Chapter 4 – I Am A Feminist!
I guess one can’t write a book about feminism without first bringing The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer into the discussion. I’ll be honest, I had never heard of the book nor the author before reading How To Be A Woman and I doubt I’ll go run out and get it or download it to my Nook any time soon simply for the fact of the first paragraph that Caitlin Moran types out in Chapter 4. I’ll spare you.
This is the chapter where Caitlin wants you to shout out to everyone that you are a feminist. She wants you to stand on a chair and shout, “I AM A FEMINIST!”
Caitlin Moran starts taking us down memory lane with her being 18 years of age and having no friends but seems okay with it. By the way, I didn’t have friends at 18 either. This is where Caitlin starts to get my attention. She starts talking about spending her time in the library and finding all these wonderful and glorious people such as Harpo Marx, Robert Benchley, Alexander Woolcott and then the “holy Dorothy Parker.” Now she is talking about the Algonquin Round Table of course – something near and dear to my own little heart. Yes, Ms Moran, you have my attention now.
“Finally, through Woolcott, I come face-to-face with the holy Dororthy Parker, who I feel has been waiting for me forever, in 1923, with her lipstick and her cigarettes and her glorious, whiplash despair…….”
[page 70, chapter 4]
I, too, have been in love with Dorothy Parker for some time. So it comes as no surprise that this is where I start to give Caitlin Moran more of a chance with this How To Be A Woman book of hers. I read on.
After a few paragraphs of her discovery of the women of history and what she believes to be their downfall at early ages, Caitlin brings us back to this Germaine Greer again. By the age of 15, and after reading The Female Eunich, Caitlin proclaims she is excited about being a woman now and can’t wait for it to happen.
Before you know it, in the very next paragraph, there it is… Ciatlin then asks the question of “What does it mean?” What does it mean to be a feminist? She just puts it right out there. The answer may surprise you too. It did me, it made me laugh out loud for a second and then I went right into serious thought and realized that Ms Caitlin Moran had just now absolutely and perfectly nailed it with her simple answer.
Here it is…. in a two part question:
a. Do you have a vagina? and
b. Do you want to be in charge of it?
Yes, it really is that simple. No long academic thesis or waxing poetically about the subject of what it means to be a feminist. Just two simple questions. And only the reader can answer it for themselves.
Caitlin goes on to tell us we need to reclaim the word “feminism.” And I nearly stood up from my chair when I read this sentence and said, “Amen sister!!!!!”
Did you know, according to Caitlin’s book that is, that only 29% of American women describe themselves as feminist? The author asks us, “What do you think feminism IS, ladies? What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? ‘Vogue,’ by Madonna? Jeans? Did all the good sh** GET ON YOUR NERVES? Or were you just DRUNK AT THE TIME OF THE SURVEY?”
Perhaps the term feminist, alone, is not good enough anymore. Ms Moran wants us to start using Strident Feminist.
The author goes on to explain why the word feminism was started to be rejected by women – because it started to be used in crazy and way off-base context and somehow it morphed into, “misandry, misery, and hypocrisy, which stood for ugly clothes and constant anger…..”
Yeah, when did that happen? Caitlin tells us in this chapter. Or at least she puts her version of why it has been mangled into unrecognizable doctrine. She dispels the built-up hypocrisy of being a women who works and who hires a woman to clean her house or how we should never bitch about each other; other feminists and the sisterhood is nothing but absurd.
Bottom line, read this chapter. Another bottom line that Caitlin Moran has come up with for herself when she comes across something related to women and feminism, she asks herself a few questions, “Are the men doing it? Are the men worrying about this as well? Is this taking up the men’s time? Are the men told not to do this, as it’s ‘letting our side down’? Are the men having to write bloody books about this exasperating, retarded, time-wasting bullshit? Is tis making Jon Stewart feel insecure?”
No, of course not. They just got on with it.
You can determine anything concerning the strident feminism movement by simply asking this, question, “Are the boys doing it?”
Also, just be polite. I believe this was the best damned chapter of the whole book – Chapter 4.
Next Monday, Chapter 5 – I Need A Bra!