“We Should All Be Feminists” is a personal, witty and eloquently worded book from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun and Americanah.
Adichie had made a fan out of me when I read Purple Hibiscus. Then i read Half of a Yellow Sun and Americannah. She wowed me with her very descriptive and observant mind.
Reading Americannah was when i started getting the full grasp of how very observant and eloquent she really is – little things that I do but don’t take note of, she draws readers’ attention to them and phrases them so aptly, I have to pause, put the book down and take a few seconds to be awed at her analytic mind and how relatable the situation is to me.
Years of reading James Hadley Chase, American mystery, crime, and detective novels, I could never relate to these stories. They were interesting but that’s where it ended.
Other African Authors I had read like Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Buchi Emecheta and Flora Nwapa were too literary. While I enjoyed them, the plots were set in times, long before I was born, like an abstract distant good ole days.
Chimamanda was different. She was relatable. She talked about days I could understand, experiences I know, things I’ve seen and situations I can relate to. A twenty-first-century narrative. My experiences worded in a book!
When I read some really insightful quotes from Chimamanda’s much-acclaimed 2012 TEDx Talk adapted into the book “We Should All Be Feminists”, they resonated with me and I knew I absolutely had to read this book. So I ordered it online. The first book I ever ordered online!
When it arrived, I was quite disappointed at the size, a tiny little book, (reminding me of my childhood ladybird picture books)…but I have come to love the book. For its content, and its size.
Anyway, I got right to it and Chimamanda did not disappoint. As usual!
While you might be expecting to be regaled with some boring literary jargons of what feminism is about (that’s what I expected), the book puts you at ease immediately. Nope! You are not getting a lecture.
Do you want to know what feminism is?
In fact, there is no worded “definition” of feminism or why you should be a feminist but with one tale after the other Chimamanda eloquently and sometimes humorously draws extensively from her experiences—in the U.S and in Nigeria, showing rather than explaining why the gender divide is harmful to both women and men, alike.
It’s a great introduction to feminism and how sexism can go unnoticed.
She doesn’t seek to persuade you to agree, and she really doesn’t need to because her stories speak for themselves.
Offering a unique definition of what feminism is NOT, with realities, one only someone who has lived it can tell. Laid out in the same incredibly observant and clever prose that has made her an international bestselling novelist. With simple stories, Adichie shows institutional behaviors that marginalize women.
Yes, I grew up in a Nigeria where a boy has to be class monitor and not a girl, even at the university, the position of “Student Union Government President” was always contested by a man. I never questioned it, I don’t know anyone who ever did, it’s how we met the system and its how we left it. Unquestioning. Accepting. Our reality.
The realization made me sad. It made me realize how much I must unlearn. The instilled bias against myself which I must take note of and correct.
Story after story and I was living them all. I knew what Adichie was talking about, she was talking about my life, just as much as it was about hers too.
The realization gave way to wonder, and I marveled at the fact that she picked up on these things even as a child. Things that we have been conditioned to view as the norm. I was awed at her ability to think outside the box we have been placed in as women. Inspired by her courage to even venture out of that box. And I felt ashamed that I lived these realities and I didn’t even notice.
This book woke me up from the unconsciousness without even trying and it made a case for both women and men. Making me subscribe to the believe that We should all be feminists. It favours us all.
I think everybody should read it, maybe it would stir or awaken some unconsciousness you didn’t know about. Like it did to me.
FUN FACT: In 2015, the country of Sweden bought a copy of “We Should All Be Feminists” for every 16 year old in the country and encouraged them to read it.