How to be a Woman

howtobeawomanReading the first two chapters of How to be a Woman I had two questions for myself.  The first was whether I would finish the book and the second was whether I would bother to review it.

The first time I picked up this book it was in a bookstore in the UK.  The title intrigued me and I thought it might be an interesting take on the experience of being a woman.  Plus, while I was in the UK I soaked up anything I could get on how to navigate the complex social expectations of the country.  However, the reviews indicated it was brash and, at times, offensive.  I put the book down at the time.  Then, over Christmas Amazon ran a series of daily sales on Kindle books and this was one of them.  For $2 I figured I would risk it.

The reviewers weren’t wrong.  This is a very brash and offensive book.  It starts crude and gross.  It does improve from there, but it’s still not for the faint of heart.  Moran doesn’t shy away from any topics and takes them all on head on.  This is not a finishing school manual.  This is a social commentary on the difficulty of being a woman in modern day Britain (though much is still applicable in the US and Canada as well).

Why did I continue, you ask?  Well, in the middle of the ‘I’m trying to shock you’ there was a lot of truth.  Women do have their bodies judged against the standard of porn.  Dealing with weight issues is a tough thing and the media does us no favors (or is that favours?).

There were times this book made me angry, but there were also times when it made me laugh out loud.  I wished I had bought a hard copy because I wanted to underline parts (underlining on an e-book just isn’t the same).  I wanted to tape parts to my bathroom mirror.  There was a raw honesty to this book that, I think, is badly needed.  Why is it that every woman is constantly asked when she’s going to have children?  Why is it assumed that every woman would want children?  And her honesty about the cost of having children for women was refreshing.

Yes, that’s what I would call this book.  Refreshing.  Crude, rude and truthful.  She doesn’t claim to speak for every woman, but she tells her own story in a powerful way.  From getting caught up in the wedding industry hype and ending up with a wedding that made pretty much everyone miserable to a look at her food issues.

The chapter titles in the book make it pretty clear what the contents will be, so skip those you know will push your buttons.  In fact, if you’re faint of heart, skip this book all together.  I, however, found it interesting and useful.  It reminded me that I don’t need to apologize for not being the society standard of what a woman should be.  It made me laugh at myself and the way I play in to the fashion game.  Did I love every page?  Definitely not.  However, on the whole, I’m glad I read the book.

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