Thursday saw the final night of the How to Build a Girl 2 Tour. St David’s Hall was jam packed with women and men of all ages, interests, colours and creeds. Waiting for the show to start we were treated to some pop classics including Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ and perhaps most appropriately, Divinyls’ ‘I Touch Myself’. The hall was filled with excitement, some trepidation and a general atmosphere of comradely irreverence. Caitlin Moran came on stage to an enthusiastic roar and in her usual spirit of honesty, promptly told us that she had a stomach bug and might need to leap off stage mid-talk. Despite this, and with the solidarity of the crowd, Moran continually delighted, informed and entertained, with her unique brand of witty, uproarious self-mockery.
The show itself was part confession, part manifesto, part stand-up – all of which was aimed at engendering both solidarity and laughter. Moran’s qualities lend themselves perfectly to this format. She is funny – very, very funny – brave, articulate, ambitious and rightly proud of her success. The aim of the evening was to bring people together and to empower them, the message being, ‘it’s fun where I am, you should come here too!’ This was perfectly evinced in the ‘Queen Bee’ section of the show where Moran tells the story of trying to fit in at school. The boys had a game and only one girl – the ‘Queen Bee’ – was allowed to cross the great divide and join in. This meant that naturally the girls were pitted against one another and felt compelled to take each other down. Only the most determined would get a prize worth the fight, which was (in Moran’s case) to sniff the hood of the loveliest boy in the school’s anorak!
So the opening set the parameters for the evening – no bitching and whining, no slagging off other people and tearing each other down. If you can’t join in the Star Wars game because there’s only ONE Princess Leia, start your own and make it so cool everyone wants to be in it – you then make the rules. This was a principle thematic hook of the evening; laugh at what’s stupid and find a way to change it.
Moran argues that Feminism is good for everyone because a more equal society is happier, healthier and fairer. We may criticise other countries for institutionally subjugating women but we also have a responsibility to address our own faults. For example, a beautician had told Moran that girls as young as 11 years old were asking for their pubic hair to be removed. Surely, no one should want young girls to be so dissociated from their bodies that developing pubic hair is viewed as a frightening aberration. This kind of trend makes Feminism and challenging the status quo where necessary a collective responsibility. What you do or don’t do to your body should be a choice, not a pre-determined rule.
Other voices within the feminist movement were celebrated, from the Girl Guides’ involvement with the ‘No Page 3 Campaign’ to Anti-FGM movements, ‘Everyday Sexism’ and of course ‘Refuge’ (who are the beneficiaries of the proceeds from this tour). Plurality of voice was something constantly reiterated throughout the evening. Voices are choices. If you don’t like something don’t do it. If you are not represented, represent yourself, write about what you know and feel. Confidence is a quality that can be developed. No one has bags of the stuff but you can still ‘Fake it till you make it!’
One of the most moving and identifiable moments was taking a tour of Moran’s teenage body; its varied pleasures, absurdities and frustrations. Whilst being undoubtedly funny, it served to show how much we rely on the shared experience of others to contextualise ourselves – whether with friends, partners, books or TV. Which means that when this testimony is skewed then so is our self-perception. A lot of laughs were then gained by a discussion of this, including the ludicrous notion of the Thigh Gap, ‘legs out ladies’ and Moran’s own travails with the Mooncup. The argument was then topped off (pun intended) by Moran’s own Feminist Smile – to the delight and celebration of the audience. It may be a truism but it’s important to know there is no ‘normal’ or ‘ideal’ woman. There is also a lot of fun to be had at our collective expense and the reinvention of words to own along with it; namely the ‘fudd flood’ or ‘punani tsunami’. Moran encourages us all to think about what we listen to and more importantly to challenge what we say to ourselves.
To sum up: the evening was mostly a lot of a fun but it also left me thinking; what great thing do I have to say? Why shouldn’t we all have confidence, when sharing the small moments is cumulatively vital? Also, why would anyone with even an ounce of sense ever buy white furniture? And the less said about Clown Porn the better.