We Should All Be Feminists is a slightly modified transcript of a TED talk that Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave in 2013 (watch it here) and is a book I see mentioned on Bookstagram all the time. People love it; for good reason I’ve now discovered.
I’ve been wanting to read this for a while as I couldn’t agree with the title more. We should all be feminists. Feminism is the belief that women should be socially, politically and economically equal to men. I mean, in 2019, that should go without saying, right? Sadly, history, society expectations and gender roles mean that often this still isn’t the case and this is what Chimamanda discusses in this essay: Why that is and why that needs to change. I could quote the whole essay here as it’s all so powerful and to the point, but I particularly liked when she brought up this:
“Imagine how much happier we would be, how much freer to our true individual selves, if we didn’t have the weight of gender expectations.”
She also eloquently raises the point that feminism is just as much about men as it is women: The way men see women and the way they see themselves has a huge impact. Last year, I read Robert Webb’s memoir, How Not to be a Boy and that really got me thinking about gender roles and how damaging and restrictive they can be – for both women and men. This interests me as I have two sons and feel very passionately about raising boys that don’t feel the need to adhere to masculine stereotypes and certainly view women as equal to them in every way. I think I’ll take some advice from Chimamanda,
“What if, in raising children, we focus on ability instead of gender? What if we focus on interest instead of gender?”
We Should All Be Feminists was published in 2014, so as I was reading I was reflecting that some of what Chimamanda wants in regards to women’s rights has started to become an open conversation – the Me Too movement and compulsory reports on the gender pay gap – in the last few years. In an interview with The Guardian from April 2018, Chimamanda says about Me Too, “It’s either the beginning of a revolution, or it is going to be a fad. We just don’t know … I do see in women a sense that ‘We’re done, this is it … No.’ and it gives me hope.”
I happened to read We Should All Be Feminists straight after Vox by Cristina Dalcher, a dystopian story that imagines an America where it was decided women needed to be put in their place and are limited to speaking 100 words per day – any more and they get electric shocks. This is a terrifying, hyperbolic vision of a society that regresses women, so they have no say and really highlights the importance of ensuring women – in the real world, not in a story – ALWAYS have a voice and are treated like equals, in every society.
We Should All Be Feminists is such an eloquent and intelligent essay that tackles an important subject in a humorous and relatable way. You should all read this book.