It pains us to say it, but comedians are about the only philosophers we have these days. Those who cast an eye over the world and find it worthy of critique are more marginalised now than ever. Thankfully we
seem to have funny, entertaining people around who can wrap a spoonful of comedy sugar around the apparently bitter pill of education, whether that’s politics (Stephen Colbert), current events (The Onion), critical thinking (James Randi) or – and don’t be scared off now – feminism.
Caitlin Moran is not a comedian per se, but she’s a UK columnist, novelist, former Melody Maker journo and one-time music TV host. She’s also smart, and How To Be A Woman slips a how-to guide to contemporary feminism into what the unwary might just think was a minor-celebrity memoir. Moran puts forward some astonishingly clear-headed thinking about where society could do with a tune up, how to spot hidden sexism (short version: ‘are the blokes doing it?’), and a tonne of anecdotes about various ways she’s made a fool of herself. But each goofy story is just to get you to drop your guard long enough to slip the shiv of political awareness between your ribs, even as she’s tickling them.
It’s a shame that we only pay attention to smart people when they’re funny. Thankfully, we’ve got people like Moran on the planet.