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Hair Down There


Caitlin Moran is really funny. Jonathan found her even funnier than I did, and he sat reading it next to me on the sofa, causing mini earthquakes with his laughter. I made him leave the room so I could concentrate on my Junot Diáz book, ‘This is how you lose her.’ That was also excellent – one of those books which made me want to give up writing because what was the point, really, with virtuosos like that around. But back to Moran, I’m now intrigued by her biography, which she slipped in between her feminist manifesto, and I’m also super impressed that she managed to land a job at Melody Maker at age 16. I would’ve liked to work there. Of course I was in Palmerston North at 16, a world away from the British music press. Moran is only two years younger than me, so ‘How to be a woman’ is a feminist text for my generation. Or perhaps the next one, the women who think that feminism is a dirty word, who didn’t take Women’s Studies at University, whose first pair of grown-up shoes weren’t 10-hole doc martens boots, who have boyfriends who watch lots of porn on the internet and expect women to be clean-shaven. But then maybe the excellent TV series Girls is more for them.
Anyway, have you read it? What did you think? Now I want to read Germaine Greer’s ‘The Female Eunuch’, which Moran raves about. I don’t know why I haven’t already. Maybe because it was a book for my mother’s generation, and each wave of women needs a book of one’s own.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. 22/10/2012 10:13 am

    Yes Caitlin Moran is pretty great. I’ve just read Moranthology – which is more pop culture than feminism. I enjoyed Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture too on the whole Brazilian etc thin. PS Caitlin Moran goes on the piss with Matthew Crawley of Downton Abbey in Moranthology. And I loved Junot Diaz’s book too – superb.

  2. 22/10/2012 10:33 am

    I think it is generational. I went through university at a time when Women’s Studies were an essential rite of passage, and shaving your armpits was a sign of giving in to the patriarchy. Do they skip those bits at uni now? I get my legs waxed for special occasions, but refuse to shave them because I don’t have time for that every day any more than I have time for styling my hair or putting on make-up every day. It’s not being lazy, I say, it’s having other priorities…

  3. Emma Jean permalink
    22/10/2012 10:56 am

    I’m quite interested in the feminist book for our generation discussion – Caitlin Moran loves Germaine Greer, who has apparently said she doesn’t like Caitlin Moran because discussing her masturbation practices is going a bit too far. Jacqueline Fahey says that every generation ignores the feminists before….so her 1950s generation of feminist discussion which included her own paintings of ‘surburban neurosis’ got ignored by the ‘second wave’ feminists of the ’60s….etc etc. I do find Caitlin very straight I have to say, but I guess she is, and if she wasn’t it probably wouldn’t be so popular. In our feminist discussions where I work, some of the women who’ve been involved in feminism since the 1980s are struggling with the idea that transgender people and men might want to be involved in the feminist discussion. But if you follow Julia Gillard’s wonderful logic in her anti-misogyny speech to the Australian Parliament, the discussion perhaps moves from ‘feminism’ (which can easily be relegated to the ‘ghetto of women’s business’) to misogyny – which is everyone’s responsibility. Anyways Sarah I love this piece – Caitlin is wonderfully, proudly imperfect and frickin’ funny…..I’ve been thinking you’re the NZ Caitlin Moran for a while now 😉

  4. 22/10/2012 1:03 pm

    Going out to find Caitlan Moran tomorrow (after the storm…) think you’ll find Greer grim – although maybe in retrospect i’funny’ – nah too much a polemic – “I’m sick of the masquerade. I’m sick of pretending eternal youth. I’m sick of belying my own intelligence, my own will, my own sex. I’m sick of peering at the world through false eyelashes, so everything I see is mixed with a shadow of bought hairs” too much sick of and not enough celebration.

  5. Bryony Bates permalink
    23/10/2012 12:15 am

    I think the reasons why women don’t shave belie the whole idea that removing body hair isn’t a feminist issue. I’m always cautious about talking about this kind of thing just because I do think there are more important struggles, but I think it’s interesting that women who don’t shave all the time like you and me (you should see my winter coat) don’t because they just don’t think about it and aren’t bothered, which I think shows a greater degree of comfort with your body. Women who do shave all the time (and obviously I’m generalising, this won’t be true for everyone) do tend to be more concerned about the way their body is perceived and feel that female body hair is disgusting or dirty, or at least they feel disgusting and dirty if they have body hair.

    As regards the generational thing, I’m at uni at the moment and a lot of my friends love Caitlin Moran. I’m not entirely convinced by her, but it’s great to see young women actually thinking about this stuff.

  6. Emma Jean permalink
    23/10/2012 10:41 am

    Agreed Bryony. Just thinking and talking about this stuff is what is important I reckon. Someone I know who I thought of as a strong ‘feminist’ (in my view) who is also a staunch lesbian told me that ‘having hairy legs is an aggressive act’. I laughed, thinking she was joking, but alas she was not!

  7. Vic permalink
    23/10/2012 6:14 pm

    This was one of the first books that I got for my Kobo and I loved it too. Laugh out loud funny.

  8. Sarah Laing permalink
    23/10/2012 9:01 pm

    Thanks so much for your comments! I just stumbled across a funny precis of feminist issues here, narrated by a camp man. He even explains the Bechdel test, how you can tell whether a film has gender bias. 1. Is there more than 1 woman? 2. Are those women talking to each other about something other than the men in the film? It’s remarkable how many films fail that test! And yeah, I agree, there are more pressing issues than body hair, and Moran is populist, and probably not embraced by the feminist academics, but we probably need a bit of populism to lure younger women back to feminism, when they feel so alienated by it. It’s great to hear that young women are talking about it again.

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