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We Should All Be Feminists

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A personal and powerful essay from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the bestselling author of ‘Americanah’ and ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’, based on her 2013 TEDx Talk of the same name.

What does “feminism” mean today? That is the question at the heart of We Should All Be Feminists, a personal, eloquently-argued essay – adapted from her much-viewed Tedx talk of the same name – by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the award-winning author of ‘Americanah’ and ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’. With humour and levity, here Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century – one rooted in inclusion and awareness. She shines a light not only on blatant discrimination, but also the more insidious, institutional behaviours that marginalise women around the world, in order to help readers of all walks of life better understand the often masked realities of sexual politics. Throughout, she draws extensively on her own experiences – in the U.S., in her native Nigeria – offering an artfully nuanced explanation of why the gender divide is harmful for women and men, alike. Argued in the same observant, witty and clever prose that has made Adichie a best-selling novelist, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman today – and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.

52 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2012

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About the author

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

123 books39.2k followers
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie grew up in Nigeria.

Her work has been translated into over thirty languages and has appeared in various publications, including The New Yorker, Granta, The O. Henry Prize Stories, the Financial Times, and Zoetrope. She is the author of the novels Purple Hibiscus, which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award; Half of a Yellow Sun, which won the Orange Prize and was a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist and a New York Times Notable Book; and Americanah, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was named one of The New York Times Top Ten Best Books of 2013. Ms. Adichie is also the author of the story collection The Thing Around Your Neck.

Ms. Adichie has been invited to speak around the world. Her 2009 TED Talk, The Danger of A Single Story, is now one of the most-viewed TED Talks of all time. Her 2012 talk We Should All Be Feminists has a started a worldwide conversation about feminism, and was published as a book in 2014.

Her most recent book, Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, was published in March 2017.

A recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, Ms. Adichie divides her time between the United States and Nigeria.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 26,486 reviews
Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,113 reviews44.4k followers
January 21, 2023
This is the single most convincing essay I’ve ever read on feminism. It does not point fingers and blame men for a cultural mind-set they were born into. Instead, it offers calm logical arguments for positive change going forward. And that’s what the world needs:

“A world of happier men and happier women who are truer to themselves. And this is how to start: We must raise our daughters differently. We must also raise our sons differently.”

Adichie states that the strongest feminist she ever knew was a man, and that’s kind of important. This is an essay about building bridges; it appeals directly to men and asks them to look at the world differently: it ask them to look at their actions, ones which were harmless and indirect, but were nevertheless sexist: it tries to make them open their eyes.

“The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are. Imagine how much happier we would be, how much freer to be our true individual selves, if we didn’t have the weight of gender expectations.”

“I am trying to unlearn many lessons of gender I internalized while growing up. But I sometimes still feel vulnerable in the face of gender expectations.”


Gender is the key. Adichie gives an example of how when she first became a teacher she wore male orientated clothing on her first day. She wore a suit so the students would take her more seriously rather than just dressing in a way that made her comfortable. She sacrificed her individuality because of gender expectations. In order to be more authoritative she dressed like a man because a woman would not have had as much respect in such a situation. And that’s truly sad.

The same is true for men who feel unable to express their emotions because such a thing is considered weak and unmanly. We all have the capacity to feel and the fact that fiery emotions are considered a feminine trait is just, well, odd. But that’s the world we live in. Adichie proposes that we ignore such stupid labels and be whoever we wish to be: we are ourselves.

There’s so much negative stigma attached to the word feminist. This book is the true face of modern feminism, read it and you will not be able to fault its logic.

We should all be feminists after.

You can connect with me on social media via My Linktree.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,962 reviews293k followers
March 21, 2016
Not long ago, I wrote an article about being young and female in Lagos. And an acquaintance told me that it was an angry article, and I should not have made it so angry. But I was unapologetic. Of course it was angry. Gender as it functions today is a grave injustice. I am angry. We should all be angry.

A short, sharp, and effective essay about gender, the wrong ideas many people have about feminism, and why it is so damn important. Even today.

I suppose an "essay" doesn't sound like something most people want to rush out and read. It sounds like a chore, like hard work, like something that you should maybe read... someday... if you ever get around to it. But this doesn't feel like an essay at all. The author delivers a compelling and deeply personal account of her experiences and the experiences of her friends - male and female, young and old, Nigerian and American.

She makes many fantastic points and makes them in a conversational tone, without seeming preachy or patronizing. Looking at the way we treat women and men, and how the expectations we have of both genders is contributing to a gender divide, the author makes an argument for a better future where we are not put into gendered boxes.
We stifle the humanity of boys. We define masculinity in a very narrow way. Masculinity is a hard, small cage, and we put boys inside this cage.

I've actually written a little about this in the past, but I especially like the way she draws attention to the importance of the word itself. Many people are quick to say: "I absolutely believe men and women should be equal, but why call it feminism? Isn't that word exclusive? Why not say humanism (as many people do)?" Even I've been guilty of wondering the same in the past.

I think there are many great arguments for why it should be "feminism" and not just "humanism", "black lives matter" and not just "all lives matter", "gay pride" and not just "sexual pride", but I'll let Adichie do the talking on that issue. She summarizes it marvelously.

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Profile Image for Riley.
427 reviews21.1k followers
August 22, 2016
This should be required reading
Profile Image for Kai Spellmeier.
Author 6 books13.6k followers
November 16, 2020
I’m tired of feminists picking on the weakest, turning into bullies, using their platform to harm someone who is already vulnerable. At this stage, your feminism is as good as worthless if it doesn’t include trans women. This essay is hailed as an introduction to feminism, but honestly, go pick another book. Don’t build your feminism on hate and ignorance.

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Profile Image for Zoë.
328 reviews66.2k followers
September 10, 2018
A short, insightful essay about a topic I am incredibly passionate about: feminism. I was practically nodding my head the entire time as so much of what was brought forth hit home.
However, I had a few issues with heteronormative and cisnormative language. I don't believe she was being intentionally exclusionary, so I'm interested to read her newest feminist essay in the near future!
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,655 reviews5,130 followers
October 9, 2021
EDIT: Because I have so many people constantly arguing that I'm in the wrong for being concerned about this author's intentions, I did some Googling, and found out that this author publicly supported JKR's anti-trans essay. Adichie also continues (at the time I'm editing this) to stand her ground on her opinion that trans women do not deserve the same support as cis women. If you can read the article I just linked, read this review, and read this essay, and still think Adichie is an inclusive feminist, I don't know how to help you see otherwise.

You can also read here about how Adichie demanded that her name be pulled off of Akwaeke Emezi's works after Emezi called her out for her transphobia — this is not an isolated incident.

Nobody could be more disappointed or shocked than me.

We Should All Be Feminists does a lot of things right. It's a quick, easy read that offers some great insight into the basic gist of why feminism is important.

That said, this novella has a lot of problems, with the worst of those being heteronormativity and trans-erasure. Adichie goes to great lengths to completely ignore the mere existence of queer and/or trans individuals, with endless gendered language and assumptions. She revisits the "women are biologically inferior" argument many times (which she is essentially in favor of - yikes). She literally even says at one point that she wondered while writing this if women have specific genes to improve their domestic capabilities, like cooking. I've face-palmed so many times in the last twenty minutes.

I wish I was exaggerating, but this entire novella left me speechless. I'm genuinely not sure why it's being lauded as some flawless piece of feminist work, when it is riddled with issues from start to finish. I thought I would have a new favorite author, and instead, I'm just pissed off.

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Profile Image for Lisa of Troy.
401 reviews3,489 followers
March 7, 2023
We Should All Be Feminists is a very short non-fiction book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about how all of us should do better to ensure that there is equality of gender.

This book hit on some very important topics. Even today, society expects that men and women will conform to gender norms. The author talks about “We teach boys to be afraid of fear, of weakness, of vulnerability.” When was the last time that you saw a male openly crying? For women, they are taught that they need to conform to the rules, raise their hands, to not be angry. The author mentions that women have a double-standard where a female who was recently promoted disciplined someone who forged a timecard. The woman was labeled as aggressive and difficult to work with.

The author also mentioned how women make up 52% of the population and yet don’t make up even 50% of the positions of power. The author also mentioned, “Many men do not actively think about gender or notice gender. That many men say, like my friend Louis did, that things might have been bad in the past but everything is fine now.”

For additional reading, see White Feminism by Koa Beck and Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo.

2022 Reading Schedule
Jan Animal Farm
Feb Lord of the Flies
Mar The Da Vinci Code
Apr Of Mice and Men
May Memoirs of a Geisha
Jun Little Women
Jul The Lovely Bones
Aug Charlotte's Web
Sep Life of Pi
Oct Dracula
Nov Gone with the Wind
Dec The Secret Garden

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Profile Image for Jack Edwards.
Author 1 book191k followers
January 12, 2019
A fantastic overview of why we should all DEFINITELY be feminists, and a simplified, easy to understand explanation which is more than necessary in a world where *some* people continue to disregard feminism as man-hating or irrelevant. I definitely think that some points are a little vague and somewhat unsubstantiated, albeit recognising that this is for the sake of being concise and to the point. I'd love for everyone to read this at some point... in a world of Piers Morgans we need more Chimamanda Ngozi Adichies.
Profile Image for NickReads.
461 reviews1,199 followers
May 24, 2020
Without confronting men's sense of entitlement, we cannot understand the resistance to gender equality
Profile Image for Dr. Appu Sasidharan (Dasfill).
1,135 reviews2,165 followers
January 30, 2023

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie explains her understanding of feminism in this essay. It is a modified version of her TEDx talk in 2012. She uses simple language in describing complex problems that women are facing in our society today with the help of a few examples from her own life.

What I learned from this book
1) What is the Chimamanda Adichie’s definition of feminism?
The meaning of the word feminism, according to the Oxford dictionary, is - " the belief and aim that women should have the same rights and opportunities as men; the struggle to achieve this aim" . The author gives a much more practical definition of it in this book.
"My own definition of 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."

2) What is the most common misconception about feminists today in our society?
The author discusses the problems with people's perception of the word feminism. The most common misconception about feminists is -
"Feminists are women who are unhappy because they cannot find husbands."

3) What is the relationship between feminism and culture?
This is a very relevant discussion that the author is trying to have in this essay as different cultures see feminism differently.
"An academic, a Nigerian woman, told me that feminism was not our culture, that feminism was un-African, and I was only calling myself a feminist because I had been influenced by Western books. (Which amused me, because much of my early reading was decidedly unfeminist).

Anyway, since feminism was un-African, I decided I would now call myself a Happy African Feminist. Then a dear friend told me that calling myself a feminist meant that I hated men. So I decided I would now be a Happy African Feminist Who Does Not Hate Men. At some point I was a Happy African Feminist Who Does Not Hate Men And Who Likes To Wear Lip Gloss And High Heels For Herself And Not For Men."

4) Sexism and feminism.
Was sexism the reason for the origin of feminism? The author is trying to discuss how sexism and preference for males over females resulted in forming an attitude favorable to the males in our society. She describes it by saying how her teacher selected a male student over her as the most eligible person to become the class monitor in this book.
"But I was female and he was male and he became class monitor. I have never forgotten that incident.
If we do something over and over again, it becomes normal. If we see the same thing over and over again, it becomes normal. If only boys are made class monitor, then at some point we will all think, even if unconsciously, that the class monitor has to be a boy. If we keep seeing only men as heads of corporations, it starts to seem 'natural' that only men should be heads of corporations."

5) Understanding feminist economics.
Feminist economics can be defined as the critical study of economics and economies, with a focus on gender-aware and inclusive economic inquiry and policy analysis.

In this essay, we can see how people in Nigeria have a preformed notion that the male is the sole breadwinner of the family.
"Louis looked at me, surprised, and asked, 'Why is he thanking me? I didn't give him the money.' Then I saw realization dawn on Louis's face. The man believed that whatever money I had ultimately came from Louis. Because Louis is a man."

6) Feminism and social hierarchy.
Here the author uses the words of Wangari Maathai to tell us the problems of not having women at the best jobs in our society.
"The late Kenyan Nobel peace laureate Wangari Maathai put it simply and well when she said, 'The higher you go, the fewer women there are.'"

7) What is Lilly Ledbetter law?
This is a law passed on 2009 which gives protection for the workers against pay discrimination. According to this law, discrimination based on age, religion, national origin, race, sex, and disability will "accrue" every time the employee receives a paycheck that is deemed discriminatory.
"In the recent US elections, we kept hearing of the Lilly Ledbetter law, and if we go beyond that nicely alliterative name, it was really about this: in the US, a man and a woman are doing the same job, with the same qualifications, and the man is paid more because he is a man."

8) How should a restaurant waiter behave to a woman?
Different cultures behave toward women in different manners. Here the author tells how the waiters in Nigeria avoid women customers while never forgetting to greet the men coming with them. The waiters who should be considering both in an equal manner are causing a lot of pain to the women.
"Each time I walk into a Nigerian restaurant with a man, the waiter greets the man and ignores me. The waiters are products of a society that has taught them that men are more important than women, and I know that they don't intend harm, but it is one thing to know something intellectually and quite another to feel it emotionally. Each time they ignore me, I feel invisible. I feel upset. I want to tell them that I am just as human as the man, just as worthy of acknowledgment. These are little things, but sometimes it is the little things that sting the most."

9) What do you mean by a 'woman's touch' to the job?
Here the author tells us how women are ridiculed for the same work for which the men were praised earlier. People are asking for a 'woman's touch' to the job. This is one of the worst manners to treat a woman. If men are praised for a job, women should be equally praised for the same job. It is the people's problem if they expect something different from a woman and not her's.
“One said they had expected that she would bring a ‘woman’s touch’ to her job, but she hadn’t.”

10) What is the problem when some women are investing their effort in 'being liked'?
This is another problem women are facing now. It has become complicated for a woman to say a firm no as people will start disliking her. The author says that if women try to become likable in all situations, they will land up in deeper troubles.
"What struck me – with her and with many other female American friends I have – is how invested they are in being 'liked'. How they have been raised to believe that their being 'likable' is very important and that this 'likable' trait is a specific thing. And that specific thing does not include showing anger or being aggressive or disagreeing too loudly."

11) What is the best way to prevent gender discrimination?
One of the most important reasons for the current gender discrimination is the manner in which they were raised when they were children. If we change how we parent our children, we can easily change the gender discrimination in our society.
"A world of happier men and happier women who are truer to themselves. And this is how to start: we must raise our daughters differently. We must also raise our sons differently.

What if, in raising children, we focus on ability instead of gender? What if we focus on interest instead of gender?

12) What is the danger of proving masculinity by material means?
In some cultures, males are always expected to pay the bills. This pressure to perform and pay the money to prove their masculinity has caused a lot of trouble for the males. The author tells us the importance of changing this habit.
"What if both boys and girls were raised not to link masculinity and money? What if their attitude was not 'the boy has to pay', but rather, 'whoever has more should pay'? Of course, because of their historical advantage, it is mostly men who will have more today. But if we start raising children differently, then in fifty years, in a hundred years, boys will no longer have the pressure of proving their masculinity by material means."

13) Why are some 21st century men feeling emasculated by women?
Some men can't tolerate the success of women. It is a pity to see them feeling emasculated when they obey the orders of their senior women officer or Boss.
"We say to girls, 'You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful but
not too successful, otherwise you will threaten the man. If you are the breadwinner in your relationship with a man, pretend that you are not, especially in public, otherwise you will emasculate him.'

What if we decide to simply dispose of that word – and I don't know if there is an English word I dislike more than this – emasculation."

14) Why is society giving too much importance to the wedding ring worn by women?
Here the author tells us why even some unmarried women wear a wedding ring to conferences to get respect from their colleagues.
"The sadness in this is that a wedding ring will indeed automatically make her seem worthy of respect, while not wearing a wedding ring would make her easily dismissible – and this is in a modern workplace."

15) What is the ideal age for a woman to get married?
There is no ideal age for a woman to get married. From a Medical point of view, it is true that the risk of Down syndrome is very high in women who become pregnant after the age of 35. But that doesn't give us any license to order a woman to marry before a certain age.

Who gave the license to some useless people to have a judgemental view of women who are not married after a certain age? It is an individual's choice to decide whether to marry and when to marry, and we should learn to respect their personal decision.
"Our society teaches a woman at a certain age who is unmarried to see it as a deep personal failure. While a man at a certain age who is unmarried has not quite come around to making his pick."

16) What do you mean by the term good-wife material?
This is one of the biggest dangers of raising a daughter seeing just her marriage in the future. It is the method of making her likable to the husband and the family she will marry.
"I know a woman who hates domestic work, but she pretends that she likes it, because she has been taught that to be 'good wife material', she has to be – to use that Nigerian word – homely. And then she got married. And her husband's family began to complain that she had changed. Actually, she had not changed. She just got tired of pretending to be what she was not."

17) Why are women doing more cooking in the family compared to men?
This is one of the biggest problems that almost all families in the world face today. In the earlier hunter-gatherer society, men were the hunter (due to their extra physical strength), and women used to cook food. But it is absurd to continue this practice even now when both men and women have an equal role in the family.
“Take cooking, for example. Today, women in general are more likely to do housework than men – cooking and cleaning. But why is that? Is it because women are born with a cooking gene or because over the years they have been socialized to see cooking as their role? I was going to say that perhaps women are born with a cooking gene until I remembered that the majority of famous cooks in the world – who are given the fancy title of 'chef' – are men."

18) Why are we using the term feminism instead of humanism or egalitarianism if equality irrespective of gender is our ultimate aim?
This is the most important question that feminists will have to answer multiple times in their life. The author is replying to it in the best possible manner. Feminism doesn't just mean equality between all genders; it primarily seeks to return to women everything they were denied for generations. This is why it's called feminism and not egalitarianism.
“ 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. That the problem was not about being human, but specifically about being a female human. For centuries, the world divided human beings into two groups and then proceeded to exclude and oppress one group. It is only fair that the solution to the problem should acknowledge that.”

My favourite three lines from this book
“Some men feel threatened by the idea of feminism. This comes, I think, from the insecurity triggered by how boys are brought up, how their sense of self-worth is diminished if they are not 'naturally' in charge as men"

“We have evolved. But our ideas of gender have not evolved very much.”

“The language of marriage is often a language of ownership, not a language of partnership.”

What could have been better?
This is the only book I have read in all three formats in my life so far (I read the physical book, ebook, and audiobook versions of it). After multiple readings, I still wondered why the author had not mentioned trans women in this book. I was surprised to find out that the author comes under TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) and had previously told a few transphobic comments and supported transphobic people.

Studies documenting transgender people's experience of sexual violence indicate shockingly high sexual abuse and assault levels. It is said that more than 50% of them had to go through this experience at least once in their lifetime.

It is the author's right to take any stand that she believes in regarding the LGBTQIA2S+ community. I was still sad to see one of the most famous feminists in the world taking a stand like that, especially in this age of inclusion.

4/5 People will have differing opinions regarding the author's opinion about trans women. Still, I think this is a book that everyone should read at least once in their lifetime.
Profile Image for Sofia.
258 reviews6,446 followers
May 1, 2021
Wow. Turns out the author is a TERF. Can't we all just agree to respect each other's pronouns and gender? Is it really that hard? Come on, people. Don't be jerks. Don't be transphobic. Be a decent person. Thank you to the people in the comments who exposed how TERF-y she is. I read this essay before I knew she was transphobic.

And remember:

Respect Pronouns Worm

Thank you for coming to my TED talk.
Profile Image for Mohamed Al.
Author 2 books4,820 followers
May 24, 2018
غرد يومًا المغني الكويتي حمود الخضر في تويتر بمقطع وهو يغني أغنية سخيفة تقول كلماتها " لا لا .. لا نحتاج المال كي نزداد جمالا" فرددت عليه قائلاً بأنه لولا المال لما استطعنا الاشتراك في خدمة الإنترنت لمشاهدتك وأنت ترتدي نظارة "ماركة" وتقود سيارة "فارهة" وتغني " لا نحتاج المال"!

ليس من عادتي التعليق على كل ما يستفزني في تويتر ، ولكن أعترف بأن من أكثر الأمور استفزازًا بالنسبة لي هي رؤية خليجي ثري، وأنا لا أتحدث عن حمود الخصر فقط، يقول للآخرين بأن المال ليس شيئًا ضروريًا. قد أتقبل أن تصدر هذه الحكمة من شخص فقير ومعدم جرب الحياة بدون مال، أما أن يأت خليجي يزايد على الآخرين وينظّر لهم حول أسباب السعادة وهو الذي لم يجرب أن ينام يومًا واحدًا وهو جائع فذلك أمر في منتهى الخسة والدناءة.

تفاعل الكثيرون مع التغريدة، سلبًا وإيجابًا، رفضًا وموافقة، اختلافًا واتفاقًا، ولكن أحد الأصدقاء ممن لم يعجبه ردي قال لي "وأنت كذلك لم يعينك الفقراء ممثلاً عنهم لتحدد ما يجب أن يقال أو لا يقال عنهم"

استغربت كثيرًا من هذا الرد، فهو يفترض أننا حين نتحدث عن الفقر أننا نتحدث عن أنفسنا وحياتنا !

حين يكون المعيار هو فقط " بما أني بخير فالآخرون لا بد أن يكونوا بخير " أو "يهمني فقط ما أحصل عليه وليذهب الآخرون للجحيم" فإننا ننزل إلى ما دون الحياة البهيمية، لأن البهائم، كما نشاهد في أفلام ناشيونال جيوغرافيك الوثائقية، تهتم بأمر بعضها البعض.

أنا بخير ولله الحمد والمنة، ولدي وظيفة وسيارة ومنزل وأسافر كثيرًا إلخ إلخ لكن غيري ـ وهم كثيرون جدا ـ ليسوا كذلك. وإذا كنت عاجزًا عن مساعدتهم فإنني حتمًا لن أسمح لنفسي باعطائهم نصائح حول كيفية تحقيق السعادة بدون مال لأن الشخص المعدم أو حتى غير المعدم، في رأيي، يهمه البحث عن المال لتلبية احتياجاته ومن ثم تأتي السعادة وغيرها من الأمور بشكل تلقائي.

بدأت مؤخرًا بمتابعة بعض الحسابات النسوية في تويتر، وقد لفت نظري كيف أن الكثير من النساء يستخدمن ذات الحجة التي استخدمها صديقي للرد على مطالب النسويات بوقف الاضطهاد ضد المرأة، أيا كان هذا الاضطهاد ودرجته، فإذا ما غردت نسوية قائلة بأن عائلتها منعتها من السفر لاستكمال دراستها مثلاً، ردت عليها امرأة أخرى قائلة بأن والدها لم يمنعها من السفر ولذلك فادعاء النسويات كاذب!

أعترف بأني لست مطلعًا بشكل كبير على الحركة النسوية العربية، ولكنني أعرف ومتيقن بأن النساء في جميع الدول العربية يعانين من التمييز "الجندري" لكونهن نساء فقط. على الرغم من أن المرأة العربية حققت مكاسب عديدة في الكثير من المجالات إلا أنها حتى الآن لم تأخذ حقوقها، المساوية للرجل، كاملة بحكم سطوة العقلية الذكورية في مجتمعاتنا.

هذا الكتاب، الذي كان في الأصل محاضرة ألقتها الكاتبة في أحد مؤتمرات تيدكس، يسلط الضوء على معاناة المرأة في نيجيريا ولو قمنا بتغيير اسم نيجيريا ووضعنا محله اسم أية دولة عربية سنجد بأن وضع المرأة هو هو سواء كانت نيجيرية أو عربية مما يؤكد بأن قضايا المرأة تتشابه بشكل أو بآخر في جميع المجتمعات.

في المرة القادمة التي أتعثر فيها بامرأة في تويتر تقول بأن النساء العربيات بخير سأرمي في وجهها هذا الكتاب، تمامًا كما سأطلب من أي خليجي ثري، يدعي بأن المال ليس مهما، أن يمنحني أمواله التي لا يحتاجها.
Profile Image for Nat.
553 reviews3,177 followers
June 5, 2020
— Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun.

We Should All Be Feminists is a personal, eloquently-argued essay – adapted from the much-viewed Tedx talk of the same name – by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Which I have, not so coincidentally, watched numerous times— so much so that I have come to learn and preform the speech alongside her.

The modified book version of the talk was a very quick and important read that, like the talk, will stay with me for a long time (especially all the beautifully poignant quotes):

“He told me that people were saying my novel was feminist, and his advice to me – he was shaking his head sadly as he spoke – was that I should never call myself a feminist, since feminists are women who are unhappy because they cannot find husbands.

So I decided to call myself a Happy Feminist.”

“We have evolved. But our ideas of gender have not evolved very much.”

“We spend too much time teaching girls to worry about what boys think of them. But the reverse is not the case. We don’t teach boys to care about being likeable. We spend too much time telling girls that they cannot be angry or aggressive or tough, which is bad enough, but then we turn around and either praise or excuse men for the same reasons.”


“It is easy to say, ‘But women can just say no to all this.’ But the reality is more difficult, more complex. We are all social beings. We internalize ideas from our socialization.”

“The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are. Imagine how much happier we would be, how much freer to be our true individual selves, if we didn’t have the weight of gender expectations.”

“I know a woman who has the same degree and same job as her husband. When they get back from work, she does most of the housework, which is true for many marriages, but what struck me was that whenever he changed the baby’s nappy, she said thank you to him. What if she saw it as something normal and natural, that he should help care for his child?”

“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 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. That the problem was not about being human, but specifically about being a female human.”

Also, I found this slam poem* to be really fitting with the subject.

(* I featured it in My Top Ten Slam Poems.)

Overall, I was truly impressed with We Should All Be Feminists and hope to read more from the author.

*Note: I'm an Amazon Affiliate. If you're interested in buying We Should All Be Feminists, just click on the image below to go through my link. I'll make a small commission!*

This review and more can be found on my blog.
Profile Image for karen.
3,978 reviews170k followers
June 13, 2018
A Nigerian acquaintance once asked me if I was worried that men would be intimidated by me.

I was not worried at all - it had not even occurred to me to be worried, because a man who would be intimidated by me is exactly the kind of man I would have no interest in.

this is the second book i have read from my quarterly literary fiction box from pagehabit:

this is very much like Between the World and Me in the sense that they are both short works addressing huge issues (race, gender) and approaching them more or less anecdotally, which is a really refreshing approach. i liked this one more than i liked coates' book, which i never even reviewed because i am the worst. (nor have i yet reviewed many of my teeny tiny nonfiction reads from the past year: Consider the Oyster, The Face: Cartography of the Void, The Clothing of Books) but i'm reviewing this one! even though i don't have much in the way of response/content. i love the way adichie writes - this book is conversational and relaxed, there's good flow between her examples and arguments, and her suggestions about how to adjust the way we think about gender and to address inequality are small and manageable, but it's precisely those small, everyday situations where examples set by individuals have an impact on the way the world works, the way we treat other people, the influence on the following generation. 'be the change you wish to see in the world' and all. or, in my own philosophy, 'try not to be an asshole today.' small acts, but big goals:

What is the point of culture? Culture functions ultimately to ensure the preservation and continuity of a people…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.

a lot of adichie's examples are specific to nigeria - i've never heard of a woman being asked to produce her key in a hotel lobby to ensure she was not a prostitute, and waitstaff in america tend to be, if anything, more attentive to women than to men, but many of her observations do have parallels/relevance to gender issues in my land. in any event, she's a hell of a writer and you should probably read this and see what you can do about making the world a little less obnoxious.

'cuz we could use that right about now.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for jessica.
2,533 reviews32.4k followers
December 4, 2018
‘my own definition of a feminist is a man or a 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.’

this. this. a thousand times this!

this essay has never been more relevant, important or necessary. it is a wonderful introduction to feminism and its growing purpose in todays society. however, it is just an introduction, as the brief length only allows for adichie to concisely outline what feminism is and why it is important. but the topic itself is one that could fill tomes. and i have never read a statement that so efficiently and passionately describes the struggle for gender equality.

this book is a call to action, one that every human should be willing to answer.

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
793 reviews3,608 followers
April 26, 2020
Reading this brilliant and important work reminded me of many other books that could positively change society, such as
and many others that should be especially given to young boys and men to form a good alternative to the consumerism mainstream trash we celebrate as culture and part of Western identity today.

It´s often the case that 52 pages of condensed intelligence have more solutions, ideas, and concrete plans to fight grievances than unrealistic, over the top, counterproductive, conservative, camouflaged racist, homophobic, misogynic, etc., so called government plans and concepts, all pathetic displays of the many different stages of outdated societal, democratic, government, and economic models, depending on the country, but omnipresent in close to all of them.

How authors like her show the bigotry and madness of our system is amazing, talking about topics Western media likes to ignore, helping to understand the link between stupid neoliberal, neocolonial, neoconservative politics and economics dominating Western democracies, leading to all problems in the Southern hemisphere and directly helping any kind of stone age dictatorship theocracy to stay established as long as possible. Because the companies controlling any aspect of the US and EU get better deals with them than with emancipated, stable democracies that aren´t so easy to exploit.

The problem is not just the direct violence, conditions close to slavery, and oppression women have to deal with in many countries promoting such policies, it´s the poverty and global lack of distributive justice that makes the difference between the best places to live, the Northern European countries following the Nordic model with ecosocial Keynesian models and failing states.

Because white, rich men (sorry for being so stereotypical and discriminating this poor group) want to get richer, just some emancipated women, a tiny fraction of the world's population (when looking at child abuse, domestic violence, sexual abuse, etc. in so called enlightened democracies and the states incompetence to help the victims, punish the perpetrators, or change the oldfashioned education systems to something not producing offenders and rapist, that can be sure to get no real punishment when grown up and active) can live a peaceful life in one country while the other states are closer to medieval times than to the 21st century or, in some cases, if the state is rich but an authoritarian theocracy, a bizarre mixture of modern technology and tribe culture.

I find it highly irritating that many don´t seem to understand that the conditions described in the astonishing novel and series The handmaid's tale and similar Sci-Fi and horror dystopian uchronia works is reality for the majority of the female world population. That the nightmare is just ending for those privileged to just having to push the button to stop watching or to stop reading and never have to face being dominated deluded humans.

It´s not just the God Pan and humans closeness and relationship to nature that were killed with institutionalized stupidity thousands of years ago, it was the destruction of a sustainable and fair matriarchy necessary to facilitate the patriarchic reign of terror that let to all the political and economic madnesses called human history, not to talk of total destruction of nature.

One of the quickest ways might be to go the way of activism, alternative political parties, online activism,… in the Western countries to get a fundamental change to a progressive post scarcity political model started to force the dictatorships to change their societal model.

It´s not impossible, clever minds already made all the concepts, they are still just unwanted by the elite, because one of the nastiest elements of the Nordic model is a fair tax system and transparent government making large scale corruption and lobbyism tricky to impossible. Absolutely unthinkable, as these are the only things that could shock those people, not worldwide suffering, just losing cash.

Of course, there are still enough problems in the emancipated countries, as progress takes its time to accelerate, and there are many grievances and problems to solve, but all of this is nothing compared to the real suffering and it´s a privilege to be allowed talking about feminism without the fear of stoning, acid attacks, or lynch mobs.

Something that often seems to be forgotten in tradition of First world problems is that it aren´t unsolvable errors intrinsic to the system and insolvable without a radical change, but corrections mainly to solve by breeding the next generation of emancipated men, as the old and young sexists, machos, and chauvinists won´t change, no matter what country. That´s what they sadly have in common with all other extremist mindsets with very improbable chances of recovering, as the once infected and indoctrinated mind tends to see the madness as a crucial part of its identity and the personality constructed out of rotten components.

A wiki walk can be as refreshing to the mind as a walk through nature in this completely overrated real life outside books:
Profile Image for Lisa.
977 reviews3,327 followers
August 8, 2018
I was raised to be a masculinist!

Where I grew up, women did the housework, took care of children, made sure dinner was served, and cleaned up afterwards. Women worked, but only if it did not interfere with the "career" of their husbands, and they worked for lower salaries, and were reminded of that fact - often. If the "Career" required moving, women resigned from their jobs, packed up and left with the family. Women listened to the stories of men, and deferred to their "knowledge", they accepted the myth that men knew about finances while they were just "spending" money (quite necessarily, as their husbands couldn't be bothered with the lower chores of grocery shopping and supplying children with clothes, shoes and school materials). Women were likeable, nice-looking, and kind - in public. Under no circumstances did women have political opinions that didn't match their husbands' or challenge their "intellectual superiority" openly. They did not challenge the husbands' right to sit and chat over a bottle of wine while they cleaned the kitchen and put the children to bed. They raised their sons to become bosses and their daughters to have a decent education and a day job that could be managed while running a household. Duktig flicka! I don't know how to translate the Swedish phrase, meaning something to the effect that a girl has to be good, hardworking, modest, restrained, likeable, quiet ... anything but a trouble maker or independent intellectual thinker.

Where I grew up, in liberal Northern Europe, in the 1980s and 1990s, it was common to think that "feminist" is a swearword, something that indicates an angry, ugly, old hag who "didn't get a husband", a person who had by definition "failed" and vented her frustration at her own failure by making life uncomfortable for "successful" people - all out of jealousy. If you read interviews with some of the older members of the Swedish Academy, you will see the kind of male entitlement I refer to. Breaking down the longstanding wall of privilege is painful to them, so they scream. Not Witch Hunt, but: "Feminist!"

Where I grew up, it was common for men to be frustrated when they didn't get to talk nonstop. Each "interruption" by a woman would be silently "tolerated" or challenged.

Where I live now, in the same country, but in a completely different social environment, we try to do what Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie brilliantly suggests: we try to raise our children to be equals. We try to change the language we use when addressing boys and girls, we try to disrupt the tradition of expecting different things from female and male staff, we try to see human beings with individual needs and interests rather than "hard men" and "kind women".

But there is a trend again in the world, and the author of this short essay points it out in the clearest possible way: feminism has again become a negative, something that is thrown in as an insult whenever someone wants to silence a woman who breaks the hidden rule of behaviour, which tells her that her anger is "aggressive", while her male counterpart is "assertive and strong".

We must talk about gender again! And we can't let it be watered down to general "human rights" or "humanism", for there is a gender problem which can only be solved if we acknowledge the fact that it exists. The author uses the example of a black man who tells her not to talk about "feminism", but rather about "humanism", as poor and underprivileged men suffer as well, and so on and so on. The list of "Whataboutisms" is long. That is true, but it doesn't address the problem. My broken leg is not mended by pointing out that my neighbour has a bump on his forehead. The black man had no difficulties talking about his disadvantage as a coloured man, and didn't see that by his own reasoning regarding feminism, the question of racism must by analogy also be watered down to a general fight for "human rights". It is not that easy though - there are problems that relate directly to the notion of white supremacy, and they have to be addressed specifically. And there are problems around gender that have to be honestly treated for what they are.

So I agree with the author that we should all be feminists. We should be the kind of feminist we choose ourselves, and I am quite close to her individual definition of herself as a Happy Feminist Who Doesn't Hate Men And Who Likes To Wear Nice Clothes For Herself. Feminism is about setting the record straight. And to do that, educators and parents need to be aware of the messages we send to the next generation. The adjectives we use DO matter.

This essay is a brilliant discussion starter on the topic!

Read it!


And in case anyone doubts we still have a lopsided society, check out today's article in the Guardian regarding "women having to quit their jobs to fill the gaps in care taking". I think it is about time that we sign up Johnson, Farage, Trump, Putin and all those other "strong" men to do some care taking. After all, it requires some muscle, and men are physically stronger than women, I have been told?

Postscript 2:

I am thinking of creating a "misogyny of the day" file. Each day, all over the world, we read reports like the following one from Japan, reporting that a school faked test results for decades to make sure more men than women become doctors. The women who would have passed would come in handy in the post Brexit care taking crisis - working for free? But then of course, they would be unwelcome foreigners in UK. Difficult to be racist and misogynist and in need of care.

Profile Image for s.penkevich.
851 reviews5,837 followers
May 26, 2017
'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.

I read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's We Should All Be Feminists in a single, uninterrupted sitting over two beers at my favourite bar. This is important for two reasons. First, it shows how quickly one is able to read this book, and read it you should. This should be, assuredly, essential reading. At it's worst it is simply a primer and general basis for examining feminism but even those who have spent a great deal of time studying and living it will find great value in her words. She is powerfully succinct and delivers her message in potent anecdotes easily swallowed in a coating of gorgeous prose than leaves one yearning for more (after finishing this I spent a few months reading everything she had written). Yes, this is just a printed version of her readily and freely accessible TED talk yet it elaborates on a few points and being able to connect with the printed word and drink in her message this way is an extraordinary experience. Secondly, and more importantly, the fact that I was able to read this uninterrupted in a bar is an interestingly gendered privilege that those who disagree that gender plays to extremely biases and unequal treatment should pay attention to. And it is exactly that, a privilege, and because I was able to enjoy my solitude while reading in a crowded bar I need to speak up. Imagine, for a moment, had I been female and alone. Without a doubt, a male figure would have inquired what I was reading and probably would have probed me to talk about it. Or, let's face it, more likely would have not given a damn about what I was reading but used it as a spring board to talk about what he reads and why it makes him so cool. Probably would have tried to get me to drink a bit more. Probably would have ignored that I was sitting there alone trying to read a book and been completely oblivious that his presence was a total, undesired interruption. Knowing myself, I would have been polite and chatted while glancing back at my book each moment the conversation lagged hoping to continue reading. I've seen this happen countless times. A girl alone and enjoying a drink is never left alone. Men swarm like flies. She probably just got off work or is waiting for something. She is assuredly not there for you. She is there for her. Let her be. There is a very good chance I would never have made it more than a dozen pages through this book trying to read it alone and drinking in a bar had I been female. And this is very problematic.

What is it with males who cat-call? Why does it seem that this sort of behavior happens most often when someone is engrossed in their own life, ie. looking at their phone, listening to music or reading a book (also, why is it that so many people see reading a book--and this goes for all genders--as an open invitation to keep talking? I read in my car on lunch breaks for this very reason). It seems to be some creepy ego trip--how dare she have a life that I have no part of they must think. Whats worst are those who see a ring and proceed anyway like some gross primal alpha male domination instinct. It's repulsive and juvenile. The girl you see on the subway or in the bar or at a park or wherever you may be isn't there for you. She isn't wearing a dress to impress you, she just likes that dress. Her make-up wasn't put on that morning to please you. She smiles at you when you say something because that is what polite people do, not an invitation to the bedroom. Please stop this behavior.

'People make culture' Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says, 'If we do something over and over, it becomes normal. If we see the same thing over and over, it becomes normal.' This sort of animalistic male domineering has gone on for so long that it has become a norm. People talk about creepers in clubs and bars as if it is just an annoyance that comes with the territory instead of a problem that should be addressed, which is very sad to me. Yes, this is not something I have to deal with so I am most definitely speaking out of place and likely offensive to some because of this and I am sorry, but I just am tired to seeing misogynists get away with being creepy assholes because it is just 'something that happens'. This male behavior seeps into all of society and sexualizes everything. Recently I encountered a man with a t-shirt listing 'Rules for Dating My Daughter'. If you are a man and own a t-shirt that discusses your own daughter's sexuality, that isn't cute it is repulsive. Why are you sexualizing your own daughter? Why must we impose sexuality onto anything? 'The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are.' This sort of sexualization in society takes hold in so many ways. Clothing is assessed for how others will respond to it sexually, our speech, our actions, the way we move when passing a stranger on a street, hell even the books we read the shows we watch the hobbies we have all get looked at by society in a way that people assess in a sexualized manner. Girls that like sports or video games are 'hot', girls that read Jane Austen are 'nerds', knitting isn't sexy, etc, et al, and all of it is bullshit. Let people be people and treat them like people. It makes me sad hearing from female friends how many strangers on social media start a conversation with 'hey sexy' or something to that effect. A woman is not her looks, please at least acknowledge she has a brain and a personality first. Do these lines actually work?
We teach girls shame. “Close your legs. Cover yourself.” We make them feel as though being born female they’re already guilty of something. And so, girls grow up to be women who cannot say they have desire. They grow up to be women who silence themselves. They grow up to be women who cannot say what they truly think. And they grow up — and this is the worst thing we do to girls — they grow up to be women who have turned pretense into an art form.
It is sad to think these are the lessons learned from common interaction with society.

'This is how to start: We must raise our daughters differently. We must also raise our sons differently.'

What is most important from Adichie's words though is that Feminism isn't just something for 'angry women', but something for everyone. '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.' This is something we all must take to heart. It isn't just about empowering females, but also about teaching males about their own behavior. Male fragility is a real thing and forcing men to submit to gender normative restraints is just as damning as imposing it on females. 'But by far the worst thing we do to males—by making them feel they have to be hard—is that we leave them with very fragile egos. The harder a man feels compelled to be, the weaker his ego is.' Boys tease other boy who cry or might like something that is seen as 'girly'. They force an obdurate normality that becomes like a cancer and the side-effects harm everyone. Much misogyny can be boiled down to a male feeling they must assert a dominance or because they feel threatened. We must teach boys that a self reliant woman isn't a threat but something to be cherished just as much as we should teach girls that being independent and strong isn't something to shrink away from.
And then we do a much greater disservice to girls, because we raise them to cater to the fragile egos of males. We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls: You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful but not too successful, otherwise you will threaten the man. If you are the breadwinner in your relationship with a man, pretend that you are not, especially in public, otherwise you will emasculate him
I find that the concept of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl to be one of the most damning motifs we find in entertainment art forms. This whole idea that a man can tame some wild girl and save her from herself is disturbing. Why can't we have the Well Adjusted and Well Read Dream Girl? The Independent and Business Minded Dream Girl? Another motif in entertainment is that white (male) knight that is the only thing that can save the girl (look at 13 Reasons Why, which is hugely problematic on countless other levels as well, but perpetuated the idea that all of society fails this girl and only the white male love interest can save her but just happens to be too late. Bleh.). We need to teach our children to be strong, to be kind, to be themselves and to see that gender norms are damaging to both themselves and others.

'Gender as it functions today is a grave injustice. I am angry. We should all be angry. Anger has a long history of bringing about positive change. But I am also hopeful, because I believe deeply in the ability of human beings to remake themselves for the better.'

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a fantastic speaker and writer that can deliver a heady and multi-faceted topic in such easily accessible ways without sacrificing the weight and magnitude of the ideas. This is a book everyone should read and give thought to. This is a problem that affects us all regardless of our gender and the issues of it should always be first and foremost in our minds and actions if we ever hope to see a change in the world. Treat others like people, with love and not lust, with hope and not hindrance. Let the girl at the bar reading by herself read her book and give her the agency to talk to you if she chooses to, and if she doesn't, don't take it as a slight against yourself. We are all trying to get through this life, lets do it together. I'd like to publicly declare misogyny as my arch-enemy, please join me in the fight to exterminate it. Let education and empathy be our weapons, and always lead by good example.

'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 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.'
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,002 reviews36k followers
February 10, 2017
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has a presence about her that is stunning!!!!
She is eloquent- lovely - warm - and real! It's natural to immediately love this woman the first time you see her, and listen to her speak.

That said....she is magnificent in her TED TALK -- from which this small pocket size book was then put together. When I read this book - I didn't have nearly the same feeling about it as when I listened to Chimamanda speak.
In fact - I actually debated a few things ( my own voice took off with a mind of its own)....
For example: She asks, "why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage, yet we don't teach boys to do the same"? When I listen to her speak in her Ted talk about this, it felt right ---she was speaking from her experience coming from Africa.
When I read this book - taken at face value- here in America - ( in the Bay Area 2017), I asked myself... did I do this? The answer is no! Neither of my daughters are married - nor do either have children. They are 31 and 35 years of age. My friends have transformed years ago too!!!
Also.... my husband was raised by a single mother - he was not taught specific male stereotype gender roles. He was not raised with a dis -service.
I guess what I'm saying -- is I'm happy to see a few of the issues that were challenged in here -- have transformed. It might be nice to acknowledge the growth.

What makes this book special is CHIMAMANDA!!!!! That's it!!! She's GREAT!!!!
Of the two - I'd pass on this pocket book - and instead listen to her speak this book on her TED TALK......a FEW TIMES!!!

And mostly.... the overall message is a given! Thumbs Up! Amen!!!

Many thanks.... this book was a 'gift' sent to me in a lovely box - with a few books - toys and Tea cup .... ( very kind... very cute - quality books), from The Quarterly Literary Box. 'Surprise Book Treats'.... what will the book world think of next? Very cute and creative - as I said! Thank you for this lovely gift. Love the 'Jane Eyre' black tea! :)

Profile Image for Adina.
827 reviews3,226 followers
April 5, 2017
“Culture does not make people. People make culture. ”

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the author of Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun, a book that highly recommend. This essay is based on a TED talk with the same title and it encourages us not to be negatively influenced by the bad reputation the word “feminism“ has built and that we need to educate our children to understand the importance of gender equality. I liked some of the arguments brought forward but I did not have the feeling she said something new or groundbreaking. I suspect that her TED talk was more powerful and I feel that the impact of her words is heightened in speech.

I am a feminist. I’ve been a feminist since I was a child and one of the things that made me angry (and still does) is gender expectancy. Since we are little girls we learn that we need to be delicate, girlish, to play with dolls, to like pink (try to find girl toys that are not pink) etc. Girls who have other preferences are called boyish, rebels. I was a girly child but I hated it when my mum other people told me that a girl should/should not do this and that. The same happens when we grow older. We are expected to cook, do house chores, not to eat too much or do anything that will make us a less worthy match. We need to please men, find a husband and procreate. That is meant to be the ultimate goal in the life of a woman, even in a modern society. As Adichie also says, it is not the same thing with men, they are not expected to learn how to please a woman.

„We teach females that in relationships, compromise is what a woman is more likely to do. ”

I know things are improving but there still is a long way to go. I saw some articles the other day about Amal Clooney’s speech at UN where she requested for ISIS to be held responsible for the crimes they committed. Can you guess what the titles of the story were? Amal shows her baby bump at the ONU speech!! Seriously, that was the most important thing to tell about her presence there? Don't get me wrong, it is beautiful that she has a little human growing inside her but I do not think it was the case to talk about that in those circumstances.

That reminds me of a different problem that I face at work sometimes. During business trips I meet mainly with men and I sometimes worry what should I wear. Should I wear a dress, as I usually like to, or should I wear pants in order to be taken more seriously? Adichie touched this subject as well in her essay, discussing one lecture where she decided to dress uncomfortably and out of character in order to be respected.

"The sad truth of the matter is that when it comes to appearance, we start off with men as the standard, as the norm. Many of us think that the less feminine a woman appears, the more likely she is to be taken seriously. A man going to a business meeting doesn’t wonder about being taken seriously based on what he is wearing—but a woman does."

I think people still consider that in order to be successful person (man or woman) one needs to be tough, manly and it angers me. Not everybody is like this and it should not be an aspiration. Each of us, men or women, have our wonderful qualities, we need to cherish them and be ourselves. The pressure that you can only achieve success by being "manly" also affects men who need to live to the expectations. I liked that Adichie also discusses the expectations society has for men and that they can also be harmful.

"Gender matters everywhere in the world. And I would like today to ask that we begin to dream about and plan for a different world. A fairer world. A world of happier men and happier women who are truer to themselves. And this is how to start: We must raise our daughters differently. We must also raise our sons differently."
Profile Image for Hannah Azerang.
125 reviews94.3k followers
March 29, 2016
This reiterated many of my own beliefs but in such a concise and well developed argument. I'd highly recommend this to anyone curious about feminism and gender studies because it's the perfect intro.

Profile Image for Hannah Greendale.
703 reviews3,275 followers
March 27, 2017
Click here to watch a video review of this book on my channel, From Beginning to Bookend.

We Should All Be Feminists tackles the issue of feminism in the twenty-first century, rallies readers to envision a better, more equal world, and then encourages readers to take action to make that vision a reality.

The misunderstanding and negative stigma associated with the word feminist is eloquently explained in just a few short pages. The clear-headed, concise approach taken by the author to make the word and the cause more accessible to all is effective.

But it shows how that word feminist is so heavy with baggage, negative baggage: you hate men, you hate bras, you hate African culture, you think women should always be in charge, you don't wear make-up, you don't shave, you're always angry, you don't have a sense of humor, you don't use deodorant.

Rather than be afraid of the word feminist, readers are encouraged to understand and embrace it.

Much care is given to examining the varied ways in which boys and girls are raised, highlighting the disparate priorities emphasized in their upbringing based solely on their gender.

We spend too much time teaching girls to worry about what boys think of them. But the reverse is not the case.

We raise our girls to see each other as competition - not for jobs or accomplishments, which in my opinion can be a good thing, but for the attention of men.

We do a great disservice to the boys in how we raise them. We stifle the humanity of our boys. We define masculinity in a very narrow way. [. . .] But by far the worse thing we do to males - by making them feel they have to be hard - is that we leave them with very fragile egos.

Citing the norms society has come to accept, and the sexual politics that continue to cause imbalance between genders, the author urges readers to transform their way of thinking and lay the foundation for more equality in future by examining and reforming the way boys and girls are raised.

Gender matters everywhere in the world. And I would like today to ask that we should begin to dream about a plan for a different world. A fairer world. A world of happier men and happier women who are truer to themselves. And this is how we must start: we must raise our daughters differently. We must also raise our sons differently.

Personal stories are interwoven throughout, giving a more intimate feel to this essay, which was adapted from a TEDx talk given by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in 2013.

We Should All Be Feminists is a small book overflowing with big messages.

My deepest gratitude to Quarterly.co for providing a free Literary Box with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Quarterly.co's Literary Box comes with bookish goodies, a feature book, and two additional books selected by the author of the feature novel.

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What makes the Literary Box special are the notes written by the author of the feature book. These notes give readers unique insights into the book that only the author would know.

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Profile Image for Brina.
898 reviews4 followers
March 1, 2017
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a leading voice in African literature today. She has written three novels and one short story collection that have all won multiple awards. Two years ago she was asked by organizers of the TEDx talk to deliver a lecture on her views on feminism in the 21st century. We Should All Be Feminists is the published essay of her talk, and is a resource that is beneficial to all who read it.

After reading Americanah, I was curious to read one of Adichie's novels that takes place fully in Africa in order to find out more about its culture. In this slim volume, Adichie expresses her views about women's place in Nigerian society. In her Igbo culture, for example, women can not make family decisions, which to her is baffling because she is the only one in her family who is interested in genealogy. In the metropolis of Lagos, women can not go to bars alone, they are viewed a certain way if they go into hotels, and single woman actually wear wedding bands to business meetings. The division of the sexes is clear, and even today women are considered a failure if they do not get married.

Adichie stresses that human nature has not advanced in over one thousand years. Then people were valued for their physical strength so of course men were considered superior beings. Today people are valued for their wisdom and intellect and women comprise 52% of the population, yet men are still ahead. This, she stresses, is because in many cultures, men are considered the breadwinners and woman the domestic workers even if the woman has a higher level of education and a job paying more money than her male counterpart. Adichie believes that in order for women to make strides in Nigerian or any society that people have to view women from a similiar lens as men, or the divisions in society will remain rigid.

Sharing an episode from her schooling, Adichie reminded me of an instance in my own school experience even though we grew up in different countries. In middle school her teacher told their class that the student with the highest test grade would become class monitor. She got the highest grade but a boy became class monitor. Meanwhile in my upbringing I always did better than the boys in my class in our teacher's weekly sports poll. The boys questioned why I won. Unlike Adichie, I got to keep my prize but at a cost of being teased for being better than the boys. In a society that stresses wisdom over brawniness, these two instances would be outliers rather than the norm.

As we move further into the 21st century, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie urges everyone to be a feminist in a positive viewpoint. Feminism does not have to mean that a person hates men, isn't happy, or does not show her girly side. Rather feminist should mean that a person strives for women to have equal access to gains in all facets of society that men have enjoyed for centuries. Only 52 short pages in length, We Should All Be Feminists can be read in under half an hour. It is a wonderful manifesto for the 21st century, and is highly recommended. 4 shining stars, downgraded simply for its short length.
Profile Image for Ilenia Zodiaco.
260 reviews13.3k followers
April 2, 2017
"La cultura non fa le persone. Sono le persone che fanno la cultura. Se è vero che la piena umanità delle donne non fa parte della nostra cultura, allora possiamo e dobbiamo far sì che lo diventi"
Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
839 reviews3,757 followers
February 15, 2021

The fact that feminism is often considered as a negative concept is rather new to me, simply because I've internalized my anger/my annoyance for years and started to point what shocked me to people only recently.

Why is that? Did my family raise me in the belief that we women shouldn't speak up? Hardly. Not once did my parents implied that I shouldn't be ambitious because I was a woman. Every day of my teenage years my mother repeated to me that I should never do something - including sex - that I didn't want to do to fulfill other's expectations and for that, I'm grateful. I am a thirty years old woman who's successful in her work, has been in a fulfilling and loving relationship for 6 years and we don't intend to have children just quite yet. My family is okay with that and never implied that I should start a family because that's what people do.

So, why? What can explain that until a few years ago I used to not stand up when faced to situations where my being was judged by gendered standards? I could say that I don't know, but it wouldn't be true : I genuinely think we are the products of our society and that I had internalized so many biased statements about what I can do as a woman and what I can't that I didn't even notice them anymore. This is why I find this kind of books important.

Short and highly readable but powerful and yes, needed. Because I'll always remember the first time I expressed out loud my anger and bewilderment about a sexist situation : people (including women) told me exactly what the author has been told : "ugh but you're a feminist". And yes, feminist was quite the insult here. So I started reading books. Researching. Noticing more and more generally admitted stereotypes in my everyday life. Now, when I hear someone saying things like (last week in an official meeting), "children can stay here if their mum is busy or their father is at work", I frown and speak up. I'm annoying, but the fact is, I don't fucking care if I am.

"Anger, the tone said, is particularly not good for a woman. If you are a woman, you are not supposed to express anger, because it is threatening."
I'll add : because if you're angry people say that you're "making a scene", and god forbid you answer when you're insulted! Earlier last week my little sister was publicly insulted in broad daylight because she was wearing a dress. She called me, baffled to see that nobody reacted and that people told her to calm down because "it was how things were" when she answered angrily in a situation where she had every right to be mad. Don't tell me it's not true that we women are supposed to be kind and pleasant : it stays, in 2015, how most people think, and you're quickly called a - sexually frustrated - bitch when you dare to say that no, thank you, I don't want to be insulted for no reasons.

"We teach females that in relationships, compromise is what a woman is more likely to do.
We raise girls to see each other as competitors - not for jobs or accomplishments, which in my opinion can be a good thing, but for the attention of men."

As a teacher, I can't agree more with the author's statement about how we raise children. If I'm sure that many of you are progressive in that subject, it remains that wrong ideas about what are - and more often than not in people's heads, must be - masculinity and feminity are spread every day and I see it in my pupils' behavior on a daily basis. These stupid expectations hurt both men and women.

"What if, in raising children, we focus on ability instead of gender? What if we focus on interest instead of gender?"

That's why I urge you to read this short essay and I'm going to shove this book in my friends' throat gently and nicely advice my friends to read it. If it can make people more interested in these issues, it would already be a positive step.

For more of my reviews, please visit:
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,292 reviews2,288 followers
December 11, 2021
⭐The only book on FEMINISM we all need to read once...and every other day👍

This book does not preach.
This is one of the best reads which tell everything you need to understand about feminism with the most amazing examples from the author's personal experiences👍

This book is so aptly short and tells you exactly what feminism means.

There's nothing to go beyond this book for me to understand about feminism.

It's just as accurate as it gets.

Just read this book. It's enough.
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
916 reviews13.9k followers
August 23, 2016
I agree with every single thing in this book! I loved this discussion about feminism from a Nigerian woman's perspective, because Western feminism differs completely from what those women experience every day. I can't wait to read Chimamanda's full-length novels! I have yet to get my hands on one!
Profile Image for Tanu.
327 reviews319 followers
January 8, 2023
"Masculinity is a hard, small cage, and we put boys inside this cage."

This is a small but insightful book. It's quite natural to feel overwhelmed by the concept of feminism and everything it entails. Reading is one of the finest ways for a patient novice on the route to knowing feminism, given how the Internet is a volcano of information (both legitimate and inauthentic). The book can be utilised to learn about feminism as a beginning point.

The aspects discussed in the book are:

1.  The stereotypical idea of feminism.
2.  The word feminist
3.  The process of normalisation
4.  Invisibilization
5.  Pay gap
6.  Raising girls and boys differently
7. Culture and gender

It's a fantastic little read that I wish everyone was required to read. 

Grab your copy here.
Profile Image for emma.
1,822 reviews48.2k followers
July 3, 2017
This book...is amazing.

To all anti-feminists or non-feminists: I challenge you to pick this up and find a reason not to love feminism.

To all feminists: Read this. We all need some cheering up right now, I'd imagine, and this will give you a little bit of hope.

To all men: This involves you, too. Society disservices you with gender expectations as well as women. You are not oppressed, but you are hurt. We would all benefit from a change in our cultural recognition of what gender is.

This book stands out from other books about feminism in so many ways: In its brevity; in the power and beauty of its prose; in its discussion of African sexism alongside its existence in the West; in the relatability as well as in the differences.

It's a gorgeous little book. I know I will return to it.

Bottom line: Read it, read it, read it. No excuses. It's short, it's important, it's lovely.
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