Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Book Review: We Should All Be Feminists

I haven't done a book review here on the blog in a LONG time, but I recently read We Should All Be Feminists by my woman crush Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and I wanted to take a moment to really appreciate this piece the way it deserves to be appreciated! I absolutely loved this essay and continue to fall into deep admiration of Adichie every time I come across her work. Keep reading for a glimpse into this work and my thoughts on it!

We Should All Be Feminists is an essay based on a TEDTalk that Adichie gave in 2012 of the same name. In this essay, Adichie tackles the subject of feminism in the 21st century, from its societal perception and stigma, what it means to identify as a feminist, the benefits of feminism for society and the societal harms of stifling the feminist movement. Adichie presents these ideas in such a brilliant and concise way and in language that is accessible for readers of a wide range of levels. This essay is a very quick 48 pages (I believe it took me a total of 40 or so minutes to read from cover to cover) and covers such an important topic in a way that anyone can read and learn from it and if I could afford it I would totally buy tons of copies of this essay and hand them out to everyone.

Though this TEDTalk was originally given in 2012 and this essay was originally published in 2014, the concepts still translate and are culturally relevant in our society, especially everything that has occurred around our country's election cycle this year. This quote in particular stood out to me:

"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. 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."

In our society, we are taught that it's not okay to be angry. It's not okay to raise our voice. It's not okay to feel our feelings and let our emotions drive us to bring change. Anger = bad. Emotions = bad. Accept the status quo and everything will work itself out in the end. This is one of the most frustrating things that those who see injustice in the world and want to make a change have to unlearn. It is an act of bravery to stand up an express your displeasure with what you see as an injustice in our world because you open yourself up to so much criticism from everyone in your life. This goes for not just topics of gender and feminism, but for everything. This is why it's scary for people to speak out. This is why it's easier to sit in silence and accept the status quo, ESPECIALLY when you're in a position of privilege (what's up white people, men, straight folks, cisgender friends, etc. etc. etc.) and it makes it that much more important to express your anger and concern for the state of our society. Silence won't change anything. Expressing ourselves and standing up for the change we want to see in the world will.

This essay is filled with wonderful bits just like this and while it may be easy for someone like me who discusses feminism and issues of social justice as a part of my every day life, this work is also a great stepping stone for someone who is new to the concept of feminism or might not fully understand what it is or why this concept exists, without dragging you through the history of women's rights that a lot of us are familiar with. It's a modern view on why feminism (and fighting for equal right for all people in general) is a benefit for everyone in our society which makes this a great entry way to further discussion on the topic.

To end, I wanted to leave the actual definition of feminism, as it gets so misconstrued so frequently:

noun fem·i·nism | \ˈfe-mə-ˌni-zəm\

1 : the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
2 : organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests

Of course, I whole heartedly recommend this book to readers everywhere. It's a book that will make you think critically, see the world from a perspective you may not have experienced, and understand your place in fighting against the injustices in our society, something I'm a huge advocate for. Definitely pick this up whenever you get the chance for something that will make you feel inspired and empowered!

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