Join 3,434 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Caitlin Moran: On a mission from god to reclaim feminism, or an excuse to crash a lot of cars and have a lot of fun
September 9, 2012 4:15 PM   Subscribe

At 16, she published her first book, started writing for Melody Maker, and won the Observer Young Reporter Of The Year competition, and they gave her a column. At 17, she "skipped ship" over to The Times, and has been writing there since. U2 filmed a video in her house at 18, when she was co-presenting on the short-lived Naked City program, interviewing Björk, Iggy Pop, and others. Caitlin Moran won the British Press Awards' Columnist of The Year award in 2010 and Critic and Interviewer of the Year in 2011, and Glamour Magazine's Writer of the Year award in 2012. The last award was in large part for her book How To Be a Woman, her mission from God to reclaim feminism, though it was more in the lines of The Blues Brothers: crashing a lot of cars, and having a hoot. The "British Tina Fey" talks about contemporary sexual issues such as slut walks, pop culture, clothing and women, abortion, having the sex talk, and why "it's actually technically impossible for a woman to argue against feminism".
posted by filthy light thief (45 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
The Times lists 1149 articles credited to Moran, but most of the archive is locked behind their paywall, including the 2010 interview with Lady Gaga (previously). Archive.org only pulls up a snippet at the moment, though it might have the original article archived, if the 2010 archive server comes back.

Caitlin is on Twitter, and for some "best of" clips and other great tidbits of/from Moran, there's Fuck Yeah Caitlin Moran tumblr.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:20 PM on September 9, 2012


From the Fresh Air interview:

"MORAN: I never didn't realize it. I mean, I was brought up in a kind of, you know, very hippie, liberal family, and it was just always automatically assumed that men and women were equal and indeed superior."

I want to like Moran, but it's hard for me to get past that she thinks of me as automatically inferior. There may be a lot more to her, but the Fresh Air interview was the first I heard, and while she seems funny and charming, it's asking a lot of anyone to get past that. I wouldn't ask any POC or woman to get past it, and I wish Terry Gross had called her on it.

I know there are many types of feminism, but the one I subscribe to is the type that actually believes in equality.
posted by bswinburn at 4:23 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I heard the Fresh Air interview linked in the FPP, and the full transcript is worth reading.
posted by Forktine at 4:26 PM on September 9, 2012


(Which is actually the last link in the FPP, never mind.)
posted by Forktine at 4:29 PM on September 9, 2012


The last two links are to NPR: the first to the article, the second to the transcript. They cover different parts of the book, but the transcript has her reading directly from the book.

bswinburn, I think the next line clarifies what she's talking about:
I never didn't realize it. I mean, I was brought up in a kind of, you know, very hippie, liberal family, and it was just always automatically assumed that men and women were equal and indeed superior. I mean, when you've got a mother who's given birth to eight children, you know, often without any kind of medical intervention, just she gave birth to one of my brothers sort of on the bedroom floor in front of all of us, you know, you see that women are fairly capable.
She goes on to talk about how she was confused about the "simple woman" stereotype she saw on TV when she was growing up.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:31 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


that's the best interview i've read in a long, long time - thanks.
posted by facetious at 4:34 PM on September 9, 2012


I like to think it’s the triumph of the round-faced girls. It’s always been about pointy-faced women. Everyone in Sex in the City has a pointy face. Now I think it’s kind of time for the doughy-faced woman to rise. The doughy-faced woman has been forced to sit on the sidelines of culture for too long, and it’s now time for us to stand up with our big round faces like the moon and say we have things to say, too. We have a round-faced agenda we want to push.

Yes, yes we do.
posted by emjaybee at 4:39 PM on September 9, 2012 [14 favorites]


filthy light thief:

When I heard the interview I took that as just one example of how women are superior. And reading it again, I still do. That is one of the reasons I wish Gross had pushed her on this. I remember thinking that Moran had paused then so Gross had a chance to jump in.

If a male interviewee had said, "That's when I realized men where better than women. Watching Karsten Braasch trash Serena Williams after drinking two beers made it clear men are plenty capable" I doubt Gross wouldn't have followed up.

I don't doubt you believe your interpretation that she's just saying "Women can give birth and it's amazing!" is the correct one; I would like to believe it was too. But that's not what I'm reading and, especially, with the emphasis of her spoken language.
posted by bswinburn at 4:51 PM on September 9, 2012


+it's not what I heard.
posted by bswinburn at 4:52 PM on September 9, 2012


Check this interview from the op, at 3:40 she's pretty clear that to her feminism is about equality.

Cheers for all the links filthy light thief, I'd not encountered her much before some mates enthused about How To Be A Woman at me and now I recommend it to people at the drop of a hat.
posted by invisible_al at 5:00 PM on September 9, 2012


When I heard the interview I took that as just one example of how women are superior.

I heard the interview, and just reread the transcript. I heard that as a joking version of "Dude, there's no fucking way I could handle squeezing out something the size of a cantaloupe!" which I hear guys saying all the time. She is repeatedly and explicitly focused on equality, so I think that in context you are misreading.
posted by Forktine at 5:08 PM on September 9, 2012


So I heard the interview with Terry Gross. In it she talks about shaven pubic areas as a 'wipe clean surface' in response to the 'industrialized sex' that porn is, according to her.

I don't buy that, but now I'm shaving more and more of my body because I think having a 'wipe clean' body sounds awesome.
posted by poe at 5:08 PM on September 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's only 'wipe clean' for a day or two, then there's a nice lot of prickley resistance. Mainaining an 'industrialized body' is a lot of work (says the guy who slacks off and only shaves his face once a week).
posted by filthy light thief at 5:35 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


The fact that she's a Murdoch employee and thus a stablemate of Jeremy Clarkson and AA Gill gives me the impression that she'd be a right-wing contrarian à la Julie Burchill. Is this not the case?
posted by acb at 6:00 PM on September 9, 2012


Moran is one of those people I keep thinking I ought to read and not getting around to it. I think I keep confusing her with Katie Roiphe for some unfathomable reason.
posted by immlass at 6:14 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Great post, filthy light thief. Thanks.
posted by homunculus at 6:29 PM on September 9, 2012


Moran, like many in her/my generation, layers everything in a thin veneer of hyperbole and sarcasm.. When she says she was raised to believe that women were superior, she's not being 100% genuine. She's making a rhetorical point, not a statement of fact.
posted by muddgirl at 6:30 PM on September 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


For example:
We have a round-faced agenda we want to push.
This is also a joke. We don't have to worry about Moran and the rest of us round-faces rising up against our pointy-face overlords.
posted by muddgirl at 6:34 PM on September 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


Well, I've read what you've guy's have said and looked at some more her stuff and I'm tentatively willing to accept that I read Moran's comments ungenerously. I have to admit to my own biases could be affecting me here.

Ironically, in light of immlass' comment, I've been burned by feminist writers who are trying to make some crowd pleasing points before and so can be sensitive to feminists who take their soapbox as a chance to abuse men in the audience and provide some laughs/red-meat-rhetoric for their audience. In the late 1980's I went to a lecture by Katie Roiphe at the University of Washington where I was a student, and during the Q&A she called on me, and then, just as I started to ask my question she yelled into the microphone, (and I'm paraphrasing from memory) "NO! You're not going to have a chance to speak, so you can see what it's been like for women all these years!" There was plenty of applause.

Alas, that's not the only time I've dealt with that and I never understood why some feminists seem to be hell bent on alienating their allies.

I'll try to give Moran another shot.
posted by bswinburn at 6:52 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Opps. I meant the late 90's.
posted by bswinburn at 6:53 PM on September 9, 2012


I have loved Caitlin Moran since the 80s and reading her in MM. She's a witty keen observer and Mrs A. kindly allows me my teenage crush. Her Twitter feed is pretty good too.
posted by arcticseal at 6:56 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I will accept that some women, and some feminist women, are assholes. Equality!
posted by muddgirl at 6:56 PM on September 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


I heard Caitlin Moran in this interview and immediately bought a copy of her book to leave lying around where my daughter would stumble on it.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:06 PM on September 9, 2012


bswinburn, the fact that you seem to think a woman saying men are inferior (seriously or not) is comparable to a man saying women are inferior or a white person saying people of color are inferior, despite the fact that only the latter two are backed up by intractable systematic oppression, suggests that you have a lot to learn about feminism and other anti-oppression movements.

I’m not saying this to attack you, but because you seem interested in the topic and this is important—and basic—stuff.
posted by cloudburst at 7:14 PM on September 9, 2012 [11 favorites]


I'm a new fan of hers and hadn't read her earlier things; thanks!

She was interviewed by Tim Minchin recently, then interviewed Jennifer Saunders. Both interviews are funny and worth tracking down (the Jennifer Saunders link should be live for two more days).
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:05 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is also a joke. We don't have to worry about Moran and the rest of us round-faces rising up against our pointy-face overlords.

Sez you.

Me, I'm stockpiling weapons. Your day will come, oh pointy ones. Vive La Round-Face Revolucion!!!
posted by soundguy99 at 8:08 PM on September 9, 2012


As a guy reading that Fresh Air transcript, I too got a small twinge of "hey, wait a second there!" when reading the "superior" comment. But there are three things that make want to give it a pass: what cloudburst said about the history of systematic oppression of women, the fact that she's human and humans say things the wrong way sometimes, and the fact that everything else she's saying is so great.

To put it another way: as a straight white male, I've got to remember how much of a privilege it is that I only occasionally experience being surprised by and feeling momentary outrage at such a statement. Women and others who have been systematically oppressed deal with this shit 10-fold every day, not just simple statements they disagree with, but entrenched, institutionalized oppression. So I can let a comment slide when there are bigger fish to fry, and it's not the major thrust of what she's saying.
posted by dubitable at 8:37 PM on September 9, 2012 [13 favorites]


Sez you.

Me, I'm stockpiling weapons.


I didn't say it wouldn't happen, I just said y'all don't have to worry. When the revolution comes, we will be properly self-deprecating and dry.
posted by muddgirl at 8:40 PM on September 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


It eases the blow, you see.
posted by muddgirl at 8:41 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


She sounds like someone who might be fun to hang around with, but that's about it. I'm not really seeing anything especially profound or thought-provoking in what she's saying.

The transcript of her speaking leaves in all her nervous tics, and it's really distracting. She kees interjecting "You know" into the conversation. By the time she started talking about her abortion, I felt like I was chopping my way through the thick of the You Know forest with a machete and I just wanted to get the hell out of there already.

Some of what she said seemed really obvious, too. Does anyone really do "The Talk" these days?

And the way she said that young women who don't like the term feminist just "don't know what it means"! Wow, talk about condescending!

I know she is being purposefully flippant. The hyperbole is intended for humorous effect. But the humor falls flat and the lines are predictable. She's not even as funny as my sister, nowhere near as wise as my Mom.

I wish I could actually read more of her articles. She's been writing for probably twenty years now and she's obviously popular with her peers. I have to be missing out on the best she has to offer, right?

Otherwise, meh.
posted by misha at 9:54 PM on September 9, 2012


I've just finished reading the section of her book that talks about the impossibility of women arguing against feminism. The image of someone arguing fervidly that you shouldn't listen to them made me giggle insanely on the bus.
posted by misfish at 10:04 PM on September 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Misha, I think there are lots of misunderstandings and misrepresentations floating around in the world about what feminism means.

The idea that some women are not feminists does honestly boggle my mind, so my tendency is often to assume that if a women says she is not a feminist, it is probably because she is defining it differently than I do, which is an activity otherwise known as being wrong.
posted by misfish at 10:12 PM on September 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


I just finished her How To Be A Woman book about a week ago and really enjoyed it. I didn't expect to either, as a lot of her Melody Maker pieces (the early ones like that Hole interview especially) were so overwritten it was agonizing to get into them.

But as most of us do, she's gotten better with age. I like this mature Caitlin Moran very much.
posted by yellowcandy at 10:13 PM on September 9, 2012


ACB - I saw her do a talk quite recently, and one thing she touched on was how ridiculously pleased she is to be taking money from the Murdoch empire - writing for The Times, no less - whilst espousing a consistently lefty viewpoint.

Moran's views are pretty leftist even in the UK, so she's a fun exception in the stable, I think. Though not enough to get me to pay my way past the paywall.

General point - I bloody love Caitlin Moran.
posted by ominous_paws at 1:46 AM on September 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


On a music-based forum I used to post on, one of the regulars had a sort of try-hard-edgy wannabe-Hemmingway schtick, and would regularly rattle on about how much he hated a number of UK female columnists. One day he got on to Caitlin Moran, and rattled out a few paras about how terrible she was.

A few minutes later, she'd made an account and given him an utter drubbing in the comments.

Once again, I bloody love Caitlin Moran.
posted by ominous_paws at 1:48 AM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Moran is doing a live ticketed event in London on the 26th November, talking to David Aaronovitch (also a columnist for the Times). £15 for non-members of the Times+ club.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:29 AM on September 10, 2012



when it comes to matters of opression, it's systemic since its arranged or conducted according to a system or organized method i.e institutional system. Systematic is what you use when it relates to non-human systems i.e mathematical methods and such.

Note that this does not imply thay I am for or against your argument cloudburst, i'm just an observer.

Opression is opression, it's not a contest.
posted by xcasex at 3:40 AM on September 10, 2012


Also, damn. has she ever got the writing gift.
This is kinda why I became a member, this place has given me so many new sources that were unknown to me & that succeeded in delighting my day, props to OP.
posted by xcasex at 3:42 AM on September 10, 2012


She just tweeted that all her paywalled articles are now available for the next 24 hrs if anyone wants a look.

Can't paste the link from my BB but if you got to her recent activity in Twitter you'll see the link.
posted by arcticseal at 6:38 AM on September 10, 2012


Oooooh my stuff in today's Times is FREE for the next hour! Enjoy what is basically Sweary Christmas! (posted about 2 hours ago, as of writing this)

The link from her tweet now says:
You win some, you lose some...

The bad news is that the article you were trying to view was only free for a limited time.

The good news is that, if you want to read more, you can from just £2 a week.
Boo, Murdoch paywalls. I even searched for a bypass, but this seems like a pretty solid wall.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:27 AM on September 10, 2012


I come across her stuff all the time, she's always a delight to read, but now that I've seen her pic she's an inspiration for another reason: that is some awesomely dignified grey lady hair, right there.
posted by Freyja at 10:26 AM on September 10, 2012


I came in to post the link to the BBC Chain Reaction show in which she interviewed Jennifer Saunders too. Here's the link to the main page of the program since every episode is pretty great.
posted by merocet at 12:53 PM on September 10, 2012


xcasex, systematic can certainly be applied to human systems. "characterized by the use of order and planning; methodical a systematic administrator." Certainly fits here.
posted by dubitable at 5:29 PM on September 10, 2012


"The British Tina Fey"

WTF? One is a journalist from a music hack background, the other is a writer/performer from an improv background. Another deliciously reductive media comparison, there. It's like calling Dave Foley the Canadian AA Gill.


On a music-based forum I used to post on, one of the regulars had a sort of try-hard-edgy wannabe-Hemmingway schtick, and would regularly rattle on about how much he hated a number of UK female columnists. One day he got on to Caitlin Moran, and rattled out a few paras about how terrible she was.

A few minutes later, she'd made an account and given him an utter drubbing in the comments.


If it's the same forum I'm thinking of, they really really don't like their female writers there.
posted by mippy at 4:20 AM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Caitlin Moran talking about her newest in 30 minutes, live (hopefully not uk-only).
posted by ersatz at 10:33 AM on September 13, 2012


« Older Focusing on career -- how hookup culture empowers ...  |  "Behold the future of video ga... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments