men, to make the same amount of money, to have the same access to education, to have sexual harrassment be a crime, then you are a feminist. "Everyone's unconsciously thought that once we've made the perfect feminist that we can all point at her and go, 'Now every other woman in the world be like that,'" she said. But that's not the case and Moran believes this is an important message for women who are uncomfortable calling themselves feminists.
"Feminists can drive pink cars. Feminists can be stay-at-home moms. Feminists can wear high-heeled shoes. You can do whatever you want as long as you believe you're equal to men and, you know, you're not being horrible to other people."
Moran also wrote the book because she wanted to bring topics that people are uncomfortable with — like abortion, menstruation and female sexuality — into the public discourse. "It's so recently that women got the vote, it's so recently since women's liberation and there's so much work to be done," Moran said. And the more we talk about it, the more calling yourself a feminist will be seen as normal, the more legislation can be passed and maybe, Moran suggests, the more fun feminism can become.
"Feminism is a revolution and revolutions are fun."