basically a monkey in a dress

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Sunday, September 30, 2012
I loved How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran.   Her writing is funny, brash, raunchy, honest, and kind. One of the things I like best is the sensible assertion that feminism doesn't require one to be to be some super-powered paragon of good traits, but rather "simply the belief that women should be as free as men, however nuts, deluded, badly dressed, fat, receding, lazy, and smug they might be." 
The chapter titles (below) give you some idea of the shape of this book. I started reading this while in the waiting room of a ZoomCare -  I didn't feel good (sinus infection) and they were running late, but this book was such good company! The early chapters were audacious and bracing yet comforting as I sat in a rigid chair waiting for someone to look up my nose with a flashlight.

Prologue: The Worst Birthday Ever
Chapter 1: I Start Bleeding!
Chapter 2: I Become Furry!
Chapter 3: I Don't Know What to Call My Breasts!
Chapter 4: I Am a Feminist!
Chapter 5: I Need a Bra!
Chapter 6: I Am Fat!
Chapter 7: I Encounter Some Sexism!
Chapter 8: I Am in Love!
Chapter 9: I Go Lap-dancing!
Chapter 10: I Get Married!
Chapter 11: I Get into Fashion!
Chapter 12: Why You Should Have Children
Chapter 13: Why You Shouldn't Have Children
Chapter 14: Role Models and What We Do with Them
Chapter 15: Abortion
Chapter 16: Intervention
Here's a quote from an interview she did with The Hairpin
 “The trick is, and there’s a little bit of heartbreak, you have to just give up on the idea of being a princess. You have to give up on the idea of being fabulous. My kind of base position on existence is that you just have to admit you’re a bit of a twat. You’re a bit of a div, you’re a kind of sweaty, stumpy, well-meaning idiot and you’re trying your hardest, but it’s just enough to be a sort of pleasant, polite person who’s working quite hard and tries to be nice to the people they’re nice to. We don’t need to have any more ambitions than that! This whole sassiness thing – everything’s got to be sarcastic, everything’s got to be knowing, everything’s got to be cynical. You’ve got to be on top of your shit twenty-four hours a day. THAT is exhausting. It’s just far better to go, you know what? I’m just basically a monkey in a dress, and the best I can hope for every day is just to be nice, to smile as much as possible, to be gentle, try and be a bit understanding, work really hard, go and smell some flowers, have a cup of tea, ring your mum if you get on with her, just kind of dial it down a bit. There’s a more sustainable idea of being a woman rather than feeling like you’re in a fucking movie twenty-four hours a day.”
3 comments on "basically a monkey in a dress"
  1. This is on my hold list, and after reading all of this I am even more excited, hoping that people ahead of me on the hold list get tired of waiting and buy the book or take it off their list!

    1. Hooray! I think you'll like it. I'll see if Bec wants to read my library copy, otherwise I'll take it back early so the line can move faster. Or you can borrow it straight from me if you want - it's not due until the 18th.

    2. I have a book about a Yiddish detective to read, AND a book about Mars, AND a book about mortality to try to get through. I am really bad about finishing books from the library! That is why it needs to be funded-so people like me can check them out over and over and hopefully be able to pop in on a Monday! But thank you!


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