Today was the perfect day for some much needed R&R (reading and relaxation) time. So after watching a few episodes of Bob’s Burger on Netflix, I decided to disconnect and tackle the books that I had gotten in a recent book haul on Amazon. I finished the final chapter of the mystery book that took me a month to read and decided that I would dive into some of the great works Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I read Half of a Yellow Sun a few years ago and hadn’t had the opportunity to read any of her work since so I was excited when I got my hands on a copy of “We Should All Be Feminist” that was originally adapted from one of her famous TEDTalks.
So I found me an awesome sun spot in my room, made me a huge cup of warm chai and prepared to have my life handed to me. Although, I do wish it were a longer read, her words did pack a powerful punch and it was really interesting to see how “feminism” showed itself in so many different ways culturally whether in America or in Nigeria. So in between sips of chai, I found myself with a bulk of yellow stickies making notes and sticking them in between the pages I wanted to read over and over again. Here are six times I got my life, snapped my fingers and let out a “yaaaaasssss” as I read along. Had I been at her TEDTalk, I’d have probably been that one black woman doing that.
“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 likeable. 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. All over the world, there are so many magazine articles and books telling women what to do, how to be and not to be, in order to attract or please men. There are far fewer guides for men about pleasing women.”
“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. And then we do a much greater disservice to girls, because we raise them to cater to the fragile egos of males. We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller.”
“A Nigerian acquaintance once asked me if I was worried that men would be intimidated by me. I was not worried at all–it had not even occurred to me to be worried, because a man who would be intimidated by me is exactly the kind of man I would have no interest in.”
“We use the word respect for something a woman shows a man, but not often for something a man shows a woman. Both men and women will say ‘I did it for peace in my marriage.’ When men say it, it is usually about something they should not be doing anyway. Something they say to their friends in a fondly exasperated way, something that ultimately proves to them their masculinity–‘Oh, my wife said I can’t go to the club every night, so now, for peace in my marriage, I go only on weekends.’ When women say ‘I did it for peace in my marriage,’ it is usually because they have given up a job, a career goal, a dream. We teach females that in relationships, compromise is what a woman is more likely to do.”
“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. That the problem was not about being human, but specifically about being a female human. For centuries, the world divided human beings into two groups and then proceeded to exclude and oppress one group. It is only fair that the solution to the problem that should acknowledge that.”
“Some men feel threatened by the idea of feminism. This comes, I think, from the insecurity triggered by how boys are brought up, how their sense of self-worth is diminished if they are not ‘naturally’ in charge as men.”
If you didn’t get your life after reading those quotes, or if you weren’t prompted to get your own copy then I don’t know what else to tell you, but it sparked something in me. She made it a point to make feminism a universal cause. We should literally all be feminist just as we should all read this book!
Next Up: “Americanah”