This week I am going to go a bit off piste and will be reviewing an essay by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: We Should All Be Feminists (adapted from her 2012 TEDx talk of the same name). Adichie is best known for her novels Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun. If you haven’t read them – do so now (after reading this of course!).
Adichie introduces her talk by reminding us that in some circles, in some societies, the label ‘feminist’ may not be the positive label we hope it is. It can be in a “‘You’re a supporter of terrorism‘” kind of way or a way of describing a woman who is angry or just can’t meet the man of her dreams!
This, Adichie so astutely recognises, has led to the work ‘feminism’ carrying around alot of “negative baggage“.
Adichie goes on to explain how whilst centuries ago it may have been appropriate for men ‘to rule the world’ as they were the physically stronger sex – an important attribute when hunting etc – that is not the world we live in now. Now, the most appropriate sex to lead is not the physically stronger of the two but rather the “more intelligent, the more knowledgable, the more creative, more innovative. And there are no hormones for those attributes.”
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
She requests a change. A change to the world where men and women are happier. How does she propose we begin this new word? By raising our sons and daughters differently. To teach our sons that ‘being a hard man’ is not the definition of masculinity and to teach our daughters to strive for every success.
I wholeheartedly agree and support this.
This essay got me thinking about feminism in my life. I am one of those professional women who work in what some may call a ‘man’s world’ (the City of London in a very traditional profession) which to some extent is true. Saying that, I have never felt prejudiced as a result of being a woman…Yet.
As Adichie quotes from Wangari Maathai “The higher you go, the fewer women there are.” I am acutely aware of that.
As so many women in my generation progress, we will be fighting against:
- that “negative baggage” associated with strong, independent women who are labelled ‘aggressive’ or ’emotional’; and
- ‘must fill a quota’ bordering on positive discrimination heavy HR departments.
As I rise, I don’t want my gender – or my race for that matter – to even be a factor. No woman does. I want to be the best PERSON for the job.
Further, Adichie makes a point of referring to man and woman’s fear of a man’s emasculation – I wonder…is there a female equivalent? Can a woman be de-feminised? A simple Google search failed to throw up anything in this regard but I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on this?
Recommended for: all men and all women of all ages!
Favourite quote: “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.”
Thanks for reading – I hope you enjoyed it!