Women are made to feel like a problem, feminist author Caitlin Moran told her audience at the Stoke Newington Literary Festival last weekend.
The talk was the first memorial event in honour of Mary Wollstonecraft, the 18th century feminist writer who lived and worked in the area. Wollstonecraft argued in her time that women are not naturally inferior to men, but only appeared to be because they lacked education.
Anna Birch, the host of the event, wanted to raise awareness about a project aiming to build a memorial statue of Mary Wollstonecraft, or “the mother of British feminism.” “She married William Goodwin and gave birth to Mary Shelley who went on to write Frankenstein. The significance of this woman is not in doubt, this woman is a world leader.” said Birch.
Feminist writer Suzanne Moore who interviewed Moran about her book, How To Be A Woman asked, “you are not very angry in the book. Was that a strategy?” “Very much” Moran said, “I don’t want to argue with anyone at all. I just want to convince people, I want people to hear me, and I want to change their minds.”
”If you write with anger, people will just respond with anger.” she added. Discussing how people might be looking at the word ‘feminism’ as something negative, Moran said, “if we would stop talking about ‘feminist issues’ and start talking about ‘problems of humanity’ then that would make a massive difference.”
Moran said, “when you open a woman’s magazine, it tells us; ‘Hello, really disgusting person! I got 374 suggestions on how you can use money, time and pain on becoming… marginally better!’” “Mens magazines, on the other hand, are like ‘TITS! YAAAY!’” she added.
Moran explained that feminism “means being equal to men. That’s all that feminism means. And if you believe in that, then you are a feminist.” She maintained that if someone would say to her that they were not a feminist, she would get quite “edgy”.
Topics like equality, abortion, myths, body issues, parenting and menstruation were all discussed during the event. Whilst Moran and Moore discussed modern feminism in a fresh and quirky matter, the audience responded with applause and good-humoured laughter.
The event sold out and approximately 500 people attended, where about 100 of them queued to get Caitlin Moran’s autograph after the talk ended.
Sam Van-Rood, 39, from Bethnal Green, said, “she is even smarter and better in real life. She is an entertainer.” Rowena Cox-Willmott, 21, from Stoke Newington, agreed, “she is a bit like a religion, she is fantastic!”
“She is a very important woman with good ideas, and I love the fact that she’s an entertainer” said Han Ates, 44, owner of a local restaurant which supported the festival.
To read ELL’s exclusive preview of the festival, click here.