Feminism in the 21st century

Caitlin Moran writes about her body, Rachel Cusk dissects the aftermath of her divorce and Sylvia Walby addresses ‘raunch culture’. What do their books reveal about feminism today?

Zoe Williams

feminism: nude back

Feminism is back … Caitlin Moran and Germaine Greer have both attacked the elemental shame ­attached to being a woman, but where Greer was furious, Moran sloughs it off with exuberance. Photograph: Yuri Dojc/Getty Images

What is feminism? "Simply the belief that women should be as free as men . . . Are you a feminist? Hahaha. Of course you are."

Caitlin Moran‘s How to be a Woman is firm, delightfully firm, on many things – heels (against), pubic waxing (against), abortion (for), the disadvantages of economising on sanitary products – and she is firm, she insists on, this simple definition of feminism. Feminism is just equality. Would a man be allowed to do it? Then so should you. Would a man feel bad about it? No? Then nor should you. Everything else – the pressure to be sisterly ("When did feminism become confused with Buddhism?"); the idea that we should be held to account, as feminists, for every possible ill that could befall the modern woman ("There’s a whole generation of people who’ve confused ‘feminism’ with ‘anything to do with women’") – all of that is just hassle in disguise.

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