We Should All Be Feminist by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Book Review: Back2Back Feminism)
My book obsessed tendencies lead to duplicate themes in my personally library. I must have been on a women's power kick one day at the bookstore, because I purchased two books on feminism that day. In Back2Back posts, I'll review each book separately.
I don’t ever recall hearing my mother call me a feminist. She has used many words to describe me- activist, stubborn, and bookish, of course- but feminist, or feminism, are not common place terms for her. Why would they be? Feminism is a heavy word, weighted down by generalizations, misconceptions, and messy, group in-fighting. She would fully deny it if asked were she a Feminist, and I would probably agree.
I, on the other hand, am a proud Feminist. It was the thing upon which I placed all my moral decisions (like how I went vegan for a while in my late 20s because I read a book linking female oppression to animal oppression). In college I attended rallies and feminist mixer parties. I wore t-shirts with catchy phrases on them and donated to places like Planned Parenthood. I continue to live my life fully and loudly as feminist as I can. So how could someone like my mother, a woman uninterested in mainstream feminism, have created someone like me?
She gave me books and filled my life with strong female authors.
Authors like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. In her book, We Should All Be Feminist, she is unapologetic in her declaration to use Feminism to improve inequality. She knows first hand the weight of the word, as she recounts childhood stories for clarification and mapping out reasons for enacting on social change. This written adaptation of a 20 minute, 2012 TedxEuston talk, does not yield more than a 52 page book. Nevertheless, the inspiration you gain after reading (and re-reading) those 52 pages is limitless, and beautiful, and makes you want to do crazy things like open a bookstore and save the world. It’s also a nice short text to review anytime you are feeling beaten down by the patriarchy.
Adichie stole my heart when she said on page 28 to do away with the word emasculation. It has always had an air of chaos, in such that neither the man nor woman in the situation would want to relay harm to the other, but both are entangled in some sort of figurative form of combat. I have been asked many time if I "was worried that men would be intimidated by me," and I have the exact same thoughts she does- that is surely not the kind of man I want or need in my life. This leads into her larger thoughts on social language, or how we talk about things differently when it involves women versus men, even in the same situations. She takes time to talk about how changing culture should save many of these problems, because we as people make up our cultures, and not the other way away. She reminds us to stop shaming our daughters, and place equal attention on raising feminist boys. When you stop seeing this book as small, you realize it has so much to unpack.
What I loved most about this book is the idea that saving the world will start with Feminism. We Should All Be Feminist is a true embodiment of my goals as a woman, and as an ally to other women. I am a card-carrying FEMINIST, who loves men (and women!), who wants to end racism and social class inequalities. I stand by the ideas of Feminism, the fight for equality and justice for ALL WOMEN, by questioning the social normative that women are somehow less than men. I question it daily. Thank you Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for sounding the call, and reminding us that there is quite a bit of work left to be done.
You can check out her website here.
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About the author
Black & Bookish is the brainchild of Antoinette Scully, educator and lover of all things bookish. She is on a quest to guide the authors of tomorrow into the bookstores of today. When she's not hanging out on line, she's living it up as the mother of two rambunctious girls and wife of a local filmmaker.