Book Review: How Not To Be A Boy – Robert Webb



I’d heard Robert speaking on the radio about his new book, mentioning gender, depression and coping with loss, something I didn’t expect. I’d watched him in various TV shows and not really thought about Robert the man, rather than the actor.

The autobiography covers a large span of Webb’s life in detail and has the wit and humor that he brings to the television that he creates so well. I would thoroughly recommend getting the audiobook as possible as it makes the whole book come alive, particularly with the impressions of Webb’s family and friend.

This is a man who readily opens up about his faults. He candidly talks about failing his exams at 18, about how he felt he mistreated women in his youth and the fear of turning into his father. This brutal honesty is what makes Webb’s book. There’s no hiding, no excuses from him. That said, we know that there is a lot going on for him as a late teen, such as losing his mother.

Most interestingly, the book focuses heavily on gender expectations, something that Webb didn’t feel he could fit into. While his brothers were loud and boisterous, he preferred to be quiet and play. He found himself lost in what he ‘should’ be, rather than what he was, a sensitive young man who felt a little lost. He speaks candidly about how he didn’t feel he could show emotion openly he was on the cusp of being a man and men didn’t share feelings and talk. Something that lead Webb to a deep depression and almost cost him his place at Cambridge.

In this Webb lays out the ways in which these gender expectations affect both men and women and how toxic they can be to all of us. It was absolutely fascinating to read. Webb talks about his own experiences of having feelings for another boy at a young age and struggling with this and wondering what it meant. Again speaking about what it meant to be a boy, and later a man, and in his background that did not mean falling in love with another boy.

To put it simply this is a story that will promote change. Of course, it’s a very entertaining read, I laughed so much while getting through it but at the same time Webb has managed to bring in big questions about society, while making you feel like you’re having a conversation with a friend. From sexuality, gender norms and mental illness to falling in love, Webb has put his signature twist on the world and made it into, hopefully, an easier conversation to have.

I adored this book and gave it 4.5 stars! If I could change anything I’d want to know a little bit more about his relationship with David Mitchell as we all usually think of Mitchell and Webb together! That said it’s an inspiring and thought provoking read, I’d recommend it to anyone!

Feminist Friday: Currently Reading – Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay.


I thought I would do something a little different for tonight’s blog, based on what I’m currently reading. I’ve had Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist on my TBR for such a long time and I’ve finally got around to picking it up and reading it. So far it’s a chatty, funny and thoughtful reflection on life as a woman and feminist. It’s also my first book about feminism this year, I have a long list I want to get through and Gay is just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve included her Ted Talk below for those of you who want to know more.


Standing Up for What I Believe


Sometimes I open my mouth and people don’t agree with what comes out. This morning that happened in my Writing Women class and to be fair I’m surprised it took this long to get a few stony glances by way during a class. I knew there would be some contrasting opinions today we were talking about a few texts that I really didn’t agree with.

We started with some literary theory, this was safe I love theory and agreed with most of the ideas that were put forward as well as having an idea of what to do for my final essay (thank god). Then we got onto a few of the set texts and videos this week, one being Rachel Cusk’s Aftermath and the other being the film of Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin. Now, personal feelings aside I don’t like Rachel Cusk’s work from a literary perspective it seems incredibly over dramatised as well as, at points, simply odd in my opinion. As for We Need to Talk About Kevin we discussed the ideas of mothers and I felt like everyone was worshipping these portrays so I had to say something, I felt like they were fearmongering and took the absolute worst.

I talked about the mothers that surround me, about the fact that my best friend had a beautiful baby girl and I’d be horrified for her to read these as a new Mum. The clear resentment and disregard for others in the works, if you’re struggling is not something positive and as I said before I felt was incredibly over dramatised. Most of the others disagreed and felt that these kinds of literature were truthful and that we were getting somewhere by banishing this idea of the perfect mother. That said I was arguing that we rarely know about the normal day to day mother experience either and the ways children enrich their lives not make them hate it. Or hell how about writing about why some women don’t want children at all and the way they feel.


There was also the option of talking about feminism in general in relation to our critical reading. I put forward that, after discussing how women are marketed, that we cannot forget that we are getting places, after all Playboy are now stopping the naked centrefold, we have to take that as something to be happy about. We’re denormalizing it, right? I pointed out that we can’t make these women feel bad though, the women who want to model and I said that when I was younger if I was taller I would have looked into underwear and topless modelling, which shocked a lot of people. I’m not going to hide it and I feel differently now but I don’t know if that’s because of my own body image or if it’s how other people make me feel about it.

It wasn’t all bad news, I felt pretty crappy after the class because people seemed to be opposed to it. After I got out I got quite a few people come up to me and say, ‘You said what you needed to say, good on you!’ or ‘I think it was really brave of you to say what you said because no one else was going to do it, carry on doing it!’. This positivity kind of relit this spark in me, you know I am allowed to have an opinion, I’m allowed to have my own kind of feminism and my feelings are if someone wants to present their body and they are not being pressured or forced to do so then so they should.

So it might be hard and it might not always make me popular but I’m going to keep going.