The “F” word

I’m an enormous fan of  Caitlin Moran.

I say fan, but stalker might be more appropriate.  I could marry her prose – it’s witty, insightful and laugh-out-loud funny.  So  I was thrilled to read that she’s published a  book on feminism – ‘How to Be A Woman’.

Moran uses the backdrop of her life to explore all kinds of issues facing women today – from weight to sex.  On overeating for example, she writes;

‘Overeating is the addiction choice of carers, and that’s why it’s come to be regarded as the lowest-ranking of all addictions.  It’s a way of f****ing yourself up whilst still remaining fully functional, because you have to.  Fat people aren’t indulging in the ‘luxury’ of their addiction making them useless, chaotic or a burden. Instead, they are slowly self-destructing in a way that doesn’t inconvenience anyone.  And that’s why it’s so often a woman’s addiction of choice.  All the quietly eating mums.  All the KitKats in office drawers.  All the unhappy moments, late at night, caught only in the fridge-light’.

I’m in agreement with a lot of what Moran says – but not quite all. For one thing, I’m not sure whether I’d call myself a feminist or not.  It’s a label that carries so much baggage, it can  mean totally different things to different people. Moran’s definition is simply this – equality.   She elaborates: Would a man be allowed to do it? Yes? Then so should you.  Would a man feel bad about it? No? Then neither should you.

‘Equality’ is a slippery word.  Take tennis, for example.  I wonder what would make for an “equal” Wimbledon tournament.  Men and women thrown into the same draw together?  Equal in one respect.  But unfairly matched in many others.  In the tennis court, women playing men at their own game are set for failure.  In a women’s competition, they  can showcase  equally impressive but different skills.

Moran is right in saying that equality is vital.  But equality doesn’t mean denying our distinctions.  It doesn’t mean we have to act the same.   If we simply “do what men do”, we might find ourselves losing what it is that makes us women.

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