Thanks to Caitlin Moran’s ‘How to be a woman’ I have discovered something I genuinely didn’t know about myself; I am a feminist after all.
Large (!) numbers of you (how many readers do you think you’ve got, Leoarna?) are now shouting at your screens, alarmed that I could have gotten all the way to 41 and not made my mind up on this important issue. I can explain. Last year, I read a book called The Good Man Jesus and The Scoundrel Christ by Philip Pullman. Now I am not a Christian, but having studied Theology at A Level, and psychotherapy since then, I have always been intrigued by any attempt to explain the human mind (or soul), the commitments it makes, the beliefs it adopts and lives by, and so on, and so on. The book was a cracking read, the basic premise being that Jesus had a twin, Christ who indulged in all the worst elements of what Man can do to a Great Idea, diluting and tarnishing the good his brother’s message of peace might achieve. He was vain, self-promoting, driven by ego. In short, he spoiled the Church. It now strikes me that my view on Feminism has been blurred in much the same way; what I’ve seen during my life is the ways in which Feminism has been led up blind alley after one-way street, and had become unappealing to me. In essence, that Eighties mix of Thatcher, Nicola Horlick and Madonna didn’t really do it for me.
But Caitlin’s witty, honest and original thinking has swept all the unhelpful clutter and media spin out of my view, and left me with one simple question to answer, ‘Do I own a vagina and do I want to be in charge of it?’ Of course, my answer is ‘Yes, and Yes!’ (Apologies if that wasn’t a word you were expecting to read when you started reading what is, essentially, a book review.) Given my positive answer, Caitlin would argue that I am indeed a feminist, and that any residual discomfort I feel with that label is simply an indication of how the word itself has been skewed and needs reclaiming.
Through a thorough examination of every topic that matters to women, from the ownership of breasts, to housework (I’m so on-topic! https://notdifferentbutinteresting.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/they-dont-make-a-dyson-big-enough/), via body image, the workplace, marriage and the decision to have kids or not, she’s had me 1) laughing out loud in bed and really annoying my hubby 2) rethinking my views on quite a lot of stuff that matters, and 3) feeling reassured that what I spend my days feeling and pondering, someone else does too. And luckily, because she’s just so darn honest and insightful, I don’t mind a bit that she is a zillion times funnier than me in print.