The first large chunk of this book is about sex. Not, like, has sex in it, but is loudly and cheerfully and without delicacy about sex and sexual awakenings and vaginas and so forth. I say this because about fifty pages in, I was all, Ok so this is a book I wouldn’t recommend to my mother-in-law (for example). I mean, it was also about feminism and inequality and the injustice of it all, but it was mostly Moran’s feelings about her lady-garden and the pruning thereof.
But also? It is HILARIOUS. I was literally weeping with laughter. I’ve dog-eared this one page and I can’t remember if the bit I found noteworthy was the bit about how the bra is the rudest undergarment in a woman’s arsenal (which you can test by tossing one at a nine-year-old boy, who ‘will run, screaming, away from you – he cannot handle the rudeness of bras’) or the bit about how making us feel bad about our breasts is the patriarchy’s hobby. Because now, looking back, I am laughing at BOTH those things.
Queen V adores the rudeness of bras.
Ok so. Moran’s lady-manifesto moves chapter by chapter through her childhood and adolescence, with each chapter (‘I start bleeding!’ ‘I need a bra!’ ‘I fall in love!’) operating as a launching pad (ha! Pads.) for both anecdote and polemic. Because being a woman is still sort of horrible in a lot of ways. And I once read a book called Confessions of a Slacker Wife that sort of made that point but mostly in frustrating half-jokes that brought me nowhere. I already KNOW I’m doing all of the laundry, thanks. And at one point, Moran suggests that the best tactic is to point at the patriarchy and laugh, like it was some idiotic phase we were all going through, and that as long as we could be like, Isn’t THIS stupid, and keep kicking against the goads while keeping our sense of humor, eventually gravity would take its course (she probably made some joke about boobs here, too).
Because she isn’t just like, Ugh, inequality, right? UNEQUAL DIVISION OF HOUSEHOLD CHORES, AM I RIGHT, LADIES? She’s like, Here are some helpful ways of thinking about this, and here is a civil and useful reaction when some sexism is happening to you, and here is a balls joke.
So that’s good. I appreciate sage advice, especially when doled out with balls jokes. And I get that humor is a piebald horse, and there’s this bit on breastfeeding that has me HOWLING with laughter, and as I’m reading it (and howling) I’m thinking, There’s going to be a whole host of people for whom this is not funny in the least. Be they men, or women who have never breastfed, or women who HAVE but for whom breastfeeding is a sacred trust and a wondrous superpower and not breathtakingly absurd (I mean, it’s those first two things, for sure, but it’s also definitely that last thing). And I’m not saying that if you’re a man or if you don’t have kids, you won’t laugh. It’s just, if your funny bone is located elsewhere from MY funny bone, you might not enjoy these frolics.
Mrs Patmore would not.
A sampling, then. She’s talking about how eating disorders are still the Secret Sin of the Sisterhood, and asking why women will ‘happily boast-moan about spending too much (“….and then the bank manager took my credit card and CUT IT IN HALF WITH A SWORD!”), drinking too much (“…and then I took my shoe off and THREW IT OVER THE BUS STOP!”), and working too hard (“…so tired I fell asleep on the control panel, and when I woke up, I realized I’d PRESSED THE NUCLEAR LAUNCH BUTTON AGAIN!”) but never, ever about eating too much?’ You will have to read the book to find out.
I have often said that I can only take people’s arguments seriously if they are also making me laugh, and while that’s not TOTALLY true, it’s close enough to true for government work. Moran is wise and comforting and helpful for those times when you are just like, DAMMIT WORLD STOP PRESSURING ME ABOUT MY SHOE CHOICES. I dug this book with a shovel.