Caitlin Moran: ‘My brother says it’s easier to be a woman – I can see his point’

Author and journalist Caitlin Moran spoke at the Irish Times Winter Nights Festival

Men don’t have a ‘beautiful sisterhood network’ that women have built up, says Cailtin Moran. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Men don’t have a ‘beautiful sisterhood network’ that women have built up, says Cailtin Moran. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

Author, journalist and broadcaster Caitlin Moran is no fan of Boris Johnson who she says “enrages” her. But, in saying that, he’s given her plenty to write about in her celebrity column in recent times. The column is about “the famous person who’s been the weirdest or stupidest that week”, she explains to Irish Times columnist Kathy Sheridan during The Irish Times Winter Nights Festival. “For the last seven weeks it’s been our Prime Minister. He’s more ridiculous than any celebrity we’ve got. He’s such an embarrassment. I hope the rest of the world knows that most of us just think he’s an idiot”.

Moran says now, at the age of 46, having written her most recent book, More than a woman, that she’d quite like to travel back in time to herself at 32 who had just written her first book, How to be a woman, and tell her: “you know nothing mate.”

“The one advantage that you have when you’re a younger woman is that all your problems are your problems,” whereas in middle-age, she continues, “all your problems are other people’s problems”.

“Middle-aged women are the fifth emergency service,” Moran says. “You are the person in the middle of society surrounded by your teenage children, friends who are divorcing, partners who are going through nervous breakdowns, aging parents and you are the one that has to hold these threads of society together.”

'Men can’t talk to each other about their problems. There are no songs about how great it is to be a boy'

Women have different sins to men, Moran says. “Definitely martyrdom is one of them. ... We like to climb up on our cross and suffer because it’s this passive-aggressive way of letting people know how busy we are. Bitching is one of our sins. Wanting other women to be perfect.”

When it comes to violence against women, Moran says, “there isn’t really any way to save yourself. This is the horrible fear”.

“The focus is always on the woman and the terrible thing that has happened to her. We know the statistics of how many women are killed. We don’t know the statistics of how many men it is that are doing these things”.

She says her next book will be about men. “When my brother moved in, he kept saying all these things against feminism. The thing he kept saying over and over again is ‘it’s easier to be a woman these days than it is to be a man’.”

“I started to see it from his point of view”, she says. “If any woman has a problem there is another woman who will be able to talk to her about that problem. We are surrounded by this informal, beautiful sisterhood network that we’ve built up called feminism.”

“Men don’t have anything like that,” Moran continues. “Men can’t talk to each other about their problems. There are no songs about how great it is to be a boy. If you said I want to talk about the problems of men, you would get laughed at.” The void, she feels, is leaving boys open to the influence of “right-wing commentators like Jordan B Peterson who are astonishingly unhelpful for young men”.

'The problem with raising strong, clever, feminist daughters who are great at arguing is the first person they practice on is you'

In asking men to share their problems with her on Twitter, Moran says the responses resulted in it being the first time she “came across the concept of female privilege. Whatever the problems are being a woman, at least I’ve never worried that people are scared of me”.

For those raising teenage daughters, Moran explains “there is a moment in your adolescent development when you have to be sexy Cinderella. ... It’s the moment that will cause the most heart failure in parents”.

“The problem with raising strong, clever, feminist daughters who are great at arguing is the first person they practice being strong, clever, argumentative, feminists on is you.”

"It’s so tough. As a parent you’re just constantly scared ... and as soon as they can tell you’re scared they scent the blood in the water and they can just get in there and say things like ‘slut shame’ and you’re just too old and confused to know what to say.”

Moran’s daughter, who had suffered from an eating disorder, encouraged her mother to write about it in her book. “If we don’t know how to talk about this subject, if we don’t understand why it happens then they’re not going to get better”, Moran says clarifying that her daughter has now “totally recovered”.

The 2022 Irish Times Winter Nights online festival – supported by Peugeot – took place from Monday January 24th to Thursday, January 27th

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