Caitlin Moran on Being Absorbed Into The Middle Class
This Longreads interview of Caitlin Moran is hilarious and great. She talks about the hell of writing a book (hint: do not drink 12 cups of espresso before noon) and teen fantasies and masturbation and all that good stuff. She also has some interesting insight into what it’s like finding success and being ‘absorbed into the middle class’:
I keep being told that I can’t be working class anymore, because I now have this posh sort of accent and I live in a nice house and I’m successful. The middle classes absorb you and take your life as their victory. You join their team against your will. What that means is that all the things to do with the working class are to have failed, and to be poor, and to not succeed. And that’s complete bullshit.
I think she’s drawing an interesting distinction between class as actual socioeconomic status versus identity. Or also just, ‘where you came from’ vs. the privileges and lifestyle you now enjoy.
Why do I never hear about how clever the working classes are? It’s always just like, “Yeah, they’re just good at drinking and being animals that we can use to fuel industry.” It’s like, no, they’ve got a different way of thinking. I can be so much more stupid now I’ve got money. If my toilet breaks, I can get a man to come mend it. But when my dad’s toilet would break, he would have to take that toilet apart and work out how to mend it. If you’re poor, you have to invent things, and it’s that inventiveness I love so much. The Beatles being the case in point—they just took what they had and turned it into something amazing. A middle class band would never have done that.
I also wonder how much her Britishness is at play here. Is being working class in America ever as romanticized? Maybe so. But by the people still in it?
I feel this way about a lot of my identity — Catholicism, Southernness, singledom, pregnancy, the list goes on and on. We want to hold onto these things as much as we want to be done with them. I think it’s natural – they shaped you. But you’re middle class now. It’s boring. Or neutral. Sorryyyyyy.