The idea of feminism should not come as a shock to anyone. If it does, we are doing a bad job of raising our children. In a patriarchal world that is slowly shifting towards the idea of having equality for both genders, there is still a layer that thinks women cross the line when they boldly ask for what they want. There are still those people who cry foul when women who have undergone the unthinkable speak out.
We Should All Be Feminists is the transcript of a TEDx talk by Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in 2012. While you can finish the book in under an hour (even lesser if you’re a fast reader), what Adichie outlines in this essay will remain with you for the rest of your life. There is nothing ‘finished’ about it.
It is true that women have had to sacrifice a lot. Not only that, they have also been made to sacrifice a lot over the centuries. So when we finally find a voice and demand what should have been equality, we are faced with “we faced problems too” and “how dare you”s instead of the support we need.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, in this compelling, thought-provoking book, explains beautifully the true meaning of feminism. Contrary to what millions feel about the word, ‘feminist’ taking a negative weight, it is a concept that will bring peace and joy all round if embraced, irrespective of gender, religion, and nationality.
Adichie gives examples of little things that show how men are given more priority over women. If this figurative muscle power that masculinity wields over the world becomes permanent, then how can we ensure equality? How can we be sure to be feminists and not the despicable term ‘feminazi’ that has been coined for pseudo-feminists?
Reading We Should All Be Feminists is a sucker punch to the gut. Even if you are female, there are some things you happen to take for granted. And as you read this slim book, you realize so much more than you bargained for in the first place. ‘Oh shit! That’s true!’ would be a common reaction.
The recent ‘MeToo’ hashtag storm that invaded the Internet is a prime example of how so many people hate the word ‘feminism’ and anything associated with it. I wrote a blog post, incensed at the aforementioned, which you can read here: Why is #MeToo Being Branded As Anti-Men? But way before I went on this rant, Adichie broached the subject and gave a perfect answer, which goes:
Some people ask: ‘Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?’ Because that would be… a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women.
Adichie has the perfect answer to anyone refuting the above, if they happen to do so. In her definition so far, feminism tackles women’s problems. But it has not ended yet. She is absolutely fair when she comes to how men are treated in today’s world. How unfairness targets everybody. How expectations have the power to ruin everything.
By far, the worst thing we do to males – by making them feel they have to be hard – is that we leave them with very fragile egos. The harder a man feels compelled to be, the weaker his ego is.
If this doesn’t ring true with every invisible nerve that the world thrums with, I don’t know what else does.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists is far from being preachy. Her calm reasoning, well-balanced observations, and eloquent narrative makes your whole being taut with anger – anger that fighting for the right thing is deemed selfish, anger that acknowledging the problems faced by women is termed weakness, and anger that gender inequality is considered normal and rational, even in today’s world.
To wrap it up, here is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s amazing definition of feminism. One that is so deeply true that it is difficult not to brace yourself for a battle that you suddenly want to fight. She says:
My own definition is a feminist is a man or a woman who says, yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better. All of us, women and men, must do better.
And that’s that!
It’s not my place to rate such an intense, truthful legend of a book. Yet, here’s what it deserves from every angle, every corner.
Rating: 5/5 stars
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Picture Courtesy: Amazon UK