Why This Is A Must Read — We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie {Book Review}

we-should-all-be-feminists-by-chimamanda-ngozi-adichieTitle: We Should All Be Feminists
Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Publisher: Vintage
Release Date:  July 29th, 2014
Standalone/Series: Standalone
Genre: Non-Fiction – Essay

Goodreads link

My rating in stars: 5 stars
My rating in words: Must read

What it’s about:

An eBook short.

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 humor 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 behaviors that marginalize 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, and abroad—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 bestselling 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.

My thoughts:

“He told me that people were saying my novel was feminist, and his advice to me—he was shaking his head sadly as he spoke—was that I should never call myself a feminist since feminists are women who are unhappy because they cannot find husbands. So I decided to call myself a Happy Feminist. At some point I was a Happy African Feminist Who Does Not Hate Men and Who Likes to Wear Lip Gloss and High Heels for Herself and Not For Men.”

We Should All Be Feminists is an essay by award-winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, based on her TEDx talk on feminism. It’s very short, and can easily be read in about 30 minutes. And I would highly recommend everybody to read it, men and women alike.

Because gender equality and feminism is such an important topic that unfortunately still has so many misconceptions. I mean, how often do you hear someone make a (intended or not) misogynist remark that has you stopping for a minute, thinking “This does not sound right.” But nobody replies or even realises it because a lot of (misconstrued) ideas on gender have become so internalized. Certain things have become normal. And we need to realise this so we can do better.

That is what Chimamanda explains beautifully in this essay. She explains all these big concepts in a very easy, understandable but eye-opening way. She managed to efficiently summarize ideas floating in my head that I never really was able to put into words.

Like said in the essay, a lot of people think “Why feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights?” That’s the same misjustice as when you would say that all lives matter, not just black lives. Or saying sexual pride instead of gay pride. It is a way of denying that there is a problem. A way of denying a certain group of people who have been faced with injustice.

So why don’t I give you a few quotes from the essay to give you a sense of what it is about? And really, I could basically quote the entire essay because it is just that quotable. Then please read it. Or even watch her TEDx talk if you don’t feel like reading. Because being called a feminist should not be an insult. And if we want things to change, it starts with us. We need to understand these concepts, get rid of our internalized ideas on gender and then share them with people around us so we can learn to do better.

Favorite quotes:

“Some people ask: “Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?” Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general—but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women.”

“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.”

“In the recent US elections, we kept hearing of the Lilly Ledbetter law, and if we go beyond that nicely alliterative name, it was really about this: in the US, a man and a woman are doing the same job, with the same qualifications, and the man is paid more because he is a man. So in a literal way, men rule the world. This made sense—a thousand years ago. Because human beings lived then in a world in which physical strength was the most important attribute for survival; the physically stronger person was more likely to lead. And men in general are physically stronger. (There are of course many exceptions.) Today, we live in a vastly different world. The person more qualified to lead is not the physically stronger person. It is the more intelligent, the more knowledgeable, the more creative, more innovative. And there are no hormones for those attributes. A man is as likely as a woman to be intelligent, innovative, creative. We have evolved. But our ideas of gender have not evolved very much.”
“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.”
“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.”
Have you read We Should All Be Feminists? What did you think about it?

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