As I mentioned in last week’s Review Tuesday, I’m on a bit of a speech kick currently. I picked up a copy of We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at the San Francisco airport when my plane was delayed for 8 hours coming home from my first business trip because I had been hearing some good things about it.
We Should All be Feminists is based off the speech that Adichie gave in 2012 at TEDxEuston, a yearly conference focused on Africa. I will admit that I haven’t actually watched the speech yet, but it is on my list of things to do.
I have only read the speech once, and I do believe that this is something that needs to be read a couple of time because there is just so much content in it, as well as so many good points.
One of the points she makes is why the word “feminist”?
“‘Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights or something like that?’ Because [Adichie says] that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general – but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It 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 don’t think I’ve ever heard feminism defined so elegantly before. Feminism growing up for me was defined by 10 Things I Hate About You where Kat, the shrew, embodied feminism has an angry white privileged female. (Don’t get me wrong I loved the move, but not for it’s representation of feminism).
The speech also talks about how society and parents teach their daughters shame – “close your legs, cover up” etc and we teach men “that having no self-control is somehow acceptable.” Society teaches women that they can’t appear angry, bitter, or aggressive because men won’t like that. And being LIKED is something that women should strive for. And of course marriage must be achieved otherwise there’s something wrong with you.
Another point of hers is that women are taught things or allowed to do things (or not) based on gender. But, and this is a point that I really loved is “What if, in raising children, we focus on ability instead of gender? What if we focus on interest instead of gender.
That last point seems so basic and obvious. But for most of the world it isn’t. This is why this discussion has to continue. This is why HeForShe is so important.
This blog post is certainly not going to do this speech justice. Read the speech or watch the Ted Talk and then talk about it with everyone that you know. It’s important – I would go so far as to say imperative. We should all be feminists.