Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is back again with a short feminist manifesto written as a loving letter to her niece. An old friend asked Chimamanda to give advice on how to raise her daughter as a feminist. In response to that, she wrote a letter of 15 suggestions, which was eventually turned into a book.
This book was a real eye opener for me, but it also challenged a few of my personal beliefs. I wouldn’t call myself a feminist because I don’t feel qualified or educated enough on the topic to be a feminist. I feel like people call themselves “feminists” without understanding the theology behind it. Female empowerment and gender equality are important to me and for that reason, I continue to read books such as this one.
Chimamanda is a prolific writer so there’s no question that this book is a good read. I will highlight a few of the suggestions that she gave that I loved and those that challenged me.
Chimamanda is refuting this idea that women should prioritize motherhood over everything. She says that a woman should not apologize for working or having a job. Do not settle for the idea that a traditional mother should stay at home and raise the children. Your child will benefit more from seeing her mother be someone who works and takes care of her household responsibilities. She also says that there is no such thing as a superwoman because the idea of a woman who can do it all is derived from the assumption that caregiving is solely a woman’s responsibility. Parenting should be gender neutral.
She also states that gender roles are nonsense and you should never tell your daughters what they can or cannot do because of their gender. As someone who is still learning how to cook, I loved this suggestion. These gender roles are ingrained in us from birth through things like gender-related colors and toys. She also pointed out that we raise girls to aspire to marry as if marriage is a prize which leads to the pressure to become a woman worthy of being married.
I almost started clapping when I read this!
Suggestions that challenged me:
Chimamanda makes a distinction between feminism and what she calls Feminist Lite. She says that a feminist-lite uses analogies like “He is the head and you are the neck”. It is this idea that men are naturally superior but should be expected to treat women well. It also adheres to this idea that a man allows a woman to do things. Using the word ‘allow’ is about power and a woman should not have to ask permission to do anything in an equal marriage.
I want to co-sign on this so badly, but there’s that voice in the back of my head reminding me that according to the Bible, God created women to be “helpers”. This does not mean that women are inferior or have a less important role, but it does give men authority. This is why I hesitate to label myself a feminist because of the idea that men and women are completely equal conflicts with what I have been taught.
Despite my reservations on some of her work, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I recommend you check it out.