Published in Catalogue, 2016
I have very few people that I could claim with any sincerity as genuine personal heroes; I mean, the word “hero” in itself is so saccharine and over-flogged that I take very little pleasure in considering it with any seriousness. Being forced to recite one’s heroes to another human is also really only applicable in lazy interview scenarios when the interviewer has failed to adequately prepare and asks a stream of faithful fall-backs such as, “Who are your heroes?”, “Where did this all begin for you?” and “What’s it like to be a woman in the industry?”
That being said, I think it should be obligatory, if not legally mandated, that all women consider and recite Caitlin Moran in all her appallingly British, smart-mouthed, bizarre dye-jobbed glory as one of their personal heroes.
I first became aware of the British journalist, author, and TV personality through her 2011 book, How To Be A Woman, a hilarious, self-effacing and authentic exploration of feminism and plain old female-ness in modern life that had me cackling like a mad woman. My older sister gave it to me as a Christmas gift in order to smarmily reassure me that what I was doing could hardly be considered original but it appears that approach backfired tremendously when I essentially decided that I wanted emulate this wonderful Moran woman down to the ground.
The feminism that Caitlin Moran deftly and comically explores is the day-to-day inequalities, the internalised misogyny, everyday discrimination and inconveniences that us women should be suitably vexed by but perhaps simply tend to take on in our tired strides; “You can tell whether some misogynistic societal pressure is being exerted on women by calmly enquiring, ‘And are the men doing this, as well?’ If they aren’t, chances are you’re dealing with what we strident feminists refer to as ‘some totally fucking bullshit’”.
In a 2013 BBC interview with Matthew Stadlin, when asked about her personal contribution to feminism, Moran explored the idea that perhaps modern feminism isn’t as perceptibly angry as the generations that came before us and what she wanted to bring to the table was the ability to “muck about with the idea of being a woman more, it’s frequently hilarious to be a woman” and obliquely create awareness and progression with observational monologues. And perhaps in a world dominated by self-righteousness and voices that assert the moral rights and wrongs so slickly (why am I throwing myself on the fire here?) what we ultimately miss is the conversationalist, the one who can not only intellectually but also personally captivate us in a realistic dialogue.