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Caitlin Moran Talks Twitter Spats, Clown Porn And Ageing Feminists

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Caitlin Moran is really difficult to interview. Her mind is racing. She wants to talk about everything. One minute it's Radiohead, then it's lace leggings, then we're back on the question, then we're off again. It's this giddy excitement that permeates her book on feminism - 'How to be a Woman'. In the past few weeks she has found the time to discuss clown porn with Jeremy Paxman, get into a Twitter feud with a News of the World employee and attend Mr Gay England, all while writing her three weekly columns for The Times. We tackle it all in fifteen minutes on a sunny afternoon in Cornwall.

Before the hacking, were you comfortable with the NOTW as another News International publication?
I hate that tabloid idea of anybody who is famous having to forfeit their privacy. It's awful that if some boy wants to be in a band, or be an actor, he is just basically treated like sh*t by a publication. I don't see the logic of that. Steve Coogan wants to write a really brilliant sitcom and he gets treated like sh*t, why should that happen? Because apart from getting VIP access and above average Virgin broadband customer care, there isn't that much to recommend being famous. We just chase them around, being horrible to them.

Do you regret your Twitter spat?
Oh God, with Dan Wooton? He started it! I think I diffused it quite quickly by pointing out that he was behaving like every dick who has ever been on the internet since the beginning of time. He's just a knob really.

You haven't had any other backlash from any other NOTW people?
No, no. Well they don't have access to computers now, do they? There were a couple of people who don't really understand, who were asking why I didn't resign from The Times if I dislike NOTW so much, but we're all very separate newspapers. Lots of people in the industry were very supportive, sending me salacious gossip about Dan Wooton. I, like a gentlelady, did not tweet that, even though he was ungentlemanly enough to tweet my salary. I refrained from publishing any of the gossip I was told....

Do you think feminism was becoming a bit old fashioned by the time you wrote 'How to be a Woman'?

Yes, the problem is - where do you learn about being a woman? You read about it in women's magazines, newspapers like the Daily Mail, from Sex and the City and Bridget Jones, but they don't really capture what it's like. I never see the word 'feminist' in magazines. They're all about telling you that you've got problems and then selling you the solutions. They tell you to get your face peeled, wear these shoes right now. The whole conversation about being a woman just lost its place. I think Twitter has really helped that. I know people go on about Twitter, but it is amazing. It's whatever you want it to be and all the women got in there before the boys.

When you went on to Newsnight to discuss feminism, how much did you enjoy telling Jeremy Paxman about clown porn?
It was definitely one of the highlights of my life. I never really thought that I was a bad person, or in any way an anarchist - I'm a mother of two. But I was sitting there and I realised that it was going to be another debate about feminism. I decided 'I just want to be as silly as possible, so- I'm going to compare Paris Hilton's hairless vagina to a chihuahua, and possibly I could get the conversation onto clown porn' because it was the weirdest thing I could think of. I don't even know what it is. As soon as I got back after Newsnight, I checked on Twitter and there are 300 clown-based perverts sending me the most gnarly, f**ked up sh*t you can possibly imagine. I'm seeing clowns having sex in circus rings, surrounded by seals clapping and honking on their horns as they go. It is something no human being should ever see.

The whole point of what you have done is essentially de-intellectualising femininism, making sure it's not all about theory, but about what actually happens to people. I can imagine a programme like Newsnight Review, for example, re-intellectualising it, trying to choose a framework to put it in, and then that defeating the point.
I want people to feel that they could have an argument about feminism. You don't have to study it to have an opinion about it. I've never understood anything anyone's ever said on Newsnight Review. I guess it's what happens when you go to university, you just learn to play that game of wanking on (and I mean that in a good way) about this kind of stuff.

They have a Miss England, but they also now have a Mr England. Is that progress?
I went to Mr Gay England and I was amazed at the 'choose your own outfit' round. One of them had come dressed as a boy in Auschwitz, you know, kinda stripy pyjamas, and my friend told me 'yes, that's a thing - it's very niche, but it's a thing'. But I'm just not very interested in how people look - I like friendly, funny people who are clever. I don't like the idea of simply looking at people when they're not talking. Until there's a Mr Conversation 2012, or Miss Funny 2014, i'm not interested in those competitions.

You think that Katie Price is a traitor to feminism, in fact you said she was 'Vichy France with tits'. A lot of people would disagree with you. For some reason she seems to be a role model for a lot of young girls.
I went this school in Southall to talk about role models. So many of the girls, 14 or 15 years old, chose Katie Price. When we asked them why, they said 'she's got loads of money and can do what she wants'. I was so disappointed. It's not even the sexy stuff that I care about. It's the way she uses her family. Like she did this range of lingerie and posed in a sexy outfit, covered in slap like a streetwalker at four in the morning, draped over a car - and she was holding her children's hands. In the Victorian age, if women had to take their children to work with them in the factories they were considered to have failed so badly, they were so poor, that the state needed to intervene in order to help them in a sticky situation. The idea that you, as a middle class girl, brought up with horses, who is now a millionaire would do that, I just don't understand. I can now recognise Junior Andre Price from 500 yards with a bag on his head. She's made her kids famous and they don't have an option in it and it's for the rest of their lives, they're going to be stuck in the papers.

In terms of popular culture, do you think that has helped women express themselves?

There is a big, general problem in popular culture because the women who can be seen as role models in films and sitcoms all want to open f**king cupcake shops. They've all got the gay friend, the fat friend, the posh friend. They all meet in bars to talk to each other. I never see characters that I can relate to in popular culture at all.
The whole Spice Girl thing was about being friends with your girlfriends. To paraphrase Chris Rock 'what else are you supposed to do with your friends you motherf**ker?'.
They were the biggest band in the world. There were all these cool, interesting women like Bjork, Alanis Morrisette and PJ Harvey but the ones who made it really big were girls dressing sexy again. You look at MTV through the nineties, the minute the Spice Girls came through, girls just had to wear fewer and fewer clothes, until they're gyrating around in just a bra and pants. It's distressing and silly.

What did you think about Slutwalks?

I hated how all those old school feminists said 'oh it would have been nice if they were properly dressed". I just thought 'bitch, you can't choose what the revolution looks like'. They wanted this bloody blue stocking revolution, but young chicks went out there and did off their own bat and it's fantastic. It's so patronising that they're telling younger women what should be acceptable behaviour. How dare you older feminists go 'this isn't quite perfect'?

Around the Web

Caitlin Moran (caitlinmoran) on Twitter

Caitlin Moran in talks with Channel 4

How To Be a Woman, By Caitlin Moran