Reading Corner – How To Be a Woman

I finished How To Be a Woman, by Caitlin Moran recently. What an interesting read. I don’t agree with all of her opinions throughout the book but some are bang on and it’s entertaining reading to boot.

I marked a few passages as I was reading that jumped out at me for one reason or another that I wanted to share. In no particular order here’s a peak into the mind of Caitlin Moran and her thoughts on womanhood. And my subsequent two cents.

Regarding hair and the necessary evil of hair removal, which I know all women can relate to…

“…it is the hair that has the most money, and attention, spent on it. Hair in the ‘wrong’ place: legs, underarms, upper lip, chin, arms, nipples, cheeks, and across the sundry contours of your pelvis. Against this hair, lifelong wars of attrition are waged. It informs the ebb and flow of day-to-day life – the scheduling of event. A man may think, I have a party next week. I’d better roughly flannel my face before I tootle out the door. A woman, on the other hand, will call up the calendar in her head – like the mid-air screens in Minority Report – and start a cycle of furious planning, based around hair management.” SO TRUE! Moran writes a colorful scenario after this comment, a conversation between two friends regarding being ready for a party and when to wax, when to apply the self tanner, etc. and what these various actions mean in terms of how far things might go with a certain someone the night of the party. I know we’ve all been there.

“When the subject turns to abortion, cosmetic intervention, birth, motherhood, sex, love, work, misogyny, fear, or just how you feel in your own skin, women still won’t often tell the truth to each other unless they are very, very drunk. Perhaps the endlessly reported rise in female binge-drinking is simply modern women’s attempt to communicate with one another.” This reflection makes me chuckle, but also a little sad that sometimes we do need a little liquid courage to share things with one another.

“…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…”  I find this horrifying for our youth and at the same time, I’m so glad I’m not dating or part of the generation that has been brainwashed by this way of thinking. I have a friend who is all about the Brazilian so I don’t mean to be so harsh. Clearly it’s a personal choice and she claims it has hygienic advantages. Still, I’m horrified by the idea that our young children are growing up with the belief that it’s the way things have to be. I’m sure in the end, it’s just another trend that may eventually give way to the next trend, like big hair of the 80’s.

“When a woman says, ‘I have nothing to wear!’, what she really means is, ‘There’s nothing here for me who I’m supposed to be today.'” I’ve never thought of it that way, but so true. Maybe not ‘who I’m supposed to be’ but the impression I want to give at this event, activity, etc. I guess that’s just another way of saying, ‘who I’m supposed to be.’

On the subject of giving birth…

“It is like a mental bushfire. You get rid of a lot of emotional deadwood. Do you currently get wound up about poor customer service, or ill-made sandwiches, or how your legs look? You won’t when you’ve been dragged backwards through the brightly burning gates of hell during a 48-hour labour!” LOL She had a particularly bad birth of her first child but tells the harrowing story with humor. I have to say, I’m perfectly happy to not partake in that particular life adventure.

On the subject of children…

“Women are always being asked when they’re going to have children.” I know! WHY??!!! It is not a must-have milestone for every person. It can be a choice people!

On the subject of being productive in the workplace…

“If you employ a parent in your place or work, yes, they may occasionally have to take the day off, to nurse a child through Dengue fever. But my God, I bet they’re the only people who know the correct way to kick the photocopier when it’s broken, and can knock you up a six-month strategy plan in the time it takes for the elevator to go from the 24th floor to the lobby.” I have to respectfully disagree with this and almost didn’t include it for fear that I may sound like I’m flaming her. But I’m not. I just have a different opinion. I don’t think that the experience of having children automatically makes a person more productive and able to multitask better than those that don’t. It’s possible that individual people experience a massive ramping up of their ability to juggle multiple things after having children, when compared to their ability before having children. But I have known plenty of women, before they had children, or who have chosen a childfree lifestyle, who make multitasking an art form.

“But believing in an afterlife totally negates your current existence. It’s like an insidious and destabilising mental illness. Underneath every day – every action, every word – you think it doesn’t really matter if you screw up this time around because you can just sort it all out in paradise.” Hmm, I certainly don’t approach life that way, but it’s an interesting perspective and it’s possible this could be true for some people. That’s kind of scary.

“Every woman who chooses – joyfully, thoughtfully, calmly, of their own free will and desire – not to have a child does womankind a massive favour 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.” Hallelujah! I agree!

There’s so much more to digest in this book. As you can see, she covers a wide range of topics and I’ve only shown you a glimpse of a few. So go ahead ladies, pick up a copy and check it out. It’s ok if some of it is wacky or in your face with things you wouldn’t normally talk about. Maybe that’s a good thing.

Sure God created man before woman.  But then you always make a rough draft before the final masterpiece.
~ Unknown

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2 comments

  1. Sounds like an interesting read. I may have to pick this one up if I ever have time to read again lol. I am going to politely disagree with your interpretation of the passage about parents in the workplace. Unless I am missing some context you didn’t include, I don’t think she is commenting on multitasking abilities, but more about efficiency and creativity amid chaos and crisis. The main skill in parenting involves battling constant entropy. It’s also useful in the workplace and a skill that is unlikely to be fully developed until you have simultaneously managed a sick child and a bored child while you yourself haven’t slept in what feels like a decade.

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    1. You have an interesting perspective and it’s possible that’s where she was coming from. However, the comment was surrounded by other text that focused on multitasking ability so it is hard to judge this outside of the full context. Just before the comment you are referring to, she also says, “Give a new mother a sleeping child for an hour, and she can achieve ten times more than a childless person. ‘Multi-tasking’ doesn’t come near to the quantum productivity of someone putting in an online grocery order, writing a report, cooking the tea, counseling a weeping friend on the phone, mending a broken hoover – all within the space of a 3 pm nap.”

      When under the gun, people can do amazing things. I just don’t agree that one has to have a child to know how to tap into these skills. Any kind of pressure or deadline can push a person – if said person is responsible and cares about said thing that needs to be done. There are plenty of irresponsible people, with children and without, who don’t give things their full effort or who do the bare minimum. I’ve been exposed to a lot of irresponsible parents in the last few years who do not take their employment seriously and with that in mind I perceived the comment as though all people with children are better than those without. But that’s might not have been her true intent with the comment, simply my interpretation of it. That’s the problem with generalizations, there are always exceptions to the rule. On both sides.

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