I love Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. Half of a Yellow Sun and Purple Hibiscus are both amazing books, and Americanah is definitely on my long TBR list. This tiny little gift book, We Should All Be Feminists, is based on and expanded from Adiche’s excellent Ted talk on the same subject.
Because it’s so short and because the beautiful, graceful, wise and warm Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche is a better writer than I am, I’m just going to share with you verbatim what I thought were some of the greatest insights from this book (although there are many, many more). It’s an interesting, accessible and thought-provoking quick read for any feminist or feminist-decrier. I recommend it as a nice gift for either.
“We do a great disservice to boys in how we raise them. We stifle the humanity of boys. We define masculinity in a very narrow way. Masculinity is a hard, small cage, and we put boys inside this cage. We teach boys to be afraid of fear, of weakness, of vulnerability. We teach them to mask their true selves, because they have to be, in Nigerian-speak, a hard man. … 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. … We raise girls to see each other as competitors – not for jobs or accomplishments … but for the attention of men. We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way boys are. … We police girls. … We teach girls shame. Close your legs. Cover yourselves. We make them feel as though by being born female, they are already guilty of something. And so girls grow up to be women who cannot say they have desire. Who silence themselves. Who cannot say what they truly think. Who have turned pretence into an art form.”
“What struck me [about her friend who had problems with misogyny in the workplace] and many other female American friends I have – is how invested they are in being ‘liked’. How they have been raised to believe that their being likeable is very important and that this likeable trait is a specific thing. And that specific thing does not include showing anger or being aggressive or disagreeing too loudly.”
“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 must raise our daughters differently. We must also raise our sons differently.”
“My own definition of a feminist is a man or a woman who says, ‘Yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better.’ All of us, women and men, must do better.”