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Book Review: More than a woman by Caitlin Moran

Writing update…..still four books behind, next up More than a woman by Caitlin Moran

It’s Friday morning, I’m sat staring at two VERY silver, very wiry hairs that have sprouted overnight.

At the same time, I’m having a very detailed WhatsApp chat with my best friend about Botox….

Basically, I’ve changed my opinion on it and am no longer against it. I’ve spent a lot of time frowning and raising my eyebrows at idiots. I always thought I’d happily grow old naturally, I did not account for the daily battle with idiots.

In further proof that my phone is actually spying on me an advert for dealing jowls has appeared, which is great.

I’m basically having an average Friday morning freak out around getting older, it happens, it passes.

It’s now Tuesday morning and Piers Morgan (I am not a fan), is basically calling Charlotte Hawkins out on her choice of outfit or specifically a short skirt, she looks rather uncomfortable. The way he’s banging on I expected to be able to see an arse cheek, it’s just above the knee.

While he’s waxing lyrical and asking, ‘why she’s in a short skirt’ or words to that effect, I’m shouting at the telly ‘tell him to piss off and you’re wearing it because you want to, that’s enough of a bloody explanation’.

It’s against this backdrop that I’ve been reading More than a woman by Caitlin Moran and it appears we share the same sentiment:

“Being a woman is like writing a GCSE coursework essay onMacbeth.You can’t just read it and enjoy it. you have to be able to pull it apart and show how it works – despite the fact it’s successfully been Macbethfor five hundred years. Oh, how the world would change overnight if a woman saying, ‘Because I want to’ was enough”. Caitlin Moran

Firstly, I don’t think, I have ever read a quote that sums up being a woman quite so perfectly. It is, at times, EXACTLY like every piece of English coursework I’ve ever written, full of having to explain yourself.

More than a woman is the follow up to her 2011 best seller How to be a woman which, chronicled her life from her teens to her mid 30s and in which she talked about her views on feminism. An admission here, I haven’t read it – I more than likely will.

Ten years on, she’s back with the next chapter and next set of challenges….what it’s like to navigate being a woman in middle age. I think I’m now officially middle aged which, as the above Friday freak out proves, I’m not entirely comfortable with.

It’s part memoir, part manifesto she’s juggling marriage, demanding teenagers, elderly parents, housework, ageing, hangovers and endless to do lists.

It’s written with warmth and humour. Her observations are bang on the money – the ridiculously loud sneeze story is a case in point. It touches on the everyday and raises some valid points that should be discussed by society. 

Seriously, why aren’t women paid for the caregiving that others are paid to do?

The large majority of people acting as sole carer for an elderly relative are women, they’re unpaid and doing that job alongside a whole host of other things.

Unpaid carers are worth between 54 and 86 billion per year in England alone. We don’t value this. We don’t value the work millions of women do every day raising children – because it is predominantly women who are the primary caregivers – it’s still, to an extent almost sneered upon, it certainly isn’t financially rewarded, in fact, financially you end up worse off.

I’m thinking about this point when a story drops down the news wires the top line…

“Women’s priorities at work change with flexibility now being a priority”.

I’d have said flexibility has always been a priority, it’s just that it’s taken a global pandemic for it to become obtainable and for employers to see that actually, it is possible. That strikes me as a bit, well, fucked up to be honest. It is points like this, that need debate, how long are we going to financially penalise people for keeping the human race going? It is a pretty good question.

I liked her chapter on ‘What about the men’, it’s fair discussion and one that showed me archaic gender stereotypes are harmful to us all. Moran had taken to twitter to ask what is like for men, the response that stood out for me:

“I’ve never been bought flowers”.

Why shouldn’t a guy like flowers? I love a sunflower, how can you not smile when handed a bouquet? Why do we wait until a man’s funeral to buy him flowers? Why is every male birthday card ever designed about alcohol, sport or cars? Why is masculinity still linked to an ability to eat spicy food or even lots of food? Why are we all still playing along and putting ourselves in certain boxes? It something that genuinely baffles me, I don’t understand why we are still so accepting of traditional images and world views that are pretty damaging.

Aside from the big social issues, it’s an incredibly personal account, where Moran really hits her stride is when she talks about her daughter’s eating disorder and self-harming. These chapters are so moving, how she goes from having suspicions, to alarm and then helplessness. The helplessness involved with navigating children’s mental health services which are woefully underfunded with huge waiting lists. How she struggles to reach her daughter and doesn’t know how to help, you really get a sense of her pain and fear – I’m so pleased her daughter’s story had a happy ending, many do not.

I loved this book, there were so many points that led to a wry smile, her chapter about the Witches coven made me pine for my own coven – sharing a bottle of wine, putting the world to rights and having a bloody good laugh.

It had me laughing out loud in recognition and left me feeling hopeful. We’ve come a long way, being a woman is awesome, long may that continue.

P.S You should definitely read her A Woman’s ‘If’ – a brilliant reworking of the Rudyard Kipling poem….

“Yours is the Earth and everything’s that’s in it

And – which is more – you’ll be a Woman!”

radiosarahc View All

Journalist, writer, traveller, music lover, collector of hats, news addict, bookworm

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