We Should All Be Feminists By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Genres: Non-fiction, feminism
Published on: 29th July 2014
Rating: It deserves all the stars in the world
A personal and powerful essay from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the bestselling author of ‘Americanah’ and ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’, based on her 2013 TEDx Talk of the same name.
What does “feminism” mean today? That is the question at the heart of We Should All Be Feminists, a personal, eloquently-argued essay – adapted from her much-viewed Tedx talk of the same name – by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of ‘Americanah’ and ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’. With humour and levity, here Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century – one rooted in inclusion and awareness. She shines a light not only on blatant discrimination, but also the more insidious, institutional behaviours that marginalise women around the world, in order to help readers of all walks of life better understand the often masked realities of sexual politics. Throughout, she draws extensively on her own experiences – in the U.S., in her native Nigeria – offering an artfully nuanced explanation of why the gender divide is harmful for women and men, alike. Argued in the same observant, witty and clever prose that has made Adichie a best-selling novelist, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman today – and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.
What did I like about this book?
This book raises so many issues, subtle issues that shows sexism that women face every day but which both men and women ignore, these are things that everyone needs to know about. I spend hours to decide what I am going to wear just because I don’t want to be taken lightly. I feel that if I look too feminine, if I wear too dark a lipstick they won’t take me seriously. Like this issue the author talked about several other subtle issues that we have accepted as acceptable unknowingly, but are actually examples of gender based discrimination.
It also talked about how patriarchy has done disservice to men as well. It has created men with fragile egos and has stifled the humanity of boys. If men behave even subtly like women we are quick to judge or bully them. In feminism we mostly forget to mention how lack of feminism has also impacted men. I am so happy that this book mention this.
Apart from the above points the author talks about plenty of other things related to her life in Nigeria. She shared a lot of anecdotes from her life in Nigeria and what is her take on sexism she experienced there. She also talked about sexism in America.
What did I not like about this book?
There is nothing.
It is a very beautiful book and I think everyone should read it once in their lifetime. It is just a really great book and it is also a really short one, so if you even have only 15 minutes to spare, do give this book a read.
“If only boys are made class monitor, then at some point we will all think, even if unconsciously, that the class monitor has to be a boy. If we keep seeing only men as heads of corporations, it starts to seem ‘natural’ that only men should be heads of corporations.”
“We spend too much time teaching girls to worry about what boys think of them. But the reverse is not the case. We don’t teach boys to care about being likeable. We spend too much time telling girls that they cannot be angry or aggressive or tough, which is bad enough, but then we turn around and either praise or excuse men for the same reasons.”
“We do a great disservice to boys in how we raise them. We stifle the humanity of boys. We define masculinity in a very narrow way. Masculinity is a hard, small cage, and we put boys inside this cage. We teach boys to be afraid of fear, of weakness, of vulnerability. We teach them to mask their true selves, because they have to be, in Nigerian-speak, a hard man.”
“What if both boys and girls were raised not to link masculinity and money? What if their attitude was not ‘the boy has to pay’, but rather, ‘whoever has more should pay’?”
“We say to girls, ‘You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful but not too successful, otherwise you will threaten the man. If you are the breadwinner in your relationship with a man, pretend that you are not, especially in public, otherwise you will emasculate him.”
“These Nigerians have been raised to think of women as inherently guilty. And they have been raised to expect so little of men that the idea of men as savage beings with no self-control is somehow acceptable.”
“The sad truth of the matter is that when it comes to appearance, we start off with men as the standard, as the norm. Many of us think that the less feminine a woman appears, the more likely she is to be taken seriously. A man going to a business meeting doesn’t wonder about being taken seriously based on what he is wearing – but a woman does.”