Reading #1 – Dear Ijeawele

I really like the ideas that Adichie poses to her friend in this (my paraphrased list of them is below). All of them make sense to me in raising a daughter to be feminist, and quite a few if not all of them require the unlearning of biases that our mothers instilled in us – on purpose or not. It’s also interesting how many of these my mother did with me when I was a child, to then reverse course as I got older and wonder why I, for example, didn’t think about marriage as something that I wanted or something I thought I needed. I want to get married now only because I found someone that I could actually see myself marrying. Number 10 gives me some pause, but only because there is a way to take that too far – if you never teach your child that they are beautiful/handsome/insert adjective here, that opens them up to self-esteem issues as they grow up that can be worse than they would be in puberty regardless of what you tell the child growing up.

List of the suggestions

  1. be a full person
  2. do it together
  3. gender roles are nonsense
  4. beware idea of conditional feminism
  5. teach to love books/reading
  6. teach to question language
  7. never speak of marriage as achievement
  8. teach to reject likeability
  9. give sense of identity
  10. be deliberate in how you engage with appearance
  11. teach to question selective use of biology as reasons for social norms
  12. talk about sex and start early
  13. “Romance will happen, so be on board”
  14. do not turn the oppressed into saints
  15. teach about difference – make it ordinary and normal

Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. Dear Ijeawele, or, A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions. New York, NY: Anchor Books, 2018.

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