While reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TedTalk essay titled We Should All Be Feminists, I honestly was not surprised by her words. In our current culture, we hear about feminism quite a bit. I knew of and have heard her arguments many times. However, that doesn’t mean I still was not affected by her words. While reading this short essay, I could not help but think about the events in the show The Handmaid’s Tale. This weekend I binged the entire first season, so it was fresh in my mind. Adichie paints a picture of the male-driven society that we still live in today. She recounts many times when she could not go places alone. In The Handmaid’s Tale the remaining fertile women are forced to the role of procreating. They are not allowed to own property, have jobs, read, drive, go anywhere alone and much more. While watching the show, I often wondered how something like this could happen in the United States. But the flashbacks prove that one right at a time they gave to us and one right at a time they took it away. Adichie’s piece reminds us that there’s still so much progress that needs to be made. As an female, I always wondered why the word ‘feminist’ was chosen, when it means to represent both genders equally. However, Adichie shines a light on the issue of the word choice, “but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender.”
What does feminism mean today? The common meaning of the word, as defined by Chimamnda Ngozi Adichie is a “person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.” This current, broadly approved definition of feminism is the least threatening for those who do not agree or have negative connotative definitions for the work feminism. As in Adichie’s book, those around her told her to not define herself as such because it means everything but what it should. One person said that it means she ‘is unhappy because she cannot find a husband’ or hates men and that it is ‘unAfrican’. These definitions all center on the notion that a man is the center of a woman’s life. The woman is simply not unhappy with her life, but because of the absents of a husband. And because she cannot find a husband she now hates all men. Which is in essence an ‘unAfrican’ trait because of the way African society and culture is set up around a man. As seen in the picking of class monitor, who is greeted in a restaurant, and thanked in the exchange of money.
How these products of society and roles we act, are so strong, that we cannot break out of them? The answer is that humans are social beings, who bury what they really feel deep in themselves. The examples and experience can differ between Adichie’s Nigerian home and America. One example she gives is the American females need to be ‘liked’ and how being likable is in some way equal to being respected. This is a byproduct of the American society. While being liked will allow a woman more leeway with a group of individuals because it is expected of her, therefor she is playing her role and not trying to deviate from a norm. And when the role is not played expertly others feel as if they are being lied to and lash out. Like the woman who took over the job from a male coworker and handled the job in the same way but was seen as being meaner and harder to work with.
Adichie wrote that we have evolved but our ideas on gender have not. This is most easily seen in the initial reaction of publicly stating “I am a feminist”. Some will look at you in a certain way, change their stance and tone when talking, or halt the conversation entirely. While the definition has evolved what it means at heart to be a feminist has not, like Adichie’s grandmother who was a feminist before it was defined as such.
Part of why “We Should All Be Feminists” was so successful as a TedTalk, and then as a published text, is Adichie’s way with words. Every syllable is deliberate; every sentence has a purpose. She talks about feminism being a dirty word in Nigeria, and it is as if I am there, hearing the Nigerian academic tell her that “feminism is un-African.” I feel her frustration so deeply that it becomes my own. When Adichie says “If we do something over and over, it becomes normal. If we see the same thing over and over, it becomes normal,” she describes a near-universal experience for women. Maybe we haven’t all been passed over for class monitor in favor of a boy, but we’ve all had something similar happen, and it was just as unfair.
“Gender as it functions today is a grave injustice,” Adichie says. “Of course I am angry.” I think her focus on anger is important, because too often women are told that anger is intimidating — that when they display the same emotions men are praised for, they are called aggressive, domineering, bossy. We should be angry! “Why should a woman’s success be a threat to a man?” she asks. Why indeed? Why are my triumphs seen as an attempt to overshadow my male colleagues and theirs are seen as something normal? This is, of course, because men are raised to have weak egos, Adichie says. Masculinity has become so important to them that any accomplishment by a woman is perceived to be a slight against them as men.
A final point she makes is that of guilt. Women are raised to think of ourselves as “inherently guilty.” We silence and police ourselves and feel shame for expressing our interests and emotions, because we have internalized the notion that we must. Only by directly challenging the ways in which children are raised can we combat this and overcome it, and only then can we all be feminists.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie uses her personal life, in Nigeria, throughout We Should Be Feminists to illustrate her feminist experience. Her stories allow the reader to relate to her. Starting with her childhood and moving into her adult life, Adichie offers her hopes for the world. Adichie talks about gender expectations society has for children both male and female , women and men in the workforce, and she touches on gender expectations in everyday life.
Many things stuck out to me in this short book. Her experience with the waiter in the restaurant in Nigeria was eye opening to me. She says, ” The waiters are products of a society that has taught them that men are more important than women”(Adichie,20). She follows that with her reaction, ” …I feel invisible” (Adichie, 20). This instance stuck out to me because it was such a small event, but she remembers it; it affects her today.
Adichie’s tone throughout is very light hearted but she she firmly gets her points across. She is also able too see both sides of the coin and refute her arguments well. “In a literal way, men rule the world, and this made sense a thousand years ago. Because human beings lived in a world in which physical strength was the most important attribute for survival […] we have evolved, but it seems to me that our ideas of gender have not evolved.” (Adichie, 2).
By bringing up gender roles, Adichie highlights the problems we face today in everyday life and society as a whole. By highlighting her experiences, she is allowing people to relate to her, rather than spewing facts and statistic as if she has more knowledge than the reader
This entire book reminded me of the Speech Emma Watson gave in 2014, at a United Nations HeforShe event. She touches on many of same subject as Adichie. The both shared the experience during adolescence of feeling like a their was and time in their childhoods were they had a goal but culturally, it was a males goal. Emma states in her speech, “I started questioning gender-based assumptions when at eight I was confused at being called “bossy,” because I wanted to direct the plays…but the boys were not”.
This book has impacted me a lot. I have never considered myself a feminist until now. I think this is because I have never been truly educated on the meaning of the word.
For this weeks reading, we read We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This was an argued essay where she talked about the importance of feminism, why everyone should be one, and what being a feminist means. At the start of the essay she explained how friends and coworkers would give her a hard time when she called herself a feminist, saying that it wasn’t her culture or that being a feminist meant she couldn’t like lipstick or high heels. I really related to this section of the essay because that is what I originally thought feminism was and didn’t consider myself a feminist. It wasn’t until my roommate really explained to me what being a feminist means and this essay confirmed that I am a feminist. Many of the issues that she brought up were very relatable, especially when she described how she was treated in restaurants and clubs with her friends. It is so frustrating when one goes into a restaurant on a date and doesn’t get the same respect as the other person (for me, a man) who is with you. I agreed with her on all of her points. Boys and girls do need to be raised the same, their gender shouldn’t make a difference. Their gender should also not affect how they are treated later on in life. Over the summer, I was one of three women who worked in the Brickyard. With it being my second summer, I was expected to do and know more than the first year brick makers. This was fairly easy to do because I knew everything from the year before and I overall really enjoy the job. The big thing that was frustrating was how my male coworkers treated myself and the other women who worked there. As the summer went on it was apparent that one of the guys working did not respect women very much. If we got upset or annoyed about something, he would say, “Oh, she must be on her period.” He would also say that all men were stronger than all women – there were at least three times when I proved him wrong. I would move more bricks than him, shovel more shovels of clay, I would move bigger objects more often. I felt the need to prove him wrong and made sure to prove him wrong everyday. I didn’t just do it to be entertained, but so that way other women wouldn’t need to go through his constant speech about being better than women. At the end of the summer, he respected me more and would ask my opinion on things. I felt that he genuinely respected my opinions. I overall really enjoyed this argument essay, I found myself agreeing with every point she made. I hope that more people come in contact with this essay and start to see things from this side.
This week’s reading consisted of the argued essay “We Should All Be Feminists” by Chimanmanda Ngozi Adichie. In the essay, Adichie addresses many reasons why everyone should be feminist and what being a feminist really means. The author goes through her understanding about feminism through personal and social experiences based on gender stereotypes such as men being the authoritative figure, women doing housework and cooking, and women having different expectations in the workplace. She also addresses the general stereotypes about women who are feminist that they are unhappy single woman rebelling against how women should be. The main point to take away from this essay is that being feminist means that they acknowledge that fact that there is an inequality between men and women that needs to be fixed beginning with how children are raised. As a teacher, I have the opportunity to educate children on and how to overcome stereotypes that are prominent in society today through allowing children to express their self in a safe welcoming community. Also, I have the chance to allow boys and girls to have equality in the classroom through class positions, jobs, and academics. Overall, I thought this essay was very interesting in giving a deeper understanding of feminism and would recommend this to for others to read.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book “We Should All Be Feminists” discusses the social constructs defined by gender as well as her own personal experiences as a female. This text didn’t necessarily teach me, but more so made me think about my own experiences and thoughts towards feminism. Before coming to college, I believed the negative thoughts that are commonly associated with feminists. For instance, the author used the examples you hate men, you hate bras, you think women should always be in charge, you don’t shave, etc. Those are all thoughts I had as a teenager when I heard the word “feminist.” Thankfully, college has taught me that these things are not true, and just like Chimamanda I am having to unlearn many lessons of gender I was taught growing up.
One thing that struck with me in the text was the idea of teaching children how to be fair towards gender. Over the summer I watched two children, one boy and one girl, a year apart in age. The boy was always given the outside chores (feeding the chickens, walking the dog, pulling the weeds, etc.), while the girl was always given the household chores such as doing the laundry and dishes. I always felt as though this wasn’t right, and whenever I would ask them to do something the other usually does, they would fight it. The boy even said to me once, “I don’t do household stuff like laundry. I’m a boy so I need to go outside.” Although I couldn’t fix this over one summer, I can take these lessons with me as I become a teacher. I don’t want to tell the girls in my class that they can’t be class monitors because that’s a boy’s job. It’s important to me that my future students get equal opportunities in all parts of the classroom, and that they learn from a young age that gender does not equal ability.
We Should All be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie speaks against the misconceptions of feminism that have made the idea of equality between genders into something that it is not. From the first couple pages, Adichie addresses the negative connotation that comes along with being called a feminist that I’m sure most of us have heard more often than not. Adichie also shares her personal experiences that most woman have struggled with, that many don’t realize if they’re not in a woman’s position, such as worrying about what clothes to wear to work in order to be taken seriously. Lastly, she speaks against cultural norms that are so engraved into our society, it goes unnoticed by many such as cooking being a woman’s job although we should all know how to cook regardless of gender because it’s needed to survive. The only thing I didn’t like within the book was that Adichie said that she liked “girly” clothes, makeup, etc. although that is too, a cultural idea that has been engraved into our minds as well.