AMBER LOVE 09-MAR-2014 Comedian/Media Personality Caitlin Moran has some views that seem to contradict each other. I can relate. I have been asked plenty of times how I can be annoyed with the skimpy costumes of comic book characters while I love adult entertainment and being a model. I see where my own line of demarcation is but for some reason other people don’t understand me. Perhaps they aren’t taking the time to get to know me and my personal philosophies. That’s how I felt when listening to Moran’s book HOW TO BE A WOMAN.
Halfway through the book her inconsistencies were so rampant I almost gave up. If she was expressing that these topics are things she needs to work through, that would be one thing; instead she presents topics and then it’s like there are two personalities debating them. If you pull out soundbytes and quotes of Moran, she seems to be perfectly stable and makes a lot of sense but when you hear those bits inside a larger story, you’ll find her saying the opposite of whatever she just said. Moran should decide whether she’s working through her process to get to an opinion or shut up until she has a formulated thought.
Here are some quote samples that as I said, make perfect sense on their own and are catchy phrases that could be memes all over the internet but in context make no sense at all to the rest of her chapters:
“What is feminism? Simply the belief that women should be as free as men, however nuts, dim, deluded, badly dressed, fat, receding, lazy and smug they might be. Are you a feminist? Hahaha. Of course you are.”
“When a woman says, ‘I have nothing to wear!’, what she really means is, ‘There’s nothing here for who I’m supposed to be today.”
“Batman doesn’t have to put up with this shit–why should we?”
“Why on earth have I, because I’m a woman, got to be nice to everyone?”
Those sound great, right? One thing she glaringly misses in her views of what is and is not feminism is when she says boys aren’t told to be a certain way. Like Hell, they aren’t! Boys have their own problems and their own pressures. Boys are told to “man up” and not to cry or show a single emotion other than dominance, anger and constant control. It’s the sort of pressure that drives male CEOs into sex dungeons where they have women beat the Hell out of them or feed them baby bottles while wearing diapers. Men do tend to win but none of them are stable and without their own bullshit to deal with. Moran says she’s for all the six billion not only women. She doesn’t come across that way at all in this book.
Moran waxed angry about how degrading she finds strip clubs and lap dances but she fancies burlesque performers because they are in complete creative control of their act which distinctly has an air of intelligence that strip clubs don’t possess. I listened and thought it was a bit off that shaking your boobs in one building is degrading while shaking them in another building is acceptable. Her reasoning is actually what maddened me further: gay men will go to burlesque shows and if the gays are there, it’s not misogynistic.
It’s anti-feminist if women are paid by men to strip and dance but if “other” types of men are present, it’s strong feminism — that’s what Moran is saying is the most anti-feminist thing I ever heard about the strip lounge business. She prattled on that the fact women are stripping to put themselves through college is a significant indication that there’s a failure in the system when men (and fat girls, she adds) don’t have to strip for their education. No, they don’t have to; they could be in shitty $2/hour jobs waiting tables at Chili’s hoping to get tips that are not insulting. Hmm… do you make $100/hour taking off your clothes or $2/hour?
By this point in HOW TO BE A WOMAN, Moran has explained that she was a chubby young girl around size 16 (that’s British sizing so I don’t know what that means to our fucked up American sizes). She considered herself “unfuckable” as a teenage girl because of her weight. In her eyes, no one of her body type could even consider making money as a stripper – which is a realistic notion, I don’t disagree with her here – but that women shouldn’t do it because only skinny women are welcome. Well, only “skinny” women are usually booked in modeling too unless it’s an industry specific “plus size” event. Does that mean no other women in the world should wear bathing suits or lingerie? Moran says she detests lingerie and finds that underwear is only meant to be practical and bras are indeed your friend if they are comfortable and supportive.
This well-known feminist and media star is quoted in places like The Guardian:
This takes Moran to some interesting places: porn is fine, she likes porn – it’s the porn industry that’s the problem, being “offensive, sclerotic, depressing, emotionally bankrupt” and entirely geared to men. “Ban it? Feminism doesn’t need to start BANNING pornography. It needs to start MAKING it.” Lap-dancing is not fine, but pole-dancing and burlesque are. Heels are not empowering – they are silly and impossible to walk in. Brazilians (the wax jobs, not the people) are a horror. She teaches her daughters to pity the girls on MTV, and that there are consequences to dressing like them when you’re too young: “Even if you’re not getting raped, but you have some bloke who’s not listening to what you’re saying, he’s just looking at your legs – you don’t necessarily realise, when you’re still a little kid in your head, that that’s what’s happening. So, you know, you have the option to put your legs away and simply engage this person in conversation by smiling instead.”
By stating that it’s the approval of gay men that validates when something is pro-feminism only goes further to eliminate women from the equation. If you insist on having only gay men choose the color of your living room and the throw pillows, fine, do what makes you happy because it affects only you; but to say hard-working women in a job you don’t approve of is dangerous and degrading to the economy or whatever because gay men aren’t there, is far more insulting than grinding on patrons will ever be. You call an act “burlesque” and no one bats an eye – straight men, gay men and liberated women will attend and applaud; you call it stripping and it’s something that turns stomachs and makes plenty of straight men embarrassed to watch while they secretly fantasize about being the only man in the room with that dancer.
I personally think the laws are hilarious: you need to cover up the nipples and you’re fine, you’re not nude then. Seeing large or small masses of fatty breast tissue (or implants) which is 95% of the breast is not actually seeing the boobs that people desire. It’s those darn pesky nipples. Oh the temptations that can’t be contained when one sees areola!
The difference is that Moran is a pants-wearing feminist and I’m a “wear what makes you comfortable” type of feminist which is why I agree with Moran on the topic of high heels. I generally say I’m a bad feminist because I so often disagree with what other respectable women say. If I had the athletic ability, I’d have no problem being a stripper or a dancer not that anyone wants to see women over the age of 25 in that business but somewhere there’s a niche market. Moran however basically “skirt shames” with her dialog. She says you can’t expect men to not look at your legs if you’re showing them and you have the power to hide them. It’s the same mentality of blaming a rape victim because of what she wore – one of the very issues she discusses in her book. If a man can’t control his primal urges, he is the one with the problem not the fashion designer, not the person in the factory who made it, and not the woman who chose to wear a damn skirt.
Neither of us are right or wrong.
There’s plenty of things that Moran says that I agree with or at least find notable such as her stance that employing a woman as a housekeeper is not misogynistic because it’s not a punishment or she puts it, “women did not invent dust.” You need a particular job done. You hire someone with the willingness and skills to do it. You pay a fair wage. End of story on that issue.
I don’t know any man that would make it through the first chapter of HOW TO BE A WOMAN. I would recommend it for parents to get through at least the beginning where Moran recaps the horrors of puberty and how her parents teased her and didn’t prepare her. Anyone who thinks it’s a good idea to tell a young girl that they’re “a woman now” at menstruation onset is a fool. An 11- or 12-year-old girl is NOT a woman or we wouldn’t have statutory rape laws. Neither are you mentally prepared to be a woman just because you took care a younger sibling while Mommy was sick or out working. The teasing Moran experienced is probably quite common as the same exact sorts of things happened to me – not only remarks about having a period but my gigantic breasts on a growing body. A C-cup by 12 and DD in high school meant I had to learn defenses mechanisms before I had a clue about what sex even was.
I absolutely agree that feminists should be making porn that doesn’t give the female viewer a complex about being unfuckable. I have heard of new website in beta testing right now that addresses this in a way not only targeted to women. It’s called Make Love Not Porn and is supposed to be “regular” people having sex on camera. From the samples I watched, it seems that there are in fact people that could pass for professional adult actors or at least ones trying to break into the business but wanting to maintain their own creative control. Mostly it really is “regular” people who want to share their sexual experiences and make a couple bucks. It’s like a downloadable rental from what I gathered.
The quotability of Moran makes HOW TO BE A WOMAN an interesting read but I don’t take her as seriously as I do other female role models like Tina Fey or Aisha Tyler who both have outstanding memoirs.