prepare to enter a trance-like state of self-loathing

Books Caitin Moran’s position in the history of the press reaction to new Doctor Who can’t be underestimated. That this successful tv columnist with years at The Times and before that Melody Maker had outed herself as a fan and was writing passionately about the franchise’s inherent cool, went some way to helping to transform the reputation of the programme and giving it an acceptable face for those who might otherwise have sneered at even the concept of watching a sci-fi drama series on a Saturday night.

That’s largely how I heard about Moran and why I decided to follow her on Twitter, and not having seen her most recent columns since the paywall, why I probably ended up reading How To Be A Woman. That and the dozens of positive reviews. Part memoir, part feminist tract, its rather like reading Elizabeth Wurtzel’s Prozac Nation with sections of Bitch edited in at relevant points and although it has some of the same esteem issues, it’s determinately far funnier than either.

Beginning with the bullying meted out to Moran as a pre-pubescent tomboy, we’re guided through her bodily changes and onanistic experiments and her experiences with men folk and babies, scaling Maslow's hierarchy like a sherpa on a completion bonus. She aims to demonstrate how difficult the status of womanhood has become increasingly harder as women have themselves begun to accept as the norm the very narrow set of images created by marketers and the rest of the media.

With only Wurtzel's books, Laura Mulvey, Annette Kuhn and various Guardian columnists as my previous experience of such things, I can't say whether Moran successfully rewrites Germain Greer's The Female Eunoch as the advertising suggest.  It's certainly increased my admiration for women, simply because of the psychological baggage they seem to have to carry around with them because of assumption we men have and continue to make about them, describing them as them as though they're an entirely alien species.

Moran really knows how to service an anecdote. The chapter on weddings is a tour-de-force of colourful detail from the shades of dresses to the wine stains in the carpet. She lays the most disappointing elements of her personality bare, disappointing to her, and at times she comes across as a marauding Withnail with two X chromosomes, various tolerant Marwoods making sure she reaches home in one piece, dealing incessantly with inadequate men.

If you are a man with even a hint of feminism running through your veins, prepare to enter a trance like state of self-loathing for your entire gender. We do not come off well here, for the way we treat women by confirming gender stereotypes, double or triple glazing the glass ceiling and for years assuming that because there don’t appear to be many women around with a voice it's because they don’t have much to say, rather than the truth which is that we’ve gagged them, unconsciously other otherwise.

Yet there are plenty of moments in which it’s apparent that we share plenty of foibles. If I’m anything to go by, men too construct epic impossible fantasies about relationships with casual acquaintances that aren’t just about sex. We too walk around shops for hours on end failing to find clothes we might actually enjoy wearing (which is why my whole existence revolves around a white t-shirt and jeans). We also often feel that society has boxed us into a corner.

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