Non Fiction

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

we should all be feminists

We live in a society where shame can cause us to put on so much emotional armour that we are no longer connecting with others. You can call it fear, self-doubt, insecurity… whatever we call it, it’s than feeling we may get from time to time thinking we may just not be good enough. And all we do want is to hide. You may know by now, that shame is something Dr Brené Brown’s books talk about and I did explore it a bit in this post.

Why am I talking about shame whilst analysing a book about feminism? You see, how we perceive shame has something to do with our gender.

As Brown says, women tend to experience shame mostly about appearance – if we are thin, young or/and beautiful enough. Side note: of course, appearance shame is not limited to women only, men can experience it as well. It is however the number one shame trigger amongst women.

Adichie says: “forget the history of the word and the baggage it carries and think about the idea of it”.

And I agree. But before we do that, let’s address shame first.

Let’s say I tell my friend I’m a feminist and he looks at me and laughs whist saying back: “so you are telling me you stopped caring, won’t use deodorant and won’t shave your legs?”. Side note: that actually happened to me, admittedly it was more than a decade ago and had a lot to say about that certain individual rather than me… but the memory of it still stinks sometimes.

If the baggage around the word feminism targets a lack of interest in women’s appearances… then by default, it is used to instil shame in women. In other words, if you are a feminist, you clearly don’t care about your appearance, shame on you!

It bothers me.

That baggage is heavy, and I admit there were times when I would rather use a label of a ‘human activist’. Which is not a lie as I wholeheartedly believe in equal rights regardless of one’s gender, age, ethnicity, political, religious and sexual preferences etc.

But that didn’t specifically address the gender issue.

And I admit I was afraid. I didn’t want to be perceived in a certain way where I would have to defend myself. And I didn’t want to feel ashamed.

“My own definition is 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.”

Not only we can start viewing that word feminist as something both men and women could use, but we can also address how we raise our children – and that applies to raising both girls and boys.

Side note: this is not to shame anybody’s parenting skills, I believe we all do the best we can. I’m talking about more general issue that goes very deep into our origins and roles we all play in this, regardless if we are parents or not.

In general, girls tend to be taught to be careful, to stay away from danger so they won’t get hurt. Boys are encouraged to be brave, to go out and seek adventures. If a boy gets hurt, he will be clapped for being the daring one, if a girl gets hurt, she will be scolded for being reckless and told not to do it again… Boys are encouraged to be loud, angry at times. But girls.. not so much. Pleasant is a word I personally cannot stand but sadly is the one sometimes used to describe a ‘nice’ woman. Why is it that if a woman is angry, she may be perceived as hysterical whereas a man may be perceived as passionate?

What can we do about it?

“Gender matters everywhere in the world. And I would like today to ask that we 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.”

And I could not agree more.

To make this world a different world, we must think about how we interact with each other, and that includes children, and how we rise up to challenges that will then shape our future. Using shame to solve a certain issue is not a way forward, it is an easy way out that doesn’t create such world.

We Should All Be Feminists is a short essay. I listened to it as an audio book and found Adichie to be a phenomenal narrator. Her beautiful voice talked about issues I really needed to address.

It’s a thought provoking piece that is extremely digestible as it is told via stories. And there is no judgement or hate attached to it. Just an open mind and a vision for better future.

I recommend this short book to everyone.

It’s an important topic and it gave me many thoughts that still linger days afterwards.

I understand the word feminism a bit more and sincerely hope that we all can be feminists

Verdict: Hot Beverage on Apple Hot Beverage on Apple Hot Beverage on Apple Hot Beverage on Apple  Hot Beverage on Apple  (5/5)

11 thoughts on “We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie”

  1. Ahh love this review! I need to read this essay ASAP, and listening to the audio book version is a great idea. I’ve also had someone ask me if feminism means we should just stop taking care of our bodies in general…the way I usually respond is that feminism gives us the CHOICE to decide how we take care of our bodies free from the judgment we currently receive. Such a great post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I love your answer Holly. I may use it as well as I totally agree with it. 🙂

      I hope you enjoy this essay, I am really looking forward to reading Americanah as I want to read more of Adichie’s work.

      And thank you! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “Why is it that if a woman is angry, she may be perceived as hysterical whereas a man may be perceived as passionate?” Very good point. When I read books, I still tend to be a bit more annoyed by temperamental females rather than temperamental men, and it’s something I’m trying to catch myself at. Weird how even females in my generation are raised to believe that there are different standards between men and women… 🤔

    Terrific review! This sounds like a great book. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s such a great awareness to have! Well done. 👌 I think we all have stereotypical thoughts from time to time. I get annoyed if a guy lacks chivalry but then catch myself thinking ‘double standards Vera, double standards’.. 🙈 I think that’s why it’s important to admit we all can do better and we all are in this together. ❤️

      Thanks so much! It’s a very digestible essay (the audio version was under an hour long). The author did some TED talks as well and they are also brilliant. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “Why is it that if a woman is angry, she may be perceived as hysterical whereas a man may be perceived as passionate?”- I think this is true to an extent, insofar that women are too quickly labelled as “hysterical” if we get angry/passionate, but I think a lot of men in this situation would be labelled as aggressive all too quickly. I think we need to get better at recognising the subtleties of emotions and that expressing emotion does not mean we are in some way “out of control”. Anyway, very interesting review! Good that the narrator worked 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very fair point indeed! 👌Aggression sometimes gets so quickly muddled up with anger. And aggression is sometimes associated with men. Which I personally think is unfair towards men and 💯% agree with you re recognising the subtleties of emissions. As well as how we express and then interpret that expression…

      Emotions are such an interesting topic. We often say we are stressed but are in fact frustrated, bored or even angry. I love your take on it, thanks! 😊❤️

      And thanks for reading and stopping by. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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