I read this review and straight after I finished it, I knew I want to buy Girls Will be Girls. Call me strange, dumb or even humorless (although I’m far away from it), but almost everywhere celebrated and admired ‘rebellious’ Caitlin Moran and her How to Be a Woman I considered as a waste of my time, money and paper altogether. Whole book is written in self-absorbed style and Caitlin, trying to be hilarious, missed those possible interesting points. Where Julie thinks Emer is boring, I think she even may be right (in some parts), but still I would prioritize Emer with her academic point of view at issue of being a woman, than Caitlin who, at least for me, tried too hard and in the end didn’t say anything mind-blowing. So yes, although this paragraph was probably unnecessary to read, for me it felt necessary to write.
Girls Will be Girls is a both entertaining and educational, nonfictional collection of lessons of gender performativity, structures and author’s own affirming experience, to which many other women can relate. It is the popular phenomenon called “Girls will be girls and boys will be boys”, which is (more often than not) harmful to our society and future generations. Such saying simply doesn’t seem right and yet it’s rooted so deep in our perceptions, that we don’t even realize their absurdity anymore. Starting from so invisible things as the way each gender put their towels around themselves, to more obvious such as one’s acceptable aesthetic assigned to certain gender.
What I recall the most is part of the book, where Emer, after spending one year ‘naturally’ (meaning hairy) returns to ‘normal’. It’s a beautifully written affirmation about what it nowadays means to be a woman, preferably widely seen as an attractive one. You better have a decent hairdo, at least semi-professionally done manicure (preferably with pedicure, because who wants to touch that HARD SKIN ON YOUR HEELS?!), get your (at least) legs waxed – if you are too scared, you can shave the rest by yourself, and please don’t you dare to forget your brows, alright darling? And no, you don’t need to thank me (or Emer actually) for this very useful manual because guess what? The so unwanted truth is that not everybody likes it! Some people have a thing for hairy legs, some don’t feel like having an intercourse with a prepubescent girl. And that’s perfectly fine, but unfortunately the message you get from media is exactly the opposite. Until that time, you can become famous for your hairy armpits.
As much as I liked the academic and another serious parts of the book, the combination of Emer’s experience and experiment didn’t match up so smoothly, therefore I found it sometimes more difficult to get into. Nevertheless, Girls Will be Girls is certainly worth reading. It’s full of surprising details of life some people deal on everyday basis and it really made me questioning my own behaviour and looks. Plus, Emer’s ideas of twisting stereotypical behaviors and habits are incredibly amusing.