Emer (A Little Haze)'s Reviews > We Should All Be Feminists

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
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it was amazing
bookshelves: read2016, reviewed, non-fiction, read2017, 5stars, owned-ebooks
Read 2 times. Last read March 16, 2017.

“A nice, well-meaning man …(said) 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.”



When you find yourself in a mini reading slump what do you do???
For me, I turned to my favourite contemporary author and this extended essay that is a slight variation on her much exalted TEDx talk from 2013. You can view the YouTube video of that talk here.


What does it mean to be a feminist?
It is a question I have often asked myself. As a young teenager I readily identified as a feminist. I wanted equality for the sexes, I wanted young girls like myself to be treated the exact same way as boys my age and for us all to have every opportunity there was for a bright future. I read feminist books, subscribed to feminist ideologies and I was very sure of my beliefs and forthright with my opinions.
“Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.”



Somewhere in my late teens or early 20s that ideological young girl became disillusioned. I grew into an adult, I had different responsibilities and my relationships changed me. I became more sympathetic to the plight of men and began to say that I no longer was feminist but a pluralist. I still wanted the same things; equality for all, fairness, justice etc but I didn’t want to use a term like feminism anymore as it had such nasty connotations; a bitter undercurrent…
“Feminist is so heavy with baggage, negative baggage: you hate men, you hate bras… 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 humour, you don’t use deodorant.”



And then more years passed. I grew even older and somehow, I came full circle. And I am now back to being as proud and unabashedly feminist as ever. And like Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie in this talk I am reclaiming the word feminist. Being a feminist is a positive thing. It doesn’t mean to man-bash, it doesn’t mean to be angry or bitter, it doesn't mean to favour one gender over the other. No instead it is about calling out society on the way we are rearing our young people; on the social ideas we are instilling in them with regard to gender bias.
“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.’ But what if we question the premise itself? Why should a woman’s success be a threat to a man? What if we decide to simply dispose of that word?”



So I am embracing my femininity, I am proud of who I am. I like to be girly; I like to wear dresses and floral perfumes. My favourite colour is pink, rom-coms are my favourite types of films….
And guess what??? I am also technically minded, I am a scientist, political and current affairs are highly important to me….
I can be ALL of these things!!!
I do not have to deny any aspect of my personality to fit in with some notion of what society says a woman should be, should do or should want.
“I knew that because I was female, I would automatically have to prove my worth. And I was worried that if I looked too feminine, I would not be taken seriously. I really wanted to wear my shiny lip gloss and my girly skirt, but I decided not to. I wore a very serious, very manly, and very ugly suit.”



This is a great, simple essay. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie just states truths. She explains things in a way that we can all understand them. She can make you angry with the simplest of stories and yet she is hopeful, as am I.

Equality is within our grasp.

We only have to change our minds, re-evaluate how we see ourselves and what it is we want to teach our children. Please don’t be like I once was. Don’t let society make you feel bad for saying that there is a gender imbalance out there, that life is experienced differently if you are female.


Chimamanda is a proud happy feminist and I, happily and proudly, am one too.


Four and a half stars rounded up to five

“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. All over the world, there are so many magazine articles and books telling women what to do, how to be and not to be, in order to attract or please men. There are far fewer guides for men about pleasing women.

We do a great disservice to boys in how we raise them. 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. We teach boys to be afraid of fear, of weakness, of vulnerability. We teach them to mask their true selves, because they have to be, in Nigerian-speak, a hard man.”
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Quotes Emer (A Little Haze) Liked

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
“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 would threaten the man. Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same? We raise girls to see each other as competitors not for jobs or accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men. We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 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 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.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
“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 likable. 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. All over the world, there are so many magazine articles and books telling women what to do, how to be and not to be, in order to attract or please men. There are far fewer guides for men about pleasing women.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
“I have chosen to no longer be apologetic for my femaleness and my femininity. And I want to be respected in all of my femaleness because I deserve to be.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, We Should All Be Feminists


Reading Progress

January 25, 2016 – Shelved
May 13, 2016 – Started Reading
May 13, 2016 – Finished Reading
March 16, 2017 – Started Reading
March 16, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-17 of 17 (17 new)

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Giulia I've been meaning to read this since forever, and your review is certainly sparking up my interest! Great review my dear.:D


Emer (A Little Haze) Giulia wrote: "I've been meaning to read this since forever, and your review is certainly sparking up my interest! Great review my dear.:D"

The YouTube video is practically the same as the essay, I read the essay first and watched the video immediately after so you could just watch the video rather than having to shell out a euro or two for the ebook. I'm just such a fan of hers that I had to buy it.... Thanks dear Giulia :))) Xx


Giulia Don't worry, I managed to have a *shhh don't tell anyone* free copy, but I want to watch the video too!:))


message 4: by Emer (A Little Haze) (last edited May 13, 2016 02:39PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Emer (A Little Haze) Giulia wrote: "Don't worry, I managed to have a *shhh don't tell anyone* free copy, but I want to watch the video too!:))"

LUCKY!!!!!! And I shall never breathe a word of it :))))


Emer (A Little Haze) Birchsilver (birchbooksblog) wrote: "Fantastic!
This is exactly what EVERYONE needs to read.
Well written and thought-provoking!"


Thank you Birch. Chimamanda is a fantastic author. Her novels are equally brilliant.


Reyes When I'm in a reading slump I usually go for the silliest book in my shelf, but this... Wow, I feel like I should stand up and clap Emer!! Excellent review, I'm adding this to my TBR RIGHT NOW :)))))


Emer (A Little Haze) Reyes wrote: "When I'm in a reading slump I usually go for the silliest book in my shelf, but this... Wow, I feel like I should stand up and clap Emer!! Excellent review, I'm adding this to my TBR RIGHT NOW :)))))"

Haha well I was/am still in a kind of angry reading slump more than anything so I needed/still need to read books that make me feel "proper" feelings!!! And I love Chimamanda's writing so much. I haven't rated any of her novels less than five stars, an absolute rarity for me so I figured she was a good bet! Thank you Reyes, I hope you read something by her soon. Or just watch the YouTube video. Because it's essentially the same. It's just phrased slightly differently in places for reading :)))


message 8: by Christina (new)

Christina Fantastic review Emer!! Very thought provoking and I loved the quotes you used. I'll definitely be checking out the YouTube video, thank you for the link :))


Anne **all the applause in the universe** I couldn't find the words after reading this, Ems. I just couldn't >_< It was so adhering, so empowering. You don't need a neon signboard on your head to tell the whole world you're a feminist and you shouldn't give up pink nail polish and romcoms to get a point across. Feminism simply is. It doesn't need demonstration - I like this lesson from Chimamanda. And more importantly, her words on how and where to begin. Ahhhh I love it. I'm SO HAPPY EEEEEEEEEEEEEE. We should have a virtual pizza party :'D You actually read while in the throes of a reading slump. How many people do that? **cry laughing** Beautiful review, young one :))))


Ayesha So I am embracing my femininity, I am proud of who I am. I like to be girly; I like to wear dresses and floral perfumes. My favourite colour is pink, rom-coms are my favourite types of films….
And guess what??? I am also technically minded, I am a scientist, political and current affairs are highly important to me….
I can be ALL of these things!!!
I do not have to deny any aspect of my personality to fit in with some notion of what society says a woman should be, should do or should want.


*engulfs you in a panda hug*
OH MY GAWD, EMER! I LOVE YOU!Excuse the cheese but asdfghjkl zxcvbnm.
Ooooohhh I'm stealing these words for a banner. :) :) :)
Forgive me, Okay?


Emer (A Little Haze) Christina wrote: "Fantastic review Emer!! Very thought provoking and I loved the quotes you used. I'll definitely be checking out the YouTube video, thank you for the link :))"

Thank you so much Christina. I hope you do get a chance to check out the video :))) xox


Emer (A Little Haze) Anne wrote: "**all the applause in the universe** I couldn't find the words after reading this, Ems. I just couldn't >_< It was so adhering, so empowering. You don't need a neon signboard on your head to tell t..."

Aw thank you my sweet Anne. This was just so inspiring. So uplifting. So positive. So hopeful. I don't know how she always finds the right words, how she always brings important matters down to the every day, makes them so relatable... She is a truly skilled writer and speaker. And how could I not turn to Chimamanda when I was feeling the reading slump monster lurking all around me??? I knew I would find my way back through her words :)))) Xx


Emer (A Little Haze) Ayesha wrote: "So I am embracing my femininity, I am proud of who I am. I like to be girly; I like to wear dresses and floral perfumes. My favourite colour is pink, rom-coms are my favourite types of films….
And..."


Forgive you???? What for my dearest Ayesha??? You may run away with all my words as long as I get lots more hugs!! I LIKE HUGS AND CHEESE TOO!!!!! XD Aw I hope you get a chance to read this. Or just watch the YouTube video. It's only 30 minutes long and the time flies because she's so insightful and funny!!! WATCH IT :D :D :D <3


Fabian {Councillor} Such a really, really, really splendid review, Emer! All your points are very interesting and true. I am interested to read about her arguments and thoughts in her essay. Does the YouTube video include the entire text? (I haven't been able to find an eBook copy which doesn't cost ridiculously much, so it would be better for me to just listen to this version. :D)

I have to admit that although I am all for gender equality and support feminism, the word feminism is sometimes connected with a negative touch here in Germany, and that has a good reason. For example, several people have demanded an equal distribution of our German Ampelmännchen, 50% of those symbols male and 50% female. I just can't find any sense behind this, because what does an equal dispersion of those avail as long as the salary gap here is still one of the highest in Europe? People (or rather politicians) should focus on that problem rather than debating for years and years about the gender of traffic light symbols.


Emer (A Little Haze) Councillor wrote: "Such a really, really, really splendid review, Emer! All your points are very interesting and true. I am interested to read about her arguments and thoughts in her essay. Does the YouTube video inc..."

Exactly Fabian! Feminism and being a feminist so often has negative connotations. They are terms that have been often usurped by people looking to advance one viewpoint that isn't truly about equality. It's why for so many years I was actually quite opposed to it as a movement. I couldn't see the sense. It excluded men, it made it seem that to be a feminist you had to subscribe to this one way of being a woman.... And that changing the little traffic light man because it's somehow sexist.....good lord what a waste of taxpayers money that would be!!! People need to use their heads when it comes to picking their battles!! Crazy stuff... But in the last few years I got angry that I couldn't be a feminist and I just thought to heck with that!!! Being a feminist just means that I want equality. Let's just strip away everything else and that's what it comes down to. The YouTube video and the ebook are pretty much verbatim! In the video she mentions her brother and that isn't in the essay, there's more humour in the video too...just something that naturally happens when you are delivering a speech. So you will not miss out on anything if you just watch the video. I can guarantee you that.


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

Amazing review Emer ❤️


Emer (A Little Haze) Lizzie (Elizabeth) wrote: "Amazing review Emer ❤️"

Aw thank you so much Lizzie :)))) xox


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