I'd seen How to Be a Woman on my library shelves numerous times and thought about picking up, but I actually ended up reading How to Build a Girl First. I loved Moran's novel so much that it finally convinced to pick up this book. I listened to the audio book, which is read by Caitlin Moran herself and I'm really glad I finally got around to reading How to Be a Woman.
What I like best about this book is the very informal tone. Especially with the audio, it feels like Moran is just chatting to you about her life and thoughts. While it doesn't come across as any sort of academic endeavor, I found this book to be much better organized than other memoirs or books of essays I've read. Moran starts each chapter with some of her childhood history, often including entries from her journal, and moves into how this shaped her idea of feminism and what it means to be a woman. In the second half or so of each chapter, she shares her thoughts on whatever topics her childhood reminiscing has brought her to whether that's something more serious like abortion, or less serious like her attempts to buy fashionable shoes. While I like a good, academic analysis of feminist issues as much as the next person (and probably more than a good number of people), I loved How to Be a Woman precisely because it is not that. If I want a serious book of essays on serious issues, I'll go pick up something else. This book, though, was absolutely hilarious.
I also noticed, when looking through reviews on Goodreads, that a lot of people took issue with this book for the reasons that I loved it. Many of Moran's comments are insensitive and not at all politically correct. I saw a lot of people calling her out for making racist comments or using the word "retard" and this definitely happened in the book. I disagree, though, that this book is, as some people claim, full of hate speech. I didn't get the sense that Moran wrote this book to preach hate for anyone. Maybe she has what some people consider to be poor taste in jokes, but I think a lot of the negative comments stem from the recent movement I've noticed towards not offending anyone ever. It's the same with all the negativity I've seen towards university professors who are offending students that seem to be getting progressively more sensitive. If these people are actually trying to kindle hatred towards others, that's one thing, but if they're making jokes that you don't like, that's entirely different in my opinion.
I was actually surprised to see these complaints that accuse Moran of ranting or claiming that this really a memoir masquerading as critical analysis. I have to ask myself if any of these people read the description of the book before picking it up, or at least before reviewing. The blurb from Moran's own website says:
So Moran is not, as many of the reviews I read claimed, trying to present this book as critical analysis. It is literally described as "part memoir, part rant", which is fine if that's not what you want to read, but then there's really no reason to complain about the book actually being a memoir or rant, because that's exactly what it claims to be. So congratulations to the reviewers who seemed very proud of themselves for discovering the true identity of this book, but I think they could have saved some time if they'd only read the description first. In any case, I loved How to Be a Woman, inappropriate jokes and all, and would highly recommend this book. It's a refreshing break from the more academic books on the subject and, if you have any sense of humor, pretty much guaranteed to make you laugh.