Why issues don’t need to be complicated (or, why I love Caitlin Moran)

I’ve always found that, in the world of Image“issues” (and there are a lot of those about) that it never seems acceptable to talk about them in real world terms. We feel that, unless we’re able to discuss it on Newsnight with someone who possibly has an MA in the subject, we’re just not clever enough to have an opinion. If we can’t cite a journal article on the subject then we don’t get to take part in the conversation.

Feminism is a dirty word. People don’t want to be labelled as a feminist, lest they be labelled a lesbian/bra-burning man-hater/radical extremist weirdo. Normal people aren’t feminists, they’re just up for some equality. But not a feminist. No way. But recently, since Caitlin Moran’s first book “How To Be A Woman” came out it’s been on a lot more people’s radar. Because she lays it bare for how it is – a society that’s built around men being the primary power (the patriarchy) is harmful for both men AND women. Everyone is told to be a certain way because of it, and it’s not fair for either sex.

But it also brings big feminist issues to the forefront. Rape culture. Abortion. Big things that people don’t want to have an opinion on because they’re just too big. But which everyone DOES need to have an opinion on, because they are just that big. If you’re going to bring issues like that to the general populace, it has to be accessible. It needs to be clear, told with the gravity the topic deserves but with a light scattering of wit. Talking about rape culture in a Radio 4, Newsnight way will make a lot of people switch off. Talking about it in a plain and simple way will show people that it is relevant to them, no matter who they are.

We need to take a leaf out of this book (not literally, please leave your books intact) with other issues that are going on in the world. Disability, welfare, the crap that’s happening in the country at the moment is discussed on highbrow BBC programmes with lots of language, but it needs to be discussed in an accessible, plain and simple way. Then people will UNDERSTAND and go HOLY SHIT this is awful it needs to stop. There are some people who are doing this and doing it well (see blogroll to the side) but it needs more.

I will happily confess that I’ve been listening to the audiobook of “How To Be A Woman” on repeat for weeks now. Feminism does not have to be an unattainable lefty radicalist thing that those studenty lefty activist types do, it’s for everyone. Man, woman, anyone you like. Because it’s going to make everybody happy in the end.

(Picture is of my new copy of Caitlin Moran’s latest book, which I hope to have her sign at the Chelt Lit. Festival this year!)

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