Sunday, 2 July 2017

We Should All Be Feminists - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

'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.'

I picked this up, sat at the dinner table and read it. Granted, it's a TED Talk turned into an essay and in Finnish just shy of 50 pages, but I would've gladly read 50 more or even 150. The reason We Should All Be Feminists has been on my radar is that earlier this year, a copy of it was given to every 9th grader in Finland. I read the Finnish edition they were given ('Meidän kaikkien pitäisi olla feministejä'), and I think they're in good hands. This book works incredibly well as a conversation starter as well due to its short length and current message.

This essay is very personal. Adichie talks about her own experiences and doesn't make them into some sort of a universal truth that everyone should agree on, but also raises many sharp points about why, indeed, We Should All Be Feminists. She's from Nigeria and lives partly in the US herself, but even though our cultures are vastly different, her experiences still resonate with what I feel. I'm sure anyone who's a woman or doesn't hate women would agree.

I don't expect that giving this book to kids miraculously turns them into a full generation of acceptance and love, but I think if even one of them finds this book an eye-opener, it has done its work. It's a good size with reasonable sized text, and at least I found it a page-turner. If only they opened it.

I took a look yesterday into how that was taken in Finland, and some of it was pretty appalling. Middle-aged men calling out on Twitter how, direct quote: "Political propaganda is being forced upon our youth."  Really. If you think that equality of genders is dangerous propaganda, you should go back to the 1500s where you clearly belong. Also, it was very clear that no one who criticised this book had ever even touched it. It's horrible how just saying 'I'm a feminist' gets this sort of a reaction from people, and that's something Adichie talks about as well: how the word itself has become incredibly loaded and makes people imagine that you hate men, among many other things. 

If these people actually read the book, they would know feminism is not the opposite of misogynism, but the actual plea for equality of genders. And they might disagree with some of the things in this book, but at least they would know what they were talking about. Of course, if people were willing to educate themselves and admit to being wrong, this would be all too easy.

You can find the TED Talk here in its entirety and if you've not read this or watched it, well, I definitely recommend it. I wish everyone would, and then maybe we would have a slightly better world. 

'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.'

For the Helmet 2017 reading challenge I put this in category 4: A book inspiring wellness and wellbeing.

No comments:

Post a Comment