by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Published July 29th 2014
Everyone should read this book.
This is a publication of the author’s famous TEDxEuston talk with the same name. It’s a well-argued essay that’s about fifty pages long with some modifications from the talk. I read it in about an hour and I absolutely loved it.
“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.”
Where do I start with this?
I have always been wishy washy with the whole feminist talk. I never liked the word or even considered myself as one. And now I feel like that is criminal. I wasn’t blind to all the things women go through or how the society had dimmed them normal. That wasn’t it. I knew that there were hardships but I just pointed out the nonsense and moved on never for a minute thinking of myself as a feminist. I think it’s the whole ‘why do men get away with this but women cannot’ thing that put me off it. Why aim to be like a man? Why not fight for something because you want it, not because you see someone else having it?
But I have to say this book made me change my perspective about the whole feminist agenda if I can call it that. It gave me so much insight on something I had come to cringe at whenever it came up. This is what a true feminist is about today in my opinion.
This book is so powerful and I feel it should be a mandatory read for boys and girls at a young age. It’s the kind of book that makes you discuss topics you normally keep away from. The general expectations from each gender is getting old with a society that has evolved from what it used to be.
“What if, in raising children, we focus on ability instead of gender? What if we focus on interest instead of gender?”
I get so irritated when in our culture men are ridiculed for cooking. Yes, that happens! If a man dares to say he was in the kitchen making a meal and the wife was in the house at the time, he will never hear the end of it. They will look down on him. Then the women expected to take care of the children after working the same hours as the man? Ridiculous!
“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.”
What about the fact that girls are constantly going against each other because of men? Because society has made it acceptable. Woman are always asked to behave a certain way so that the can get a husband. God forbid you become too successful before marriage! I have a cousin who told my sister that it will be difficult for her to get a husband because she got a new car. A nice car. And he made it clear it would be intimidating. Why the hell should that be intimidating? Why not be proud of your bomb ass lady for getting it? Such comments are so common. I know someone who is a pilot but when she goes on dates, she says she is an airhostess because she has learnt that saying she is a pilot puts off a lot of men. They demeanor completely changes when she says that but when she is an airhostess they can handle another date. Yes, that happens. It makes me so angry that it still happens in 2016!!!
“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.”
Our cab guy has said that men don’t like opinionated women. They don’t want someone who is loud and speaks up when they see anything wrong. And so he says it will be hard for us to get husbands. I always laugh when he says it and he has said it plenty of times. He says we have to import the men because the men in our country will not be okay with that. And he says it in a joking manner but sometimes I wonder if he is subtly trying to pass on what he might consider as advice.
“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 likable. 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.”
THIS IS A NECESSARY READ!
I wish I could go on a campaign in every school and ask the teachers to include it in their literature classes. It will serve to educate the children, both male and female. They will learn to accept themselves as they are rather than how the society dictates they should be. I could go on and on but I won’t exhaust the feelings this book brought out.
Everyone should grab this book, for your mothers and fathers. For your brothers and sisters.