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APW Book Club Locations


It’s that time again. It is APW book club weekend! I know it’s not possible that you have missed me blathering on about how we are going to read MY NEW FAVORITE BOOK EVER How To Be A Woman, by Caitlin Moran, but early responses from APW-ers show that my enthusiasm is not misplaced. So! Details!

APW Book Club Locations | A Practical Wedding

(I know, right? You just saw that spreadsheet and kind of got dizzy. I mean, a meetup in the Antwerp Train Station? Just… whoa. Ok, focusing.) Most meetups are happening all over the world on Saturday, November 5th at 1pm. (Check your city for your particular time.) APW editor Maddie has compiled a list of book club locations and contact people. Please click the above image (twice!) to see it nice and big, and see exactly where your local meetup is being held. If you have any questions go to Facebook for more information and find your city’s meet-up thread. The APW staff will be making a strong showing in San Francisco, and I will be there with way too much to say about this book. Drinking. Obviously.

Now! Just like always, we’re going to crowd source some book club questions to kick off discussion and break the ice. Throw the questions you want to discuss in the comment area. Just questions though, no discussion! I’ll post a list of questions on Friday, and we’ll follow up next week with lots of online discussion for those of you who can’t make it to the book clubs.

And! After the book club, please post pictures in APW’s Flickr pool, and email Maddie at maddie at apracticalwedding dot com notes on what happens. I swear to you, we never get tired of seeing your faces, and cows, and sex club shopping trips, and sparkles.

I can’t wait. This is seriously going to be SO MUCH FUN.

The End,


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  • FawMo

    Just finished the book this morning and am BEYOND excited to talk. Meg, you didn’t let us down!

  • abby_wan_kenobi

    I lovedloved this book.

    Question: Moran feels that she’s not good at being a woman, that she’s “doing it wrong”. Do you feel that way? Does everyone? Do men? Did Ad Men invent that feeling to sell beauty products? Are women self-perpetuating that feeling by holding each other to some unspoken standard that expects me to be super-feminist-career-lady, fashionista and domestic goddess all in the same week? What kind of insidious plot is this?!

    • meg

      Fucking brillant.

  • Morgan

    I don’t know how to phrase this as a question, but: talk about going grey, and ageing “gracefully”. Moran argues for going grey – but could you do it? (I’m almost 30, have long dark brown hair and the greys are popping up regularly, so I have already vested more thought that I should have about this.)

    • meg

      I’m 1/3 white. I might do it one day, when I’ll ALL white, but I’m not going to be salt and pepper at 31. If that answers your question ;) But good. MORE QUESTIONS.

      • Morgan

        At the moment, I just pull them out as I see them. (I figure my hair is so thick that my hairdress has to thin it substantially already, why not do it manually for the white ones?) Also, pregnancy doesn’t seem like the right time to start dying waist length hair…

        • liz

          PREGNANCY? am i really late in finding this out?

          • Alyssa

            WHAT?!? ME TOO!!

          • Alyssa

            As in I’m late in finding out too. Not being pregnant too.

          • meg

            People haven’t been paying attention to Morgan’s commmmmeeeeeennnnnntttssssss. I’m not saying who.

          • liz

            IT WAS ME. i haven’t been paying attention to many comments. or blog posts. or internet. sob.

          • Alyssa

            It’s me too. *SIGH* I own up to my status as a oblivious d*ck.

            Also, CONGRATULATIONS!!

          • Morgan

            Yeah, I’m 5 months pregnant. Due in mid March, right around our wedding anniversary. That counts as a gift, yes?

        • Marina

          I have a theory pregnancy causes grey hair! I got my first ever three grey hairs within months of getting pregnant. Kind of awesome, because now I can say all of my grey hairs ever are the kid’s fault.

          • Morgan

            I wish! Mine started showing up when I was 24. There’s more now, but is that pregnancy or the fact I’m turning 30?

    • Victwa

      I’m 37, and definitely have streaks of grey in my hair. They kind of look like highlights– or at least the ones in front do, but I’m not dyeing them at all. And how do I do this? Just being insanely interested in other things besides making hair appointments. Once you start dyeing your hair, it’s a commitment to keep it touched up, because I think poorly dyed hair (or roots that are clearly showing through) looks way worse than some (or even lots!) of grey. I have lots of other things in life I’d rather commit to, and it hasn’t lessened the number of times I get hit on randomly, so apparently any worries about grey equaling “the-male-gaze-finds-you-less-sexy,” should that be something anyone is worried about– my experience is that it is a totally unfounded worry. (I’ve actually had several people–male and female–tell me how they thought it was super-attractive that I had the confidence to let my hair be itself.)

      • meg

        I’m glad this works for you, but it totally depends. Being heavily white in my late 20’s did not do wonders for *anything.* People told me I looked old all the time, and I did. And I was YOUNG. (Streaks of grey sounds lovely, and this is not what we’re talking about with me!) And you know, my colorist is super rad, undercharges me, sees me every two months or so, and is a highlight of my life (SF ladies: I’ve got his info!). So. Once I go all white, it’s a whole other ballgame, and we’re streaking it out with platinum, but till then, no. It shows no lack of confidence to want to look… your age… when you prematurely grey.

  • ElfPuddle

    Women live in fantasy-land? I thought that I was the only one with a way-too-vivid-for-comfort imagination. Perhaps that’s just Moran and I? Are her reasons for fantasy-land near the ballpark or off? Discuss.

  • Dori

    “And drinking. Obviously.”
    While I totally embrace the festive spirit of these gatherings, the frequent mention of booze is a little off-putting to me, a non-drinker. I know there are others who abstain for religious, medical, and personal reasons and it would feel more welcoming if alcohol wasn’t billed as central to these events. Can we focus on other aspects of the gathering (good company! deep thought! treats!)?

    • meg

      Feel free to not drink at these events, for whatever reason you want. I’d say mentioning drinking is just part of the APW brand, however, it might not be a fit for you. Which is totally fine! Most of these events are, however, held at bars and pretty boozy, so I think it’s better for you to know that in advance, then be surprised by that fact. Though of course the APW ladies are deeply welcoming to all comers.

    • abby_wan_kenobi

      Depending on how densely populated your locale is, you might be very light on drinking. Events I’ve attended in the less populous South have been nearly dry – at least partly because participants are driving in from some distance. People who live in the boonies where there’s no public transportation or taxi service keep the emphasis on fried food and good conversation :) Anyway, count your blessings citydwellers.

      • Maggie

        Ours has been at a coffee shop, too, and will be again this time, so not boozy… and the times we have had alcohol, most of us had to drive a ways, so we kept it pretty mild. I’d come for the conversation even if there wasn’t food or drinks!

    • Morgan

      It also depends on your city. In Calgary, we meet in a coffee shop and there is no drinking, besides lattes/tea/water. Just because it’s the venue that works for us. Like everything else in life, take what works for you (say, the conversations) and leave what doesn’t (booze).

    • emily rose

      Last time I attended in LA, we had an insanely tasty brunch and we drank WAY MORE coffee than booze. No pressure!

  • Abby C.

    Wah, I can’t make it because it overlaps with my bridal shower! Hmm…maybe I can coerce attendees to read the book in a matter of days? ::wicked laugh::

    • Aine

      Well, aren’t bridal showers “supposed” to have a theme these days…

      • H

        Ha. That’s a topic in and of itself. This book as a theme for a bridal shower? *cue maniacal laughter*

  • FawMo

    While I understood where she was coming from, I had a hard time completely accepting Moran’s concept of women as “losers”. I appreciate her defense against the “well you can vote and have birth control, so stop whining” notion but did this sit funny with anyone else? Discuss.

    • meg

      Can you flesh out this question a bit? I like it, but it’s a little unclear.

      • FawMo

        I’m not sure I totally know what I’m asking!

        Moran introduces her concept of women as “losers” of history. That for centuries and centuries it was men that explored, conquered, ruled, discovered, in essence “did” while women simply “were”. Moran argues that it was simply logical to conclude that women were less-than because for a long time they didn’t have much experience under their belt or victories to point to. Now that women have achieved some victories (the aforementioned voting and birth control) some folks want the so-called “whining” of Strident Feminists to stop.

        I guess I feel like this overlooks the history of systemic and institutionalized sexism. I understand deeply that Moran is a card-carrying Strident Feminist but the concept of “losers” seems to brush over the very active keeping women down that happened for millienia.

        It also seemed to set up men as enemies of feminism, which they are not and she acknowledges as such.

        • Amanda

          Yeah, she also mentions somewhere that we have no Einstein girl, no Mozart, no amazing writers etc… And I think this point is at least discussable so I vote for this question. If necessary I can cite the whole paragraph (since I underlined it, cause I was shocked by it).

          • Anna

            But doesn’t she go on to say that of course, it’s not enough to just be able to vote and have birth control to suddenly produce creative geniuses and such? I think she later mentions the years of oppression, etc., and sort of ends on a positive note in this discussion with Lady Gaga and such. At least I interpreted this whole “women are losers” thing as a bit sarcastic on her part.

          • Amanda

            Umm yeah, but that is another chapter (Role models I think). Overall in the end it is positive, as in after years of being psychologically crushed and after the liberation movement only now (in pop culture) as a reflection of the rest of society can se start seeing the effects.
            But I do believe there were great women in history and there always have been. Scientists, writers, painting, politicians (Cleopatra anyone). That is the point that I would like to at least discuss.
            Of course she has a point in us being the ones getting pregnant making it difficult for physical activities like chasing and war, but on the creative and intellectual level, I would like to talk about this thoughourt history, not today. I don’t necesarily agree that on this aspect we always were losers. We were probably just not getting the publicity. There were writers under male pseudonyms etc. And sorry I know I was not meant to argument here, but I think it is a different point.

  • Victwa

    Is there a Ben & Nick’s in SF, too? I thought it was in Oakland….

    • Anne

      You’re right. We’re meeting in Oakland, actually — check out the forum thread on facebook.

    • meg

      It is in Oakland. It’s just the “San Francisco Area” meetup. More info on Facebook, as always.

  • Alia

    Question: In her chapter on fashion, Moran comments on certain items that she feels society considers essential for any woman to own. Do you agree that there is a requirement on items that you must have to be a “real” woman? What are these items? What happens if you don’t have one or more of them?

  • Morgan


    How do you feel about Moran’s abortion stance? Controversial or logical? I know abortion can be a touchy issue, but she addressed it in a way you don’t normally read about – especially comparing her miscarriage to her abortion.

    So, porn. Her pro porn stance isn’t the usual stance you hear from avowed feminists. Did you agree? (Did you think she should stop paying for porn and start looking for the amateur stuff where it’s a lot easier to find things with both people having fun?)

    And this is APW, so we pretty much have to talk about weddings, right? Her wedding sounded rather dreadful, especially days after a miscarriage. Does her rhetoric go too far? As in, does her dislike of her own wedding colour her feelings about weddings in general too much? Hasn’t she ever been to a fun laid back happy wedding? As a critique of the mainstream wedding industry it may stand, but her feeling that it’s a huge inconvenience and that everyone hates having to go to weddings is directly opposite to my own experience at weddings.

    • FawMo

      I read the chapter on abortion first. I knew it would be a good limitus test for me.

      I also wanted to bring this up as a point of discussion.

      • meg

        It’s funny. That was the one chapter I didn’t love, mostly because I felt like, “Oh god, it’s a feminist book, so we have to do the abortion chapter.” Even though I liked what she had to say in it. I think I just worry that the subject of abortion does more to rip feminism apart than any other. I want it to be ok for us to all to disagree on this issue and still be feminists. But it was a good chapter.

    • Basketcase

      Seconded about the wedding chapter.
      The whole “its miserable, you look awful, no-one wants to be there”.
      (and here comes my university education!)
      *Compare and contrast with the “Your wedding is not an inconvenience” stance taken by APW. Which do you feel is more valid and why? Does this apply to all weddings, or is it something we are selfishly holding on to in the vain hope of making our wedding seem more important than it really was? (ie, have you ever felt like someone elses wedding was an inconvenience / burden, while trumpeting the APW stance?)

  • Jessica Schilling

    Gah, must finish the last few chapters before Sunday!

    I’m really interested, probably because APW is a wedding and marriage blog, about how sad the wedding chapter was, how even as a feminist, she wrote about such low expectations for guys and grooms to do anything but show up and not be expected to care about anything with the wedding. Moran seems to be saying “Ladies, learn from me and try not to get sucked into the wedding craziness because weddings are always a big disappointment” rather than “don’t get sucked into the craziness because there are non-crazy ways to get married.”

    • meg

      I know, right? And then you find out she had a miscarriage the week before the wedding and you just want to give her a hug. And then take her to a AWESOME feminist wedding.

  • Liz

    Early in the book, Moran mentions women’s inability to communicate with one another sober – and this really resonated with me (as a recovering pure-as-the-driven-snow “good girl”).

    Why do we feel need to keep up a facade for other women? Is it related to anticipating them being judgemental? Is this a tacit acceptance of the standards society sets for us/we set for ourselves and she spends the rest of the book trying to debunk?

    I always thought this was just me, but if someone as badass as Caitlin Moran needs a drink or five to tell her friends what porn she likes or whatever, it has to be more of a broad issue….

    • Umpteenth Sarah

      Love this question!

  • Amanda

    I am so excited. That is all. It is my first time meeting another APW girl in person :) And all this discussing ,and having fun :)

  • Basketcase

    ok, scrolling through my highlights on my kindle and I come across a couple of topics that could be good for conversation (I assume my page numbers match what would be in the physical book):
    *The porn industry being the reason we are all “expected” to wax down there. Do you agree this is the reason? If you wax, do you wax because its expected, or because you like it? (p47-49)
    *Cunt. Offensive? (p62). Why is it that so many things about being a woman still seem squeamish?
    *The rejection of the word Feminist. (p80). How do we reclaim it? Why are we ashamed to call ourselves feminist? What do we see as the meaning of the word, and how does this compare? (eg the having a cleaner example on p84)
    *FAT. Is it the new “most-offensive” swear word? (p106-109). What about overeating? Why is it seen as so weak and offensive? (p116) “the lowest ranking of the addictions… a way of f’ing yourself up whilst still remaining fully functional, because you have to”. (can I just say, ouch, been there!)
    *The why you SHOULD versus SHOULD NOT have babies chapters. Just in general – compare and contrast. As someone who *has* kids, does she still make a rational and positive argument for not having kids? Is having kids the “easy option, because… at least people stop asking when you’re going to have kids”?

    Personal favourite quote :) “I’m sorry, that sounded a little… uncivil” as a response to sexism. Brilliant.

    • Amanda

      Yes to discussing: “The rejection of the word feminism”. I personally from my own silly prejudices that I had to break had trouble recognizing myself as one (though I obviously had been spoiled with all the benefits, ahem 10 years at school at a profession previously mostly governed by men), but it was because of all the negative connotations associated with it and perhaps my own cultural background. So we could talk about that, about what makes (some of us) scared to say it out loud (not anymore thank God for this book., Meg)
      and about the importance of analyzing and breaking our own prejudices.

      -I would also suggest talking about the media / fashion, I am thinking of the sexualization of women / little girls as in the examples she gives in the whole chapter about Katie Price. Not sure how to develop this as a question, but I find it scary that there are push up bras for 8 year olds in the market. (Influence of the music videos, videogames etc).

  • Rachel

    Any interested Houston ladies can contact me at racheldumas (at) gmail (dot) com

  • Chelsea

    I haven’t finished the book yet, but here are some questions I’ve come up with (forgive me if I’m repeating what others have already brought up):

    How do you reconcile her support for porn with her hatred of strip clubs?

    Does her position as a wife and mother (and a fairly young wife and mother, at that) affect how you see her arguments? How?

    How does her position as a celebrity (but one who we Americans aren’t very familiar with) affect your reading of this book? Because some of what she does in the book – an occasional name drop, complaining about the price of purses – would drive me up the wall if it was written by a celebrity I was more familiar with. Since I don’t know her, though, I read past these things more easily. I’m still working out how I feel about that.

    • abby_wan_kenobi

      Related: Moran tells a lot of stories from what I’m thinking of as the “broke years”. She was giving interviews as a celebrity in a house that had no electricity. Its a good reminder that fame does not necessarily indicate wealth.

      Do we ignore the reality of the lives of celebs? It’s easy to judge a topless reality star in a hot tub, or a stripper, or a porn actress, but are we overlooking the complexity of the person when we ignore their motivations? Are we demonizing and dehumanizing those we don’t approve of we pretend they don’t have bills to pay?

      And what about Moran’s ignorance about paying her taxes? She seemed woefully unprepared to handle her own finances. Did you feel this same way at the age of 20? Do you feel like you’re knowledgeable enough to make good financial decisions now? Do you think men are better prepared than women or do we all make the same mistakes?

      • meg

        I was going to throw a similar thought in here, as someone who now, oddly, is viewed as sort of well known in tiny circles! It’s funny how the realities of being a human, don’t change at all with a book deal, or I’d venture to guess, even with a best selling book.

        I know Moran is a columnist for a Murdoch paper who also does freelance writing, which is not exactly the makings of unimaginable wealth, even if you are interviewing Lady Gaga. So anyway, I think what you’re asking is *dead on* Abby.

  • Lauren

    Sorry so late!

    1. I know many people thought this book was funny, and I laughed a lot on the second reading, but the first reading was kind of heartbreaking because I felt like her childhood was… mine. So I want to hear from others. What was your 5 things list when you were 12 or 13? How is that heartwarming or heartbreaking? What was it like being the fat/nerdy/reader/whatever you were adolescent? How did that affect who you are today?

    2. Most of us were pre-tons-of-internet porn. What were our sources of fantasy growing up? Were they as varied and “friendly” as Moran discusses?

    3. Re: 12-13 year old girls getting bikini waxes: aren’t you all terrified to raise kids? What do we do to help our kids be kids for as long as they need to be?

    4. Moran’s view on being judgey (p.85): Is being a judgey bitch (as I often call myself) right or wrong? Or just normal? Discuss.

    5. Re: if you are “human-shaped” then you are not fat (p. 110): What if you are human-shaped but still uncomfortable or unhappy? Whose place is it to decide who is fat or not?

    6. How do YOU fight sexism in today’s world without looking like a “crazy bitch”?

    7. How does the difference b/t “bachelors” and “spinsters” compare to the insinuation of “Mrs” vs. “Mr” (where the woman is supposed to show her marital status in her title)

    8. Heels, thongs, waxing… Moran spends several chapters raging against common things that women choose to do. Where is the right or wrong with these choices?

    9. Finally: What do YOU call your vagina? (I just think this is awesome)

    Sorry if this didn’t make any sense- it’s late and I’ve had, ahem, SEVERAL cocktails.


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