Thoughts on We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This little pocket-sized book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was written as a modified version of one of her TED talks, delivered with the intent of conveying what the word feminism means to her, and how it has shaped her life as a successful, Nigerian raised female. You may recognize many of her words as the overlaid speech in Beyonce’s Flawless.
On Page 36, the Adichie includes a short anecdote from her life; a family friend has a young son and a daughter, both the same age and in school. But, “ “when the boy is hungry, the parents say to the girl, ‘Go and cook Indomie noodles for your brother,’”” even though the girl is not hungry and does not like to cook. She goes on to touch on the fact that cooking is a useful, practical, and fundamental skill that everyone should have, not just the sister in this situation.
Maybe its because I have two sisters and therefore a female dominated household, or simply the time and place where I grew up, but I could never imagine myself in a situation where I was asked to provide for someone else with no benefit to myself. Yes, if my mom asked me to do the laundry, or drive something to my sister at her apartment because she doesn’t have a car, I would, because that is how a family works. But to cook solely for my sister on an average day when she is fully capable? That makes no sense to me.
Adichie goes on to mention that it is often engineered into boys minds that they are meant to provide for themselves, their wives, their families. However are they really providing if they cannot even do basic things for themselves like laundry, cooking, or caring for their own kids? If they rely on a wife to do all of this is it not their spouse who is taking care of and providing for them? To ‘take care of’ seems to be rooted in our minds as making money and being able to support someone financially. But that is not what it is at all. I am a big supporter of self sufficiency.
This is not to say we shouldn’t look to other people for support and help because that is not true. We are put in communities to share our talents and help each other. However, I don’t think we should rely fully on other people.
There may come a time when people in your life are not there, whether mentally or physically, and you are left to your own devices. In this situation an individual, whether male, female, or somewhere in between, as their own smart, capable, and able human being, must be able to take care of themselves, whether this be cleaning the house, bringing in an income, or nourishing themselves. These important aspects of self-sustenance should never be, “left in the hands of others” (pg 37).
Page 41 goes on to ask, “ ‘Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights…” This same idea ties into people who support the idea of “All Lives Matter” over “Black Lives Matter.”
Yes, all humans have and deserve rights. And yes, all lives, whether black, white, or purple, matter. But the reason why certain groups like females and black people are being highlighted in these campaigns for change is because through history and even the present, they are not being treated as such. To put “human rights” over female rights when for all of history males have been treated as superior is to turn a blind eye to the problem and pretend as if there is no disparity between the sexes (or races).
So here is my challenge, akin with the overall message delivered by Adichi: Parents need to teach their kids, sons and daughters alike, not to follow specific practices meant for the ultimate goal of supporting a spouse. Rather, teach them all the same skills which are needed to support themselves as a human being. In doing so, they will inherently have everything they need when and if that day comes that they need to care for another person, and a family.
“Culture does not make people. People make culture. If it is true that the full humanity of women is not our culture, then we can and must make it our culture.”
“All of us women and men, must do better.”