We all have those books that we’ve seen in the bookshop multiple times and said “I really want to read that” (which becomes “I really should read that”) or those books we buy and then eye us with an accusatory glare each time we reach for a different book on our shelves ….
Just me then?
This was the experience I had with We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It’s a book that I not only felt that I wanted to read, but that it was one I should read.
I finally got around to doing it last week.
This is an edited version of TED talk given by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie which outlines, as you might imagine, why we should be feminists. For me it’s a lesson in how to be a feminist in the 21st century.
We all have an idea of what feminist looks like, sounds like and acts like. Whilst we might be okay with modern ideas around feminism we still have the image on the bra-burning hippy or Germaine Greer-esq female panelist on TV. It’s part of the zeitgeist – a stereotype we all know .
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wants us to move away from this image – towards what she calls a “happy feminist”
There are many powerful arguments here and different people are going to take different things from their reading of this pamflet, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s writing is powerful and persuasive, so I’d encourage anyone to go and read it.
My main takeaway was just how ingrained it is in our society that men are the leaders, based purely on their physicality, which in this day and age when intellect is far more important is a non starter as an argument.
Persuasive too is the way she speaks about how we raise children, how we must not let these entrenched thoughts seep through to them.
We spend too much time teaching girls to worry about what boys think of them. But the reverse is not the case … we spend too much time telling girls that they cannot be angry or aggressive or tough … but then we turn around and either praise or excuse men for the same reason.”
And as a (sort of) professional woman I can empathise with her thoughts on how to balance feminity and being taken seriously:
I knew because I was female, I would automatically have to prove my worth. And I was worried that if I look too feminine, I would not be taken seriously …. I wore a very serious, very manly and very ugly suit”
Ultimately feminism is seeking to make people equal, not to put women in front, but to deny that the female gender is disadvantaged is a mistake which modern feminism should look to rectify. And this is not just a fight for women but for men too!