“We need the only word we have ever had to describe “making the world equal for men and women.” Women’s reluctance to use it sends out a really bad signal. Imagine if, in the 1960s, it had become fashionable for black people to say they “weren’t into” civil rights. “No! I’m not into civil rights! That Martin Luther King is too shouty. He just needs to chill out, to be honest.””—Caitlin Moran
“what you are, as a teenager, is a small, silver, empty rocket. And you use loud music as fuel, and then the information in books as maps and co-ordinates, to tell you where you’re going.”—How to Build a Girl, Caitlin Moran (via touchingfromalongdistance0)
“It seemed to me that this was the real reason people wanted to fuck so much. To get here. To get to this tiny, quiet place where there was nothing else to do but be with each other. Just to be two humans who had - for a short while - stopped wanting. This is the beautiful, final destination. The end of things.”—'How to Build a Girl' by Caitlin Moran (via wildthingwilddreams)
I want a face full of frown lines and weariness and cream-colored teeth that, frankly, tells stupid and venal people to FUCK OFF. I want a face that drawls — possible in the voice of James Cagney, although Cagney from Cagney & Lacy will do — “I’ve seen more recalcitrant toddlers/devious line managers/steep mountain passes/complicated dance routines on Parappa the Rapper/bigger sums that you’ll ever see in you life, sunshine. So get out of my special chair and bring me a cheese sandwich.
Lines and grayness are nature’s was of telling you not to fuck with someone — the equivalent of the yellow-and-black banding on a wasp, or the markings on the back of a black widow spider. Lines are your weapon against idiots. Lines are your “KEEP AWAY FROM THE WISE INTOLERANT WOMAN” sign.
“I think it’s really important to not to go on the red carpet and try and look pretty like all the other pretty ladies: wearing the dress and the high heeled shoes, getting your hair done and getting the diamonds you have to borrow for that day. That’s a competition I don’t want to take part in because other prettier girls with better hair and better shoes will win that competition. I don’t want to be in that competition. I want to walk very comfortably in a pair of boots and a Ghostbusters jumpsuit and be able to enjoy the afterparty: whenever you go to these afterparties you see these very beautiful women standing around holding their shoes in their hands, with a tension headache from their hairdo, scared that they’ve lost an earring that they’ve borrowed from Chopard, unable to breath or drink, scared of spillage and can’t go outside to have a fag because they are too chilly. I like to dress for fun. And I like to dress to bust ghosts. And that’s the only outfit that allows me to do both.”—Caitlin Moran on the Ghostbuster jumpsuit [x]
“Because what you are, as a teenager, is a small, silver, empty rocket. And you use loud music as fuel, and then the information in books as maps and co-ordinates, to tell you where you’re going.”—Caitlin Moran, How To Build A Girl (via soaronwingslikeaneagle)
“Whilst male fantasies are short, powerful and to the point – a bit like ‘My Sharona’ by The Knack, say – female fantasies are some symphonic, shape-shifting thing by Alice Coltrane. In their fantasies, the women grow and shrink, shape-shift, change age, colour and location. They manifest as vapour, light and sound, they strobe through conflicting personas (nurse, robot, mother, virgin, boy, wolf) and a zodiac of positions whilst, you suspect, also imagining consistently great-looking hair.”—Caitlin Moran, How to be a woman. (via love—literature)
“I will do all my changing in private. In public, I am, always, the finished thing. The right thing, for the right place. A chrysalis is hung in the dark.”—Caitlin Moran, How To Build A Girl (via kanyewestfeaturing)
I speculate, briefly, on how different the world would be if it were run by women. In that world, if you were a lonely, horny woman, you’d see Blu-tacked postcards by Soho doorways that read, ‘Nice man in cardigan, 24, will talk to you about The Smiths whilst making you cheese-on-toast + come to parties with you. Apply within.’
But this is not that world.”—How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran (via missvioleteyes)
“That’s what I’d like to do, I think. Have a long, cool, clean nail, right in the middle of my head. That would calm me. And no one would blame me - a girl with a nail in the centre of her skull. They would put me in a hospital - and, because I would be broken, and ill, I would be safe. If I broke all my bones, no one would hate me. If I was in trouble. If I was at the bottom of the stairs. If I was smashed up. If I died.
If you can’t save yourself from attack by being powerful - and I, palpably, have no power. My hands are empty - then perhaps you can save yourself from attack by being ruined, instead. Blow yourself up before the enemy gets to you.”—Caitlin Moran, How to Build a Girl (via hjwhutnow)
It’s Mondaaaayyyy, which means we have finally read some of How to Build a Girl and get to talk about it! Emily is hosting this lovely readalong (THANKS EMILY!), and if you’d like to pre-order a copy of this you should head on over to Odyssey Bookshop to do that. And if you’re not readalong-ing with us, be aware – THERE WILL BE SPOILERS.
“At its best fashion is a game. But for women it’s a compulsory game, like net ball, and you can’t get out of it by faking your period. I know I have tried. And so for a woman every outfit is a hopeful spell, cast to influence the outcome of the day. An act of trying to predict your fate, like looking at your horoscope.”—Caitlin Moran, How To Be a Woman (via daringvanity)
This is the point where you might expect me to say, “But it proved very difficult – if not impossible.” Traditional narrative insists that this would be the part where I would begin to struggle, against the odds, for decades, in order to fulfil my dearly held dream.
But that’s because traditional narratives are written by boys – who do find it difficult to get laid. If you’re a girl, on the other hand, you can get laid any time you like. Seriously. Fat, badly dressed, shy, awkward – not even actually in a room with a man at all – there is nothing that can be so “wrong” with a woman that she can’t have sex any time she wants, merely by uttering this infallible, magic spell to a man: “Would you like to have some sex with me?”
And this is one of the things I like about men: they’re uncomplicated. Sex is fun, they think, so I would like to do it whenever I can. Why not? It was certainly how I felt about it. Yes, sex can be a potentially risky activity for a woman, but I was in a fairly closed social circle, shagging colleagues and friends of friends, and for me, at least, it was less dangerous than riding a bicycle around town: I was still very shaky on the difference between “left” and “right”, didn’t understand the Highway Code and often got distracted if a pigeon flew past. I was much safer on top of a man than on a bicycle.
I quite liked the idea of gaining a lot of experience, and I was piqued by the fact that sex is the only skill where experience can be seen as a bad thing – for women, anyway. You would never denigrate a lady-plumber for having fitted over a thousand toilets, or a lady-pilot for having landed a thousand planes. Why, then – in a world of contraceptives, cheerfulness and feminism – was landing a thousand penises apt to have you titled a “slag”?
“In a busy world that needs revolution, admin, inventiveness, glee and thrift, sex being depicted as a cross between the challenges on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! and a trolley dash around selfridges.com seems like a deeply unnecessary complication. You know, sex is very simple. It’s something cats manage to do on the shed roof, in the rain. You can make it complicated – but I’ve had some great times in a graveyard on a picnic blanket, and, indeed, up against bins around the back of a club – and I’d like something of that very British, make-do spirit to be represented somewhere in British sex fiction in 2014.”—Caitlin Moran: my sex quest years (via pablolf)
….I found in [Fifty Shades of Grey] was a very niche corner of female sexuality being presented as an everywoman coming-of-age fantasy. Fifty Shades Of Grey is about a shy, studious, 21-year-old virgin who, in exchange for being repeatedly beaten on the clitoris with a hairbrush, gets an iPad and a go on Christian Grey’s helicopter.
While I don’t doubt – and am wholly for – this being what some women want, the monolithic place this book was taking up in young girls’ sexual hinterlands I found disturbing. It’s the opposite of independence, rebellion, curiosity, rock’n’roll and the carefully attended forming of your own desires. Anastasia is essentially a thoughtless, desireless, empty girl who has sex happening to her, via a powerful and unstoppable man – and I don’t think I have to spell out why I find that sexual template deeply skeevy for, say, my own teenage daughter and her friends.
”—Caitlin Moran about 50 Shades of Grey. I disagree with her on a lot of points, but here she is bang on the money about why it’s a terrible book for young teenage girls curious about sex. (via bossistherozofme)
“Because what you are, as a teenager, is a small, silver, empty rocket. And you use loud music as fuel, and then the information in books as maps and co-ordinates, to tell you where you’re going.”—Caitlin Moran, “How to Build a Girl” (via morethanyoubargained)
“And that was again why I just wanted to write a book that was about a girl who followed her will and followed her desire and learnt from her mistakes and wanted to be a good and noble person, didn’t want to be pretty, wanted to be good and noble and have a really good time. Those things are key. It should be pleasurable to be a woman and we still se ourselves as a massive list of problems. And it took me until I was 34 to realize I’m alive! I’m not a massive list of problems, I’m a person who can be useful and entertaining and wrk hard and do things.”—Caitlin Moran on Newsnight (via gogoartqueen)
“I am getting incredibly high on a single, astounding fact: that it’s always sunny above the clouds. Always. That every day on earth—every day I have ever had—was secretly sunny, after all…I feel like I’ve just flown 600 miles per hour head-on into the most beautiful metaphor of my life: If you fly high enough, you get above the clouds, it’s never-ending summer.”—Caitlin Moran, How to Build a Girl (via sheistoofondofbooks)
“When the subject turns to abortion, cosmetic intervention, birth, motherhood, sex, love, work, misogyny, fear, or just how you feel in your own skin, women still won’t often tell the truth to each other unless they are very, very drunk.”—How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran (via help-me-lose-my-mind)
Having never done a GCSE or an A level — and, to be fair, not even actually knowing what an “ad-verb” is. Is it a “doing” word? — I was as initially horrified as the Department for Education to discover that my Twitter feed, along with speeches by Russell Brand and the lyrics of Dizzee Rascal, are to be used to study A-level English.
“Schools should be aware that if they offer this rubbish in place of a proper A level, then pupils may not get into good universities,” a senior DfE source said, in a way that I would describe as “quite bitchily” were I analysing their language as part of some coursework. “We will expect other exam boards to do better.” You could practically hear the sniff of disdain at the end.
“Quite right,” I thought, at first. “My Twitter feed is a combination of political rants, pictures of the young Bruce Springsteen and ‘amusing’ things that pop into my head when I’m on deadline. When 5 News rang me up for a quote on the subject, I knew that my last tweet was: “Last time it rained in London I saw a pigeon fart out a bubble onto the pavement.” Whither Chaucer?
However, putting aside that I’d lay good money on that old fruit Chaucer, were he alive today, tweeting exactly the same thing, had he seen it — and with much worse spelling to boot — it does raise some interesting questions.
For instance, although the Department for Education is absolutely within its wheelhouse to worry about “getting into good universities”, I, Russell Brand and Dizzee Rascal didn’t get into “good universities” — or, indeed, any university at all. From what I know of Brand and Rascal, they learnt to communicate in the same way that I did — via culture. The books we read, the films we watched and the music we listened to were how we formed ourselves, how we learnt new words (basorexia: the overwhelming need to be kissed), the rhythm of sentence structure (both Ulysses and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy are good for this) and who we might go on to be in the world (I’m modelling myself on the bastard child of George Orwell and Rizzo from Grease). And if there’s a person alive who hasn’t in some way been formed in exactly the same way, I’ve yet to meet them.
It’s an insanity to say that “English” only happens in “proper” books and coursework. English is made by the people who use it every day. One report suggested that more than 1.8 billion new words are invented every year — think of “twerking”, “Bitcoin”, “tbh”, “selfie”, “shamazing”, “trolling” — all made up by people, normal people, just typing and chatting away. It’s always worth remembering that the vast majority of the authors who wrote the “proper” books and plays didn’t go to a “good university” or study A-level English either: Chaucer, Shakespeare and Dickens are astonishing because they made up our language — formed it — rather than learning its rules by rote.
I suppose really it all comes down to whether you think English — the joy of words and creativity, the spreading of ideas and the sharing of stories — is something that everyone should be able to do joyfully, that it is one of the greatest set of tools available to someone with ideas, or whether “English” is merely a set of rules, of interest only to those who want to get into “good universities” instead.
Is “English” what we all use every day, with the gleeful power to create available to us all, or just something you must obey, in school? If I ever do study for an English A level, I hope it’s one that asks that question.
“…life divides into AMAZING ENJOYABLE TIMES and APPALLING EXPERIENCES THAT WILL MAKE FUTURE AMAZING ANECDOTES. However awful, you can get through any experience if you imagine yourself, in the future, telling your friends about it as they scream, with increasing disbelief, ‘NO! NO!’ Even when Jesus was on the cross, I bet He was thinking, ‘When I rise in three days, the disciples aren’t going to believe this when I tell them about it.’”—Caitlin Moran (via cygnescholastique)