The Sunday Times: Review: Born Lippy: How to Do Female by Jo Brand — but is she out of date?


I really like Jo Brand. Growing up, I admired her as a feisty comedian. Now I love seeing her as a witty, curmudgeonly host on Have I Got News for You. All of which makes it tricky admitting that I dislike her book. But, I do.

Presumably in a marketing meeting it sounded brilliant: advice on “How to Do Female” from a mental-health nurse turned feminist comedian. The reality is more confused. The advice is scattergun, messy and disjointed — so one minute we’re talking about Princess Diana, the next bucket lists. One moment we’re on fly-tipping, the next parties.

The book often feels outdated, too (there’s a lot of talk about “in my day”). Brand’s claims that the female body is a site of “anxiety” and “shame”, and her dismissal of high-heels as “uncomfortable”, aren’t just boorish, but ignore the current empowering sexy-feminist wave. I don’t recognise her image of women desperately calling men, or being shamed for sleeping around. I don’t think her claim that periods are taboo is still true, given the run of tampon companies making “blood-normal” campaigns and tampon tax making endless headlines. At one point, complaining about the legal treatment of rape cases, she cites a judgment from “as recently as 1983”.


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