A personal review of We Should All Be Feminists


     As I take my journey through life and enter different chapters of it, I find myself wanting to know more.  Sure I have learned a lot during my twenty-nine years of life, but there is always more to learn and in some cases re-learn.  
     Yes, I am familiar with the term feminism, but I was curious to see what other women had to say about it.  My sister raved about the author, Chimamanda Adichie, and to be quite honest, I remember her from one of Beyoncé's hit songs.  She spoke of feminism and how we should raise our daughters and sons.  This was an obvious choice for me, I had to read this book.  
     One night I made myself a cocktail, put the kids to bed, and cracked this baby open.  I don't really know what I was expecting, but I finished the book feeling so-so.  While I agreed with many points Adichie made, I also found myself disagreeing with some.  
     I would like to think that I consider myself a feminist and always have been.  I believe that all women should have the same rights as men and be respected the same in all facets of life.  My parents raised me to believe in myself and know that I could do anything just as well or better as anyone else including men.  Now, with that being said here I am twenty-nine years later married, a stay-at-home-mom with two children that cooks and cleans for my family everyday.  Am I still a feminist?
     Some would say yes, but I know for sure others would say no.  I am positive I would be looked at as a female that reverted back to the fifties and lessens herself for the bettering of her husband, but for me, that is complete bullshit.  
     While reading, I somehow got that impression.  There were examples given in her novel where she referenced her friends who were married and she felt as though they lessened themselves for their marriage.  
     "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 house-work, 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." (p. 37) 
     "Both men and women will say, 'I did it for peace in my marriage.'  When men say it, it is usually about something they should not be doing anyway.  Something they say to their friends in a fondly exasperated way, something that ultimately proves to them their masculinity- 'oh my wife said I can't go to clubs every night, so now, for peace in my marriage, I go only on weekends.'  When women say 'I did it for peace in my marriage,' it is usually because they have given up a job, a career goal, a dream.  We teach females that in relationships, compromise is what a woman is more likely to do." (P. 31)
     This, for me, was a little outrageous.  I didn't see it as questioning feminism, but as judging someone's marriage and perpetuating a stereotype.  I know plenty of men, who have declined jobs because it would keep them away from their families even more than they already are.  Now, I know she is speaking as a woman who grew up in Nigeria and I know that their culture is different from American culture, but I hear American women making the same claims.  While I am not saying that this does not exist, I also think that we are diluting the definition of feminism.  What a woman decides to do for or in her marriage is feminism because she has the choice!  Right?  We are not in the era of arranged marriages (in America) where our families raffle us off to the most eligible bachelor.  We have the choice, as women, to change all of the diapers and we have a choice to quit our careers.  We also have the choice to raise a child on our own without the help of a male counterpart.  We have a choice to decide to focus on a career and not build a family.  The magic word here is CHOICE.
     For me, I believe judgement from others is going to happen regardless.  I am judged for stopping my coaching career and packing up to travel the world with my family while my husband works.  Others are judged for being over an "age-bearing age" and not having children.    
     A lot of the uncertainty is from confidence.  We as women may feel if we are unmarried by a certain age inadequate and while it may be internalization of socialization, it is also self-confidence.  I cannot count how many Instagram posts I see saying F* society or I am me no matter what.  Are we just saying this or are we really believing it?  There are women showing their bodies and portrayed as sex symbols, well at least there are on my timeline.  So what are we fussing about?  I think our view of feminism has been diluted and we need to hone in on what are are really talking about.  Equal pay, equal job opportunities, the right to decide if we will carry a fetus full term or not, and the ability to live and do what we please.  That is why I consider myself a feminist.
      I really appreciate this book because it makes you have a conversation about our society, women, and how we are rearing our youth.  I absolutely agree with her point that we need to raise our daughters to be competitive in education or sports, but not for men.  I mentioned this to my husband because I could not believe that mothers actually instilled this in their daughters.  It was beyond me, but he looked at me and was surprised that I didn't already know.   For me, I plan on raising my daughter how I was raised.  While I may teach her to be aggressive and her own woman, I am pretty sure I will also teach her that saving herself for someone who is worthy of her is sexy and she does not have to conform to society's norm to fit in.  I am almost positive I will be telling her to "cover up" because I want her to know that her gorgeous body is not all she has to offer and everyone does not deserve to see that.  And for my son, he needs to respect all people.  I do agree with her point that masculinity does not need to coincide with how much money you make.  Instead, of that, I hope his work ethic (which we will nurture) will be the source of his masculinity.  While I want him to marry someone who is just as capable of earning a living like him, I want him to be able to take care of his family, in case his wife decides she wants to stay at home.

 I can't wait to read her novel, Americanah!  After I finish Assata: an Autobiography, it will be my next read.
   
Please click the links below to find out more on the author and her book.

Author's website

We Should All Be Feminists video

Beyoncé's Flawless video

Comments

  1. Maximize your potential, opportunity, personal self esteem, and passion while embracing and demanding your inherent equality.

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  2. I grew up in a time when the "N" word was a racial epithet; however, hip hop had turned it into a term of endearment. For me a feminist is a female that exercises her ability to lift and encourage other women. Judgement by others is not recognized in her agenda. Whether you're a homemaker or business woman a true feminist is always strategizing for empowerment for all women.

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