Wednesday, February 27, 2013

February's Book: How to Be A Woman

February was not so well-spent on a book called How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran.


As I complained and complained about how painful reading this book was, one person suggested that life was too short to read books that I don't enjoy. What she doesn't know is my commitment to finishing something once I've started it. (With the exception of Kite Runner. Yeah, I said it!) So, let me explain why I started reading this in the first place. My dear friend Emerald wanted me to accompany her to a feminist book club because she wanted to force herself to be more social. Though we've both been to this club before, and it's absolutely not feminist in the way that white cis-gendered women sit around a table and talk about how they choose easy to read books because they don't want to be challenged too much. You know, don't think too much about your privilege or anything. So I started reading this book, painfully if you've forgotten, and then I realized I'd be in Utah during the group's meeting. Hecky darn! (That's in honor of my trip to Utah.)

I read it anyway, and I finished it. I'm going to save you ALL the trouble of reading it by telling you right now everything you need/want to know about the book.

PROLOGUE: THE WORST BIRTHDAY EVER

In this chapter she says:
"Traditional feminism would tell you that these are not the important issues: that we should concentrate on the big stuff like pay inequality, female circumcision in the Third World, and domestic abuse. and they are, obviously, pressing and disgusting and wrong, and the world cannot look itself squarely in the eye until they're stopped.

But all those littler, stupider, more obvious day-to-day problems with being a woman, in many ways, are just as deletrious to women's peace of mind. It is the 'Broken Windows' philosophy, transfered to female inequality. In the 'Broken Windows' theory, if a single broken window on an empty building is ignored, and not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may break into the building, and light fires, or become squatters.

Similarly, if we live in a climate where female pubic hair is considered distasteful, or famous and powerful women are constantly pilloried for being too fat or too thin, or badly dressed, then, eventually, people start breaking into women, and lighting fires in them. Women will get squatters. Clearly, this is not a welcome state of affairs. I don't know about you, but I don't want to wake up one morning and find a load of chancers in my lobby."
 The first paragraph here is not something I'm even going to touch yet. I'll bring that back around at the very end. What I want to bring to attention is while the Broken Windows philosophy is a great philosophy, it isn't to be used on people. Here's this "feminist" writer objectifying women quite literally by comparing them to buildings. Saying they're weak enough that if they were to have one thing wrong with them (this broken window) that people can come in and break all of the windows. Light a damn fire! Women aren't vacant buildings. They are strong, and they will survive a broken window.

"I don't know if we can talk about 'waves' of feminism any more -- by my reckoning, the next wave would be the fifth, and I suspect it's around the fifth wave that you stop referring to the individual waves, and start to refer, simply, to an incoming tide.

But if there is to be a fifth wave of feminism, I would hope that the main thing that distinguishes it from all that came before is that women counter the awkwardness, disconnect and bullshit of being a modern woman not by  shouting at it, internalising it, or squabbling about it -- but by simply pointing at it, and going 'HA!
', instead."

What an incredibly unhelpful thing to say. Ha? A man grabs a woman's ass, and she returns with a laugh? No, he suffered no consequences from that. It could've been considered an encouragement. Someone refers to a woman as a slut, and we respond with a laugh? No, now that seems okay. Now it seems like it was fine to call a woman a slut.

CHAPTER 1: I START BLEEDING!

Nothing to say. She gets her period and is really stupid about it.

CHAPTER 2: I BECOME FURRY!

She talks ignorantly about porn and how she needed to start shaving. I made notes, but they're not even important.

CHAPTER 3: I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO CALL MY BREASTS!

She explores a whole chapter about how she doesn't know what to call breasts, vagina, or penis. She skirts around the topic the entire chapter and acts like saying any of those words should be considered anything other than what they literally are. If those words make you uncomfortable, I really think you ought to take stock on your life and figure out where that discomfort comes from. These things need to be called what they are: breasts and vagina. Waltzing around a word perpetuates a stigma until everyone grows up unable to talk about sex, what they need, how they need it, and the likes. Society continues to be broken with this sick attitude towards sex where women are objects with "pussies" and "the girls." Slut types are perpetuated for women who are comfortable with their bodies, when there shouldn't be anything wrong with owning your own body and doing what you like. BREASTS, VAGINA, PENIS! Deal.

CHAPTER 4: I AM A FEMINIST!

"So here is a quick way of working out if you're a feminist. Put your hand in your pants:

A) Do you have a vagina? and
B) Do you want to be in charge of it?

If you said 'yes' to both, then congratulations! You're a feminist."
 Feminism isn't solely about being a woman. It's about liberating all injustices done to everyone. People of color, queer folk, trans folk, disabled folk, aged folk, impoverished folk, all prejudice you can imagine is a goal to be tackled by feminism. Liberation and justice for all. If you have no introduction to feminism, please go read The Fifty Double Standards book, quick and easy read. Very brief and shallow description of feminism, but Moran is so off on what a feminist is, in my opinion, it's shameful.

CHAPTER 5: I NEED A BRA!

I wrote "Not worth reading."

CHAPTER 6: I AM FAT! 

She proceeds to call people who aren't fat, "human shaped." Fat people who don't feel bad that they're fat are "lavish." Compulsive eating is the same as crack cocaine, and our friends should be confronting us about our problem. Sheer ignorance.

CHAPTER 7: I ENCOUNTER SEXISM!

You can see I'm really starting to hate my life and this book. I repeatedly ask Shelley to take my phone away, so I don't throw it across the room in frustration. I wrote no other notes on this chapter besides "horribly offensive."

CHAPTER 8: I AM IN LOVE!

Notes read: First time I laugh, still rather unintelligent.

CHAPTER 9: I GO LAP-DANCING!

Don't remember what garbage she wrote, but my notes read, "Slut-shaming is a feminist faux-pas, and here she is doing it. I'm so confused what any of she's saying so far has to do with feminism or how to be a woman."

CHAPTER 10: I GET MARRIED!

Notes read: I have no idea what your stupid point was. You made me tired.

CHAPTER 11: I GET INTO FASHION!

Notes read: I don't know your point, STILL!

CHAPTER 12: WHY YOU SHOULD HAVE CHILDREN

Notes read: I literally fell asleep a lot. Twelve chapters in, and I don't know what you're getting at. How should one be a woman?!

CHAPTER 13: WHY YOU SHOULDN'T HAVE CHILDREN

Notes read: First chapter where I've seen her point and appreciated her input.

Read this one?

CHAPTER 14: ROLE MODELS AND WHAT WE DO WITH THEM

Notes read: I fell asleep again. I've stopped paying attention. I wonder what I'll have for lunch tomorrow.

CHAPTER 15: ABORTION

 Only other chapter I've enjoyed. Read this one.

CHAPTER 16: INTERVENTION

No notes left.

POSTSCRIPT

In the postscript, she then proceeds to tell us she has yet to figure out how to be a woman. Everything she just wrote about for sixteen arduous chapters had absolutely no point 'cause you don't need to sweat it. Now I'm bringing back that first paragraph about domestic violence, pay inequality, and female circumcision not being terribly important. Sixteen chapters of non-important things that, at the beginning of the book, you told us were far more important than those three horrendous injustices happening every day that need to be stopped immediately but won't be. No, instead let's focus on what to call boobs then climb in our beds and say, "Shit, none of this mattered at all."

DON'T WASTE YOUR TIME! I'VE TOLD YOU THE WHOLE BOOK!!!!!!!

March will be featuring Farrrah Abraham's book My Teenage Dream Ended. This should truly be a blast. Again, I have a copy I can send you, and I'd be happy to if you'd like. Shoot me your email! If you leave it in the comments, I'll immediately delete it after I've seen it.


Last month's review

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