A few months ago, as I was doing the dishes, I heard Caitlin Moran being interviewed on WNYC. While I regularly read the British newspaper The Guardian, I do not not read the London Times, so I had never heard of her. What impressed me about her interview was that she discussed why "feminism" should not be a dirty word. She also discussed the enormous pressures put on women to conform in both appearance and behavior to really impossible standards set by men.
I immediately ran out, bought a copy of her book since there was an enomous holds queue for it in the BPL catalog, and spent an entire day reading How to Be a Woman on my couch while drinking coffee. Moran's prologue brilliantly stated what I have felt about being a woman but not have been able to articulate:
"In the Broken Windows theory, if a single broken window or 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...
Personally, I feel the time has come for women to introduce their own Zero Tolerance policy on the Broken Windows issues in our lives - I want a Zero Tolerance policy on "All the Patriarchal Bullshit." And the great thing about a Zero Tolerance policy on Patriarchal Broken Windows Bullshit is this: In the 21st century, we don't need to march against size-zero models, risible pornography, lap-dancing clubs, and Botox. We don't need to riot or go on hunger strikes. There's no need to throw ourselves under a horse, or even a donkey. We just need to look it in the eye,squarely, for a minute, and then start laughing at it." (p. 12-13)
This will not be an easy book to post about on a respectable, intellectual library blog. It certainly won't be easy to find many people who have actually read BPL copies due to the long holds list. How to Be a Woman was a bestseller in the UK, and Moran's ideas are definitely relevant to a US audience. If you cannot get a copy, an excerpt is posted at the NPR link earlier in this post. More information can be found at: