13 quotes from Chimamanda's We Should All Be Feminists
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's We Should All Be Feminists has become a feminist staple and is very well known on an international scale, thanks to her status as a bestselling author and Beyonce's sampling of her words on her song ***Flawless in 2014.
Though published in 2014 after receiving widespread acclaim, the book is an adaptation of a Ted Talk Adichie gave in 2012.
The book's words are still relevant today. As a society, we still have a long way to go in terms of the treatment of women, especially in Nigeria.
Here are 13 of my favorite quotes:
1. 'Culture does not make people, people make culture. If it is true that the full humanity of women is not our culture, then we must make it our culture.'
2. 'The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognising how we are.'
3. 'What if when raising children, we focused on interest instead of gender?'
4. 'I am trying to unlearn many lessons of gender I internalised while growing up. But I sometimes feel vulnerable in the face of gender expectations.'
5. 'Gender as it functions today is a grave injustice. I am angry. We all should be angry. Anger has a long history of bringing about positive change.'
6. 'If we do something over and over, it becomes normal, If we see the same thing over and over, it becomes normal.'
7. 'The harder a man feels compelled to be, the more fragile his ego is.'
8. 'I have chosen to no longer be apologetic for my femininity. And I want to be respected.'
9. 'We police girls. We praise girls for virginity but we don't praise boys for virginity'
10. 'And so girls grow up to be women who cannot say they have desire. Who silence themselves. Who cannot say what they truly want. Who have turned pretence into an art form.'
11. 'Nigerians have been raised to think of women as inherently guilty.'
12. 'The language of marriage is often a language of ownership, not a language of partnership.'
13. '...a feminist is a man or woman who says, yes, there is 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.'
Many people seem to have an issue with the word feminist. Both women and men reject the term, as if it were an infectious disease to be cured from, to be discouraged in others. Chimamanda makes a great case of why people should be less weary of the term. There is a problem with how gender functions today, and if you accept that and are willing to help change it, you are a feminist.
And it's not just about calling yourself a feminist, it's about challenging limited perceptions of womanhood in conversations where it could be brushed aside. Wherever you are, speak up about that backhanded comment, that condescending tone, that sign of disrespect. Whether you are male or female, you can challenge people to think differently. You don't necessarily have to go to a million protest marches or sign endless petitions as if to prove it.
While these actions are important and absolutely necessary, it's a waste if you perpetuate the negative treatment of women, after you participate in such things. What's most important is the change you effect in your day to day life, especially when the buzz has died down; when it's not fashionable. Feminism is so much more than a label, it's a human cause worth defending. We can all do our part.