Wednesday, 29 June 2011

How to be a woman

I have two books on the go at the moment.  The first is Middlemarch, one of the set books on my next Open University course.  The second, How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran, was recommended by a friend.  They make an interesting combination. I imagine Moran leaning over and giving Dorothea Brooke a good slap.

Moran's mix of memoir and feminist tirade makes an entertaining read.  I think back to my mother's life and marvel at how times have changed.  She started work as a civil servant in the late fifties and was the first woman  in her office not to have to give up work when she got married.  As a young girl I remember secretly borrowing my mother's book 'How to be a good wife' or something along those lines.  I was only looking for the rude bits.  (I was sadly disappointed).  The house should be perfect, dinner cooked and, by the way ladies, make sure you comb your hair and put some lipstick on before your husband gets home.  And don't expect him to entertain you or play with the children.  He's had a hard day and will want nothing more than to read the newspaper in peace.

We've come a long way, I think.  But then I remember a meeting with my boss after I got married.  He was just wondering, he said, whether my career plans had changed...

Now, as my daughter starts to think about her career choices, I am tempted to suggest she considers what careers can be combined with bringing up a family.  I doubt I would give my son the same advice.  Before I say anything to my daughter, Moran's book reminds me that feminism in theory is all well and good, but it's the practice that counts.

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