Caitlin Moran in Conversation at The National Concert Hall – Thursday, 23rd May 2013
I really didn’t know how to write this blog. There is far too much to say, and so much that I don’t know if I allowed to say in the way of expletives. I first learned of Caitlin Moran when I stumbled across How To Be A Woman browsing around The Gutter Bookshop one day about a year and a half ago; my first time in there, actually. I picked it up because I liked the cover, she said she had wanted this to be a picture of her “feminist smile”. The title also interested me, Moran said she liked the idea that a person might buy it thinking it was a self-help book and that she was going to give you loads of advice, “when actually, all I said was ‘f**k it’. It was my massive manifesto of ‘whatevs’.”
Following Sinead Gleeson’s introduction that basically she needed no introduction, Caitlin Moran marched out on stage all smiles, tartan, denim shorts and big hair. Then stopped us all straight away to take a picture of the 1200 capacity sold-out National Concert Hall and tweet it immediately. She loves Twitter; loves how she can tweet funny things from her kitchen while making her kids dinner – “then thousands of people retweet it, and I put on the pasta. Naked.” She then sat back looking as relaxed as you’d imagine she would be at home on her couch in front of the TV with a glass of wine of an evening. She had gin last night, though. The minute she set foot upon it, Caitlin Moran owned that stage, having the audience up standing and then shouting ‘ay-ooo’ within seconds. We were in the palm of her hand and we laughed through every minute of it; which is no mean feat when still managing to broach subjects like abortion, rape, sexism, racism, class war, and of course, feminism.
It was determined early on how many men were in attendance, this was what the ‘ay-ooo’ was about. Having witnessed only 5 or so men at the Fifty Shades of Feminism event on Monday, I was surprised that there seemed to be quite there, as was she. She said she heard about men being made to read How To Be A Woman by their wives; that when they started they thought “Oh, my Caitlin Moran is as crazy as my wife”; then half way through they would think “Oh, ALL women are as crazy as my wife”, and by the end they realised that actually all women are crazy because of the treatment they get, they began to see the point and the reason for feminism.
Moran has also been hailed for introducing a new generation of women to feminism, and explained how she knew she needed feminism from an early age. The eldest of a family of eight, and the first of three girls before a boy came; she said it soon became clear why there was three girls – “they were waiting for a boy!” She quickly noticed how different he was treated – “His one job was to bring out the bins, which took two minutes, while I was stuck peeling 500 potatoes every day.” Also laughing that when her mother was harping on about something to her father, he would always just say ‘Alright, Germaine Greer!’ – “So I was aware of Feminism. I just thought Germaine Greer was the bad guy, and not the good guy.” And who was her feminist role model? “Sarah Ferguson – she’s a fat, ginger commoner and she married royalty. That was genuinely inspiring.”
On the subject of power, she talked about how she is noticing as she gets more fame and more money that the things that society thinks are masculine aren’t really at all – they are just about power. She likes to play her part in this by not brushing her hair. The more successful she gets, the more she just wants to be scruffy. She does think a change is happening – but it’s slow. That with feminism it is slow. She explains that music is first, and discussed her love of Lady Gaga during the evening. The comedy is next, which has started happening with the likes of Lena Dunham’s Girls, who she also loves and spoke of the Twitter eruption around her interview with her; but also Bridesmaids – “everyone now wants women being funny and a bit disgusting.” Film is next, and we’ll soon see big female centred action movies, and sci-fi heroes, etc. The last thing is legislation – “Culture is the source of change.” She spoke a bit about the storm around Savita Halappanavar, and the issue of abortion in Ireland, and said that if she could use her feminist powers to change opinions she would use it over the people who have the power to legislate on abortion laws in Ireland. That in the end, “it’s all about politeness, ” and people shouldn’t be telling other people what to do, anyway. I could go on for hours about what she said, topics covered and the humour she brought to each and every one of them, but then this would probably be a novella and not a blog update.
Toward the end of the evening, she was standing in the middle of the stage with her top up and her hands holding her tummy to make it smile – her “feminist smile”. To a standing ovation and resounding applause she said “Thank you for listening to my smutty Marxist filth!”, and sauntered off stage to sign books for people for what is likely to be the next three days. I am still so terribly upset at myself that it never occurred to me to bring my copy of How To Be A Woman, but then I’d probably still be standing in that phenomenal queue of her fans.
Written by Caelen Dwane.