In this essay -- adapted from her TEDx talk of the same name -- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, award-winning author of Americanah, 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 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 -- and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.
Adichie's thoughts on feminism are worth reading; however, I think this essay would have worked better as a chapter in a collection of essays, or even as an article in a magazine, rather than a tiny stand-alone book.
I will say it feels like cheating to add this to my list of read books, since it only took ten minutes to read.
This is a topic whose discussion can and does fill a small library's worth of books, but Adiche pares the whole thing down to its essentials. The things she has to say are, at heart, pretty simple, but they're simple things that need saying, and she expresses them well. Definitely worth reading, whoever you are and whatever your thoughts about feminism.
The book is an adaptation of a talk Adichie gave at a TEDx conference about Africa. Adichie is a native of Nigeria who splits her time between the U.S. & Nigeria. This book uses examples from her life in both countries to illustrate how both cultures are in need of more feminist voices. She reminds us that we, the people, make culture, and if that culture is not serving us well, it is time to make culture anew.
A fast, fresh read.
Notable quote from the book:
"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."
While I absolutely agree with her main idea and issue (gender equality, etc.), and I find myself agreeing with many of her points, there are a few (very few) that I do disagree with. I also find the talk/book to be.... interesting in that it is very (very) heavily anecdotal. No stats are given, no real "news/sources/information" is given. Its (nearly every new section starts this way) very "I have a friend who" or "I know someone who" or "this one girl told me" or "this one woman wears a wedding ring BECAUSE" and some of that.... is problematic. Especially for instance, the story of the woman who wears a wedding real _because_ __SHE__ feels that its the only way to get respect. Which, COULD very well be... but we don't know for SURE that thats true. We're not told (IF) if she ever tried NOT wearing the ring to see how people would take her. And its then a bit disingenuous now on that woman's part, because if any person attempts to have conversations with her (she wears the ring at her workplace to appear more credible), say about marriage, married life, her husband (not to be exclusionary, or her wife), she has to either lie then, or come clean that she only wears the ring for a purpose, which predisposes people then to view her in a different light.
While much of her points are very good, and I agree with them. Things like that are a bit skewed and bias driven. Also, the one anecdote of the two colleagues who are married; they have the same degree, same job, and are married to each other. But that when they get home, the woman is assumed to do all of the house work, (ie. cleaning/cooking/etc.). Now, this anecdote is brought up to point out how they both work and have the same job and money, but the woman is made to do the extra work of the cleaning/house work. No talk of how much work the man does as well. Which presumably is, yard work, car maintenance, general "fix-this" around the house stuff. Which she might even take, to her point of how women are brought up to do house work and men are not, which if thats the case, and the two are obviously educated colleagues/spouses working together, isn't it just as much on that wife to not assume she has to do the housework and he has to do the fix-this masculine tasks of the house? Whose to say maybe he wouldn't bestow her the housework if she didn't assume it? Or isn't it presumptuous to assume he should do the yard-work, fix-this chores? Again, who knows, for all I know, the guy could come home from work, veg out in front of the TV and drink. But we're not told anything other than 1) they both work together at the same job, with the same degree, and everything is the same, 2) they come home, she has to do housework. That's all we're told, and then we're told why this is wrong. Nothing else, and all very vague and generalizations. (Obviously so this fits in with her theme, and the biasness there-in).
But like I said (and not to nitpick or over-critique minor things) much of her points are definitely things I agree with (especially as a husband and father of three daughters), but just reading this, it comes across as overly anecdotal and that is a bit off-putting. It seems well presented outside of the anecdotal-ness to it, and I will definitely have to search YouTube for the actual talk clip to watch, to see if there's more she let out (or visual presentations as well).
Still definitely worth the read, and makes me even intrigued to read her fiction works.
"Culture does not make people. People make culture. If it is true that the full humanity of women is not in our culture, then we can and must make it our culture."