Today sees the release of We Should All Be Feminists, the captivating, forthright and truly inspirational essay from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, based on her 2013 TEDx Talk of the same name.
‘…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: I must have read every single Mills & Boon romance published before I was sixteen. And each time I try to read those books called ‘classic feminist texts’, I get bored, and I struggle to finish them.) 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. Of course much of this was tongue-incheek, but what it shows is 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 humour, you don’t use deodorant.’
In 2007, Chimamanda won the Orange Prize for fiction with Half of a Yellow Sun, recently adapted for the big screen. The novel, set in Nigeria during the 1960s, is both an unforgettable read and a true modern classic, documenting the lives of three characters who find themselves swept up in the violence of the turbulent years of the Nigerian Civil War. At the ceremony, Chimamanda wore a beautiful headwrap; so memorable was this scarf that seven years later, when Adichie’s publicist Michelle Kane briefed Julian Humphries, the designer of the cover of We Should All be Feminists, it was the first thing that sprang to mind.
It really is as simple as that.
We Should All be Feminists is out now
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