Before I went on holiday last year, I asked for book recommendations. More than one person suggested this book, but I was unsure. I had seen reviews that either said 'This book is utterly brilliant' or 'This has told me nothing I didn't know before'. I had started to form strong opinions myself, so decided it was perhaps unfair to do so without reading it.
It sat on my Kindle for months, until the sun came out. I read 91% on beaches and 9% on the Sun Terrace at a spa hotel. In the end, I concluded that both points of view were valid!
I know that Caitlin Moran arouses strong opinions. I used to follow her on Twitter. she was fun, but only in small doses. I saw her as part of a clique of women who had it all and looked down on lesser mortals with disdain. I assumed that hse was some trustafarian, gliding effortlessly into a high-paid column. In actual fact she grew up in extreme poverty, and was barely educated, and she writes about this interestingly.
She says some sensible things in the book. Two examples which may seem trivial but are actually quite important. One is to wear flat shoes, or at least shoes you can run away in. And big comfy knickers, that don't dig in, are not only more comfortable but look better than silly briefs that give a VPL slicing each bum cheek diagonally in half. Falls into 'stuff I wish I'd known at 15. Or 25'.
To be honest, and fair, I don't think this book is aimed at my age group. And that makes the reading quite infuriating. Much of what she writes isn't novel or contentious, yet she seems to lack the insight that most sensible or intelligent women eventually reach these conclusions in time. But if it helps 15 or 25-year-old women, so be it.
There are a host of people who criticise CM for what amounts to her lack of academic grounding. I think a great deal of what masquerades as academic feminism is sham and irrelevant. Sham because it seems largely to consist of the churn of mantras and dictums, and irrelevant because its more interested in adopting the correct posture rather than critically examining the forces that lead to women's disadvantage and oppression.
Caitlin got be a hugely successful writer by a mixture of hard work and determining to be different, as well as being frankly, at times, quite brilliant. And yet she embraces a popular culture - epitomised by X-Factor style TV shows that don't especially or noticeably oppress women, but perpetuate a myth of what it takes to be successful - far too often, a body type which this popular culture has deemed to be the only one that matters. Caitlin's book is all about her personal experience; the title is hugely inaccurate.But she never stops to think whether some other woman may have a different experience or circumstances, and she reveals a lack of curiosity about anything outside her small, and I have to say, pretty shallow world.
It was quite an interesting book to read, but it's only a week since I finished it, and I've already forgotten most of it