Women: the bloody, funny truth
By writing about menstruation, female masturbation, abortion and childbirth, Caitlin Moran is on a mission to reclaim the bloody, messy business of being a woman, one gag at a time
ENGLISH JOURNALIST, author and big-haired poster girl for feminism Caitlin Moran is sitting in a Dublin hotel explaining why she’s had to relinquish the Mooncup as a form of sanitary protection. The last time she used this natural alternative to tampons and pads was in the Norfolk guesthouse of film-maker Richard Curtis and writer Emma Freud. It was a bit of a horror show by her own, almost certainly exaggerated, account.
“I used one for two years, but the Mooncup just wasn’t protecting me any more. I ended up leaving blood splattered all up the walls and the floor of the guest house . . . I trashed that place so badly,” she says cheerfully.
Afterwards, thinking she might be able to frame previous guests for her bloody crimes against bed linen and carpets, she quizzed Curtis and Freud about who was the last person to stay there. “I was hoping it was someone like Pete Doherty. They said it was Gordon and Sarah Brown. I realised there was no way I was going to be able to pass off a bloody set of footprints on Gordon and Sarah Brown, and I also decided to go back to tampons.”
She is in Ireland to promote her latest book, Moranthology, an entertaining collection of her journalism – she has three columns a week in the Times and last year was named interviewer and critic of the year in Britain. In Moranthology she visits a sex club with Lady Gaga, goes on the batter with Doctor Who and Kylie, and holds forth on everything from Downton Abbey to Boris Johnson, from internet trolls to Kate’n’Wills. If you are a fan of common sense, comic writing and pop culture, buy it immediately.
The book is a brilliant follow-up to How to Be a Woman, Moran’s memoir and feminist manifesto, which was an instant hit when released two years ago. In it, the 37-year-old railed hilariously against the insidious shrinking of women’s underwear, the mass removal of female genital hair, and fake tan. Another of Moran’s big themes is reclaiming the bloody, messy, “secret” business of being a woman. She wants to encourage other women to talk openly about subjects like female masturbation, misogyny, abortion, childbirth and menstruation.
‘The idea of what’s normal has to change . . . all that blood is not going away’
She chats breezily about turning Richard Curtis’s house into a blood bath not to get a reaction but because “it’s what every woman goes through – sometimes we leave stains behind . . . People have said that I am brave to write about this stuff, but that’s just nuts, because it’s so normal. The best thing women have said to me has been, ‘I read your book and I felt normal’.”
She has a great riff on the movie There’s Something About Mary and that iconic scene where Cameron Diaz scoops up semen in her hand, which she puts in her hair, confusing it for gel. “A much more likely thing to happen in real life is that Cameron Diaz would get period blood on her hands and put it in her hair, but you would never in a million years have that as a key scene in a movie or as the poster.”
Because movie-goers might be disgusted? “God, a woman with blood in her hair! That’s her own fluids. It’s normal. Apparently it’s not disgusting to have Ben Stiller’s semen in her hair, but it would be disgusting to be covered in her own menstrual blood. The idea of what’s normal has to change . . . All that blood is not going away.”
Although not as well known here as she is in Britain – there are posters of her all over London at the moment – in certain female circles she is the crush du jour. Is she enjoying the experience of a lot of women thinking they’d quite like her as their best friend? “Women are giving me a lot of power at the moment,” she says. “I don’t mean in a way that I am going to take over a country or kill anyone, but when people say, ‘I love your book,’ that makes me feel good, and that empowers me to write something more extreme and a little bit more political.”