Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Published Date: February 3rd 2015
Audio Time: 45 minutes
My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
In this personal, eloquently-argued essay—adapted from her much-admired TEDx talk of the same name—Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, award-winning author of Americanah, offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. Drawing extensively on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the often masked realities of sexual politics, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman now—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.
“The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are. Imagine how much happier we would be, how much freer to be our true individual selves, if we didn’t have the weight of gender expectations.”
I had already seen the TEDTalk that Adichie had done, so I knew what this book would be about. But I still wanted to listen to it anyway because I really loved her talk. I am still in the beginning stages of understand feminism, and the many different sides of it. So listening to Adichie and her story and why she believes in feminism again, really just brought things back into perspective for me.
Adichie brings up multiple good points in her book and talk. She very plainly just says what we as women have always been taught to think and do no matter what.
“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man. Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same? We raise girls to see each other as competitors not for jobs or accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men. We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are.”As a young women that is something that is told to me all the time. Anytime I see a family member its always do you have a boyfriend? or something to do along those lines, the first question is never to do with any of my interests or how i'm doing in college. Marriage and kids is something that is always asked us women, then are other interest in life. It's something that's always bothered me, and I'm glad that it's finally starting to be addressed.
I also really liked how Adichie made a point to talk about men and them showing their emotions and how it's not unmanly to do so. By men not showing emotions and teaching young boys to not show emotions it is actually causing a lot of problems that could be prevented if we just let them show them and get them out in a healthy way instead of constantly being told to repress them.
“But by far the worst thing we do to males—by making them feel they have to be hard—is that we leave them with very fragile egos. The harder a man feels compelled to be, the weaker his ego is.”
One day I hope to be as sure of myself as she is, because she is seriously someone who I look up to at this point in my life. She doesn't apologize for who she is, because all she's trying to do is make things equal for everyone and I think the world needs more people like her.
“My own definition is a feminist is a man or a woman who says, yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better. All of us, women and men, must do better.”If you haven't yet listened to Adichie Tedtalk please do so (I've left the video down below if your interested). Or if you can't watch the video please get the book and read/listen to it.