WE SHOULD ALL BE FEMINISTS by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

What we think of another living being, how we experience it and how we perceive its existence and impact on ourselves, can determine the fate of that being.

Adichie’s story:

 “Some people will say a woman is subordinate to men because it’s our culture. But culture is constantly changing. I have beautiful twin nieces who are fifteen. If they had been born a hundred years ago, they would have been taken away and killed. Because a hundred years ago, Igbo culture considered the birth of twins to be an evil omen. Today that practice is unimaginable to all Igbo people.”

 Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s story

The twins are well today, as good as anyone in Nigeria can be. The culture in which they live has changed or, perhaps more accurately, people have changed and modernized their opinions and attitudes towards twins. And that determines, again, their destiny.

 We teach girls shame. “Close your legs. Cover yourself.” We make them feel as though being born female they’re already guilty of something. And so, girls grow up to be women who cannot say they have desire. They grow up to be women who silence themselves. They grow up to be women who cannot say what they truly think. And they grow up — and this is the worst thing we do to girls — they grow up to be women who have turned pretense into an art form.

 Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie tells us in this short book, which is actually a reworked and edited text of a speech she gave at the TEDxEuston conference, about how her culture still sees and experiences women today, and how it determines a woman’s destiny. In Nigeria, of course.

 Culture does not make people. People make culture. If it is true that the full humanity of women is not our culture, then we can and must make it our culture.

 Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists

But the author has been living in the US for years and occasionally visits her country. This gives her the opportunity to re-compare the position of women in these two economically and culturally and educationally, and some would say civilizationally, completely different countries.

Things are not very different, says Chimamanda. The only difference is the forms of reactions to one and the same perception of a woman – that she is something “lower” and that she is something that is “someone’s” and that she is something that is essentially evil and should be restrained and controlled.

Nigeria and the rest of the world do not seem to differ in their experience of women; however, the complex diversity reigns in the ways in which female value, her status as a human being, is pushed into the background; in the ways in which a woman is controlled; in the ways a woman is placed or reminded of her place. And this, Chimamanda says, is changing the fate of women anywhere in the world.

In order to become the creators of another culture – which does not kill its “twins” – we need to learn and constantly remind ourselves, and the generations to come behind us to learn that we should all be feminists.

 The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists

I love having this little booklet on my shelf, but you can enjoy the whole content by watching Chimamanda’s TEDxEuston speech posted on YouTube

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born as the fifth of six children of John Nwoye Adichie, a professor of statistics at Nigerian University in Nsukka, and Grace Ifeoma, the first woman to be employed in the student service at the same university.

At the age of 19, she went to the United States, where she studied at various American universities. She graduated with a degree in creative writing from John Hopkins University, and her poetry, short stories, and plays have won numerous literary awards.

She published her first novel, “Purple Hibiscus”, in 2003, followed by other published works; the novel “Half of a Yellow Sun” (2006), after which the film was made; a collection of short stories “The Thing Around Your Neck”; the third novel, “Americanah” (2013), was included by The New York Times in its 10 best titles published in 2013.

Part of the text from the speech and the book “We Should All Be Feminists” was found in the song “Flawless” by American R&B singer Beyoncé, although Chimamanda has repeatedly stated in interviews that her view of feminism does not match on how the famous singer sees it.

 A world of happier men and happier women who are truer to themselves. And this is how to start: We must raise our daughters differently. We must also raise our sons differently.

 Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists

In addition to this, there is her book, “Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions,” which was written when a childhood friend sent a letter to Chimamandi, asking her for advice on how to raise her daughter as a feminist. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie responded with as many as fifteen points – tips that are irresistibly direct, perceptive and mildly colored by scathing humor. Sounds like something I would definitely love to see on my shelves.

12 thoughts on “WE SHOULD ALL BE FEMINISTS by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie”

  1. There is nothing to be inspired like this. Your blog post directed me to the right thought and emotion I was looking for, now I know where.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for introducing me to another impact voice in the feminist community. There is something that has stimulated my own thoughts and that is “What we think of another living being, how we experience it and how we perceive its existence and impact on ourselves, can determine the fate of that being.” That’s certainly worth some thought.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This, THIS is so important. The quote you chose couldn’t have nailed the concept into it any deeper. Like that’s it. That part. I wish people understood how important this topic is and how deeply rooted the oppression and inequality for women is in society. Thank you so much for speaking on this.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This post had me thinking a lot. I have only one daughter and I am thinking – did I raise her the right way? Did I instill confidence in her so that she will be able to go out into the world believing in her self and trusting her own capabilities? I will have to check that out.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. So many interesting quotes here…sounds like a great read to check out. It is crazy how society changes over the course of time, and how somethings and stigmas still haven’t.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Chimamanda is legendary and I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog post today. She is one of the few feminists who truly have not lost the plot on what it means. I love reading her works and I understand more and more that re-education of both sexes as we view each other and our interactions are so key. We all do not have to be placed in boxes, we can just be who we are end.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. loved to see the response your post evoked…it is strong content like this that needs to be reinforced consistently…thank you for taking up the mantle and doing such a wonderful job of creating awareness and shedding light….keep it going

    Liked by 1 person

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