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Caitlin Moran Wants You To Call Yourself A Feminist

Author Caitlin Moran at the 2016 Hay Festival.
Andrew Lih/Wikimedia Commons

Gloria Steinem said that a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle. In the era of Trump, you might say that a woman needs Caitlin Moran like a fish needs a fishbowl.

Moran is a British journalist, columnist for the Times of London, and author of the bestselling book "How To Be A Woman," a call to feminism for the 21st century woman. Now she's back with her raucously funny take on politics, pop culture, and feminism with a collection of essays called "Moranifesto." 

Moran joined Jim and Margery to discuss politics, Brexit, President-elect Donald Trump, and more. Highlights include:

On how she responds when young women tell her they're not feminists

The reason I wrote "How To Be A Woman" was so many girls came up to me in bars and said, “Yeah I’m not really a feminist." And I would go, "okay, I absolutely accept what you say, because I will presume this: I will assume you did not go to school and you did not get an education that was equal to that of boys, that you had no option to go into further education because that is closed to women. The very few employment options you had—all of which will be curtailed off after you get married—when you did get your paycheck, all that money went to your husband.  You’re not allowed to own property in your own right. If you had children they would be the legal property of your husband, not you, and that you are absolutely fine with all that. I’m presuming that’s what your life is, and you’re happy with it. Because if that's what it was, it means yeah, you’re not a feminist. But if you did go to school, if you were educated, if you do keep your paycheck, if you do have legal rights over your own body and co-own your own children, I have to tell you: Congratulations, you are a feminist, and you live that life because other people who proudly came before you and used the word 'feminist' fought for that and sometimes died for that."

On Britain's vote to leave the European Union

We just kind of hoped we’d sacrificed ourselves by being really dumb and Brexiting, that we were doing a test case, like "guys—don’t do this kind of thing, don’t go crazy and nihilistic and tear apart democracy and the world order we’ve spent 50 years building together in order to try convince your peace." ...Turns out you were watching thinking, "that’s a great idea!" I don’t know if our expressions are too upper lip, but the expression we had after Brexit was one of horror, basically Edvard Munch’s "The Scream." You seem not to have seen that, so sorry…

I think the main thing that’s happening at the moment is this is all trickling down from 2008. There was massive crash, you saw all those experts on TV who didn’t know what was going on and had no plans for the future. You’d be saying: "Will there be stimulus economics? Austerity?" And they’d be like, 'We don’t know!" And nobody got fired. Nothing happened. And people’s lives were trashed. Expectations of a better life disappeared. Incomes dropped between 25-45%, and nothing happened. A huge amount of energy started to happen among the lower and middle classes, and what you see is a huge amount of energy directed upwards. This is a huge nihilistic, almost punk rock, vote against the entire establishment...

There was this feeling of Britain finally admitting it wants to be small. We had been part of this massive continent, and I think the Brexit vote was: "Yeah, we don’t want responsibility for these things. We don’t want people to knock on our doors when there are wars. We just want to retire now. We’re old." It was a very old vote and it was the same here, wasn’t it? The older people are going: "I’m tired, I want to put up walls, I don’t want to expand. I don’t want to deal with new ideals." The young vote is saying: "We want change, we want things to be different, we want inclusiveness." When this older generation dies off, we will see new political parties, we will see new ways of doing things.

On the similarities she sees between President-elect Trump and British politician and "Leave" campaigner Boris Johnson

I think what we have got understand is people like big personalities as leaders. We see that with Trump. He’s a reality TV star. Boris Johnson used to be a journalist, and he’s just more of a kind of amusing sideshow. He’s in the classic 'Hugh Grant stuttering upperclass buffoon' role. Install him as a shopfront prime minister to do all the photo ops and being charming at dinner, and then you get some kind of massive policy maths wonk behind the throne doing all the hard work, which Boris clearly does not want to do. I’m kind of hoping that’s what’s going to happen here. Trump is going to trump around trumping, and some clever people behind the scenes are actually going to implement policy. 

On one of her ideas for political change that she lays out in "Moranifesto"

The whole idea behind "Moranifesto" is we all complain about politics, and I’ve always thought that if you started complaining about something three minutes ago, two minutes ago you should have started doing something about it. So I've written my political manifesto. I think everybody should. We need to get more ideas on the table.

One [idea] I think is very important is the paying of corporation tax. I think a shop, if it pays its tax properly, and so many—Amazon, Facebook, Google, do not pay their tax—any shop or guild or corporation that does pay its tax should have a plaque on the door that tells you. They should be Kitemarked companies. These are companies that understand they operate within a community and a society: the people they employ would have been educated by the state, the roads their employees drive on would be built by the state. You have to pay into this system. You didn’t come out of the sky and operate in a bubble, you have to acknowledge you’re connected with the world. I would have Kitemarks, big plaques on doors so companies could feel proud about this. They would have access to ministers and legislators in order to be able to have a more free conduit to the corridors of power, rather than it being the other way around. Reward it!

To hear more from Caitlin Moran, tune in to Boston Public Radio above. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.


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