We Should All be Feminists -Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2012)


A book based upon Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk, this was a short but powerful read about a topic that’s been pivotal in world issues for more than a century now. Feminism remains an important subject, but why – even now – is it still an issue that needs to be discussed? You’d think that since we are now in the 21st century that equal pay for equal work, the right to vote, et al. would be old news, but the fact remains that it’s not for a large part of the world around us.

Why does it still warrant special focus for a huge part of the world’s population either through being affected by it (as women) or through being the other half of the human race?

Enough about how things still need to evolve. This title is a quick read and a good reminder of how far we’ve come in some nations (like most of the Western countries) and how far it has to go in others (such as in Nigeria, the author’s home country).

It also discusses how the term “feminism” may be viewed by different people. For some in the Millennial generation (at least in my own experience), I’ve heard it argued that we don’t “need” feminism any more and/or the old saw of being a feminist means being a men-hater braless radical stuck in the 70’s.

I am curious if perhaps some of these perspectives may stem from the “familiarity breeds contempt” philosophy in that some of these young adults have always had the right to vote, the right to have a career (or not), to control the size of their family etc.

And, interestingly enough, the book discusses the argument of “Why women’s rights? Why not human rights?” When I first read it, I was taken aback – why not human rights? But after putting some thought into this and when you parse it down, they are still two different things and it ends up comparing apples to oranges. True – there is some overlap between the two, but at the foundation, they are very separate issues. It would be brilliant if everybody across the planet had the same rights and we all lived in this perfect world.

Unfortunately, we don’t so I think that when more than half of the world’s population is affected by these challenges, it’s important. It’s also critical to remember that there are still a lot of countries wherein women don’t have even the most basic of rights: voting, property ownership, birth control, the right to not get beaten up, the right not to become actual property herself (i.e. “belong” to her father, brother, husband, cousin…)

As you can tell, this is something that I’m passionate about. My philosophy is along the lines of “If someone died to give you this right, then you should appreciate the sacrifice and engage in that right” (i.e. voting for women and disenfranchised groups etc.). And yet so many people don’t engage in that right. Everyone has an opinion on the current political candidates, and yet our city (pretty comparable to other mid-sized cities in the US) only had a 15% voter turnout last year. My own belief is that if you choose not to vote, then you have lost the credibility to gripe about our political system

We have a state university here with about 36,000 students, and yet voting figures are even lower than the community standards with only about 10% casting their ballots. College students are a weird group though – they may never have voted before (too young), they might not know how to actually vote, their friends might not vote (and this population is very focused on peer behavior), they might not feel connected to either local or state politics, it’s not important to them…

The list of excuses can be long, but how to address those excuses? It will be really interesting to see if anything’s different in the 2016 presidential elections later in the year in the US.

So, back to the book and off the soapbox. This was a provocative read and I enjoyed being challenged to think more deeply on the issues. A good read which led to more thinking – always a good thing in my book.

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