Just Read: We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“The biggest issue with writing about feminism when you don’t really subscribe to it is that you are from the get-go, wary of  the barrage of informed response from the educated women and men that consider themselves feminist. You ought to think twice about talking about feminism because any kind of disagreement automatically makes you an enemy of feminism and feminists.” – Anon

We Should All Be Feminists is a book by famed Nigerian female author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and is taken from a TEDx talk she gave on the subject of feminism.

If it had another name, it might probably be called; “An Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Feminism”. I say this because it seems each one of us is an idiot when it comes to this subject. Chimamanda in this book tries to set the record straight about what it is.

She shares her own history, that of friends and family and describes how she came to embrace feminism and how she believes it applies to everyone. Her book attempts to debunk the mysteries about feminism and the arguments against it.

Reading her story gives you one of two responses. Feminism is very necessary or feminism is very hyped.

Why do I say so? Her examples are subjective but are applied as though they are what’s going on everywhere. Either the reader identifies with them and agrees or doesn’t identify and can’t agree.

The story about Nigerian waiters frowning on women who eat food by themselves in a restaurant shocked me. I tried to imagine whether in Kampala that would happen because, in Kampala, the real issue is, a restaurant wants to make a sale and is not concerned with whether you’ve come alone or with a man.

In a certain restaurant I went to with a lady friend, she asked for the bill and it was brought to her. The next time we went there, when I asked for the bill, it was still brought to her even though this time I was paying.

The story about Chimamanda being unable to become class monitor because she was a girl is also something I would find strange because growing up in school, we had several class monitors who were girls, even head girls, who went on to beat us all academically and are running their shows now.

In Kampala, tell me which woman would sell her house just so she could get married.

As a matter of fact, I felt that the book was a strong indictment against Nigerian culture.  It seems that the gender/patriarchy issue is overgrown in Nigeria and thus feminism is hyped for those who may not identify.

Chimamanda does well to plug holes. She makes very convincing arguments against anti-feminist arguments. For example, she posits that if a Black man has struggles unique to him as a black man, why is it wrong for a woman to speak out against the struggles she faces as a woman? There are very many other arguments like these that she reasons against well.

The book is a good argument for feminism. To be fair though, it is 49 pages and in my opinion, can hardly be called a Feminist Magna Carta. While it makes very many good arguments, there are other nitty gritty’s that have to be overcome to resolve this issue.

You can find the original TEDx delivery here.

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3 thoughts on “Just Read: We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

  1. It is interesting that your critique is that she speaks of her experiences as if they were universal, but you turn around and use your own observations as if they were universal even though you are even more removed from the experiences of women. Several times when I have dined men at Kampala restaurants, my bill is given to them. Sometimes, even when I pay, my change is given to them. Also, even with affirmative action, our parliament is only 30% women (even though our population is more than 50% female) so yes, even in Uganda, women aren't automatically seen as equal contenders for leadership positions. This feminism thing; I think it is okay to just listen sometimes. Rebuttal, I know, is always very tempting but then you deservedly set yourself up for that barrage of responses, because evidence of gender discrimination remains aplenty even when we split hairs about which examples were used.

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    1. Hey Lydia. Thanks for your response. I have listened, am listening and keep listening to both sides. You're right about the issue of universality, it might not apply in many cases.

      I understand the depth of patriarchy in the society and it is saddening because it displays a huge level of double standards in our living. The question I have met however is how about those that feel they are competing fairly because like a friend put it recently, all life comes down to fairness.

      Hon Miria Matembe at a discussion once stated "Impact should not be based on women representation. Women issues are issues that affect society. It is not just a matter of appointing women into positions of power." Do we want equality in representation for the sake of equality or for the good of the society?

      Believe you me, I am listening. As for the examples, perhaps you are right that the evidence of gender discrimination remains aplenty, nonetheless is it fair when we ignore when there is actually fairness?

      Otherwise, let's continue having this discussion.

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