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Novel challenges stereotypes with humor

By Katherine Burke

Often considered common sense and innate knowledge for those who identify with the female gender, the actual practice of “being a woman” holds much more than is immediately apparent to the naked eye.

Some state that being a woman is simply not being a man, a yin to a yang, a black to a white, with no shades of grey in between (and no, not those shades of grey).

Author Caitlin Moran wittily explores everyday female issues. (AP Photo)

However, this is very clearly not the case, at least not for those who have actually tried being a woman.

This is where Caitlin Moran comes in with her best-selling and award-winning novel, “How To Be a Woman.”

She states, “There’s never been a better time to be a woman: we have the vote and the Pill, and we haven’t been burnt as witches since 1727.”

However, a few nagging questions do remain.  “…why are we supposed to get Brazilians? Should you get Botox? Do men secretly hate us? What should you call your vagina? Why does your bra hurt? And why does everyone ask you when you’re going to have a baby?”

Told through a humorous yet critical lens, Moran asks questions, demands answers, and still has the reader in stitches as she tells personal anecdotes about the not-so-glorious art of being a lady or, more accurately, figuring it all out first.

Not only did she win the Galaxy Book of the Year in 2011 for her landmark pseudo-memoir, but she also holds both the British Society of Newspapers’s award for Columnist of the Year and Cosmopolitan’s Ultimate Writer of the Year.

Now, before you automatically make assumptions based on her status as a writer from Cosmopolitan — don’t.

Not only does Moran relate to all of us with her story of an awkward, chubby, socially inept-13-year old (because, to be honest, who hasn’t been there?), but she also makes the reader think long and hard about gender-based discrimination.

While this may be a heavy topic, Moran cleverly uses her British humor to make it accessible.

Put on your big girl panties — as Moran states, “strident feminism needs big undies”— and get ready for a great read that will make you laugh just as much as it will make you think.

But don’t think that this book is just for “the girls.”  “How To Be a Woman” proves that women’s issues are important to everyone, male or female. Put more simply, read it. Think about it. Love it.


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