Book Review | We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

We Should All Be Feminists Book Review Paige's PagesTITLE: We Should All Be Feminists
: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
: Fourth Estate
: October 9, 2014
: Essay, Politics
: 52

This pocket-sized essay is developed from the famous TEDx talk by Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie.  Although it will take less than an hour to read, its message is powerful enough to resonate for a lifetime.  With exceptional clarity, it uses personal stories to make the damaging effects of gender politics visible to a universal audience.  We Should All Be Feminists is crucial reading for every man, women, and child.  

Gender matters everywhere in the world.  And I would like today to ask that we should begin to dream about and plan for a different world.  A fairer world.  A world of happier men and happier women who are truer to themselves.  And this is how to start: we must raise our daughters differently.  We must also raise our sons differently – page 25

Consider this your “feminism 101” or “starter kit for gender equality”.  Chances are you don’t realise how much gender politics affect you on a daily basis.  Destructive constructs of masculinity and femininity affect every person on the planet, from self worth to salaries.  Adichie reveals many ways in which harmful gender politics are embedded in virtually every aspect of society, culture, and politics.  Unlike the average essay, Adichie’s text has a keep-it-simple-stupid integrity.

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 – page 26

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 spend too much time telling girls that they cannot be angry or aggressive or tough, which is bad enough, but then we turn around and either praise or excuse men for the same reasons – page 24

Adichie’s no-bullshit approach to gender politics is a wake up call – so much of what society normalises stops us from being authentic and happy.  She makes an important point of defining feminism; the topic of gender affects everyone, and should be championed by everyone – not just women, and not just men.

The best feminist I know is my brother Kene, who is also a kind, good-looking and very masculine young man.  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 – page 48

We Should All Be Feminists is by far the simplest, most engaging, and most unsettling explanation of gender politics I have read.  It should be available everywhere and read by everyone.  Adichie explains that it is only through ownership of the problem and readiness to contribute to the solution that the world can be improved.

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