Thursday, 9 February 2017

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
First published in America by Fourth Estate in October 2014.

This is my third book for the See Orange Feminist February Challenge.

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

‘I would like to ask that we begin to dream about and plan for a different world. A fairer world. 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…’
What does “feminism” mean today?
In this personal, eloquently argued essay – adapted from her much-admired Tedx talk of the same name – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 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 – an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.

I had previously heard of Adichie's now-famous TEDx speech, but hadn't watched or read it before now. Ellen at See Orange included the essay in her Feminist February list, a reading challenge instigated in response to Donald Trump's divisive chauvinism. I thought Adichie's words should also be a part of my Feminist February reading.

We Should All Be Feminists is a refreshingly common sense essay about feminism. This isn't the bra-burning, man-hating feminism of popular media fiction. Instead it looks at how the social expectations we drill into our children about their gender roles negatively affects both females and males throughout the rest of their lives. As Adichie remarks, our social structures have drastically evolved since physical strength was the determining factor of human success. 21st century success calls for non-gender specific attributes such as innovation, creativity and intelligence. Why, as a species, do we still hold ourselves back by routinely both assuming all males should aspire to such roles and excluding females from them? I see that Western society particularly insists on supposed individuality in practically every other aspect of life, but the thought of women or men choosing to breach gender boundaries, even if these individuals would ultimately be far happier by doing so, is still greeted with horror!

Adichie frequently refers to Nigerian life for her examples, but the scenarios she presents are easily as relevant to London or Los Angeles as they are to Lagos. I like her style and humour. Points are made without preaching or anger and I think most of us, female or male, will recognise ourselves at a least one point during the essay. I certainly did. Now our challenge is to change enough of the 'rules' that readers in a century's time will be baffled that such gender divisions ever existed!

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  1. I loved this speech. It's very enlightening and inspiring.

  2. I need to read more of her works. I have heard her speeches and how wonderful she is at communicating her points in a fair and relevant manner. I am looking forward to reading this one as well.

    1. If you've not already got a copy, the ebook is only 99p on Amazon UK at the moment!