As you would expect, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is wonderful when she talks about feminism. And why not? She’s wonderful when she talks about everything else. In this essay, an adaptation of the TED talk sampled by Beyonce in “Flawless,” she argues that the necessity for feminism is in everything we do, in the air we breathe. To be a feminist doesn’t mean to hate men, or society — it means to hope for better from men and from women and from society, and to act in ways that promote that ideal of being better.
Many of the anecdotes Adichie tells take place in her native Nigeria, but many of them could just as easily have happened in America: the casual contempt of her friend’s use of “feminist” to describe her; the valets who thank her male friend for a tip she gave him — these are things that have happened to me in my own life. As minor as they are in the moment, they add up to this constant low- (and sometimes abruptly high-)level feeling that women are not full, worthwhile members of society.
Nor does Adichie limit herself to the harms a sexist society does to women. Women, to be sure, are damaged by societal expectations, but so are men. “Masculinity,” Adichie writes, “is a hard, small cage.” When we put women in a box that says “sweet,” “submissive,” and “pretty,” we’re creating an equally confining box for men that says “tough,” “provider,” and “unemotional.” These gender norms hurt us all, and we are all responsible for working to fix them.
When’s Adichie’s next novel coming out, btw? I am just curious.
This essay was made available to me for publicity purposes, via NetGalley. This review has been for Aarti’s wondrous A More Diverse Universe blogging event. Visit her links page to see what everyone else is reading, and check out the hashtag #diversiverse on Twitter!