Caitlin Moran: 'Let's all go and be feminists in the pub'
OK, the back of your book says you've rewritten The Female Eunuch from a bar stool. What's the big idea?
Well, I'd always described myself as a feminist, but it seemed increasingly that my idea of what a feminist is was completely at odds with what professional feminists out there were doing and saying. It came to a head when I went to a meeting and there was a massive row about pornography, and all the old-school feminists just seemed to think it was totally unacceptable. There are problems in the world but pornography's not a terrible thing. Pornography will never go away. The pornography industry's sexist, and bad stuff's being made, but the idea that all pornography must be bad is really wrong. It just got to the point where I thought I need to get out there and sort it out myself.
Do you think feminism was hijacked by intellectuals and became slightly po-faced?
Not hijacked – they just became the only ones who were interested in it. I don't come from an anti-intellectual viewpoint: people from Oxbridge turn me on. But I have none of those chops at all. I have no qualifications, I know none of those words, and I haven't read those books. I come from pop culture, and I wanted it to be like rock'n'roll. I wanted someone to shout "I'm a feminist! It's really fun! Let's all go and be feminists in the pub!"
Germaine Greer has read and reviewed the book. It must have been a bit of culture shock for her.
I was quite amused because she was horrified by the fact that I'd documented the first time that I'd had a wank. I have shocked Germaine Greer! No one's made nearly half enough fun of the ridiculousness of being a woman though, so the idea of having your first wank as a girl thinking about Chevy Chase in the Three Amigos or Fletch, I find really, really funny.
Rather humanely, you suggest that the patriarchy must be knackered by now, and we'd be doing it a favour to give it a rest. For you, humour seems to be the best way forward…
It's the most human way. But also if women just turned around and were honest and said I don't give a shit, I'm not playing – I don't care what Angelina Jolie was wearing this week, I haven't got time to pamper myself, I don't care if I've got blackheads, I don't care if my arse is a bit spongy, I have not got time for you, you ridiculous capitalist construct, then the whole game would be fucked overnight.
Where did it all go wrong then?
I said this jokingly but I think it's true: that it was the Spice Girls who messed it all up. I was a teenage girl during Britpop, and you watch the footage of early Blur concerts, and they're all in Doc Martens and jeans and no make-up, and there's this brilliant, puppyish, I'm-just-being-a-human-being kind of vibe. Then the Spice Girls come along and it's like Adam and Eve eating the apple of knowledge in the Garden of Eden. And obviously, the appropriating of the phrase "girl power", which at that point overrode any notion of feminism, and which was a phrase that meant absolutely nothing apart from being friends with your girlfriends. Is that it? You're literally going to tell me as a woman that the two things that are good for me are 1) to make me feel I should go back to wearing a very short skirt, and 2) be friends with my girlfriends. And in exchange for that you're basically going to wipe out feminism for a decade? Thanks!
You write very candidly in the book about having an abortion. Why was it so important to you to include that?
It felt like a privilege and honour to write about something that's so common but that for whatever reason women haven't felt like they can talk about. It's ridiculous that women feel they have to be silent. If these experiences are so common but no one's talking about them, then that's a form of societal mental illness. I don't think there should be anything that women are embarrassed to talk about in the 21st century, because for the last 100,000 years men have said everything that's on their minds and described everything they have done.
You grew up in Wolverhampton, the eldest of eight kids. You were educated at home, then got a job at Melody Maker in London at 16. How did that happen?
It was either that or working in Gateway. I had no qualifications whatsoever, no experience of doing anything. I was also very socially awkward. It wasn't just the fact that I wanted to be a writer, it was literally that no one would talk to me in Wolverhampton. And the only way I could conceive that I would ever make friends or be allowed to talk to someone was if I became a journalist and put in to interview them. It was totally out of expediency. I'd kept a diary since I was 10, and writing is still the easiest thing out of anything in the world. I genuinely miss writing now on the rare days I don't write; my mouth waters when I think about writing, and I have an extreme physical reaction to the idea of doing it. Because you're completely in charge of your world there, aren't you? And now you can muck around on Twitter at the same time, it's double bubble.
You really do tweet a lot, don't you?
People always say this, but if they knew how much I wanted to tweet! The loveliness of being able to talk to people on Twitter and then go and write an article afterwards totally thrills me. And also, a couple of weeks ago my brother had his wallet stolen at Victoria station, and I just went on Twitter and asked if there was anyone nearby who could go and give him a fiver so he could get the tube to my house. And within 12 minutes, someone had.
Rock journalist at 16, TV presenter at 18, newspaper columnist for nearly 20 years. What else can there be to do?
The next thing's going to be a sitcom I'm writing with my sister Caz about our childhood. In the end I want to spend my 60s writing bonkbusters like Jilly Cooper. And I want to have my hair at least a foot wider before I get to my 50s.
And so what have you learnt about being a woman?
I've learnt that you tend most to make a div of yourself when you're trying to cover up the fact that you don't know what you're doing. And that simply saying I don't know what I'm doing is a massive relief. It's best if you're polite. Try to be cheerful and laugh at stuff. But that's general advice for humanity.