Reading Journal : Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Feminist Manifesto on How to Raise a Child

In a 9000 worded letter to a friend who recently became a mother,Chimamanda,  gives her an  informative feminist manifesto in 15 suggestions on how to raise a child as a feminist. Her suggestions are not only limited to new mothers but something we can all relate to. 

For instance;

“ … Feminism is always contextual. I don’t have a set-in-stone rule ….

“…Your feminist premise should be: I matter. I matter equally. Not ‘if only.’ Not ‘as long as.’ I matter equally. Full stop.”

“Be a full person. Motherhood is a glorious gift, but do not define yourself solely by motherhood. Be a full person. Your child will benefit from that … reject the idea of motherhood and work as mutually exclusive.”

“…  be kind to yourself … There is no such thing as a Superwoman …Give yourself room to fail. Don’t assume that you should know everything … Let your focus be on remaining a full person. Take time for yourself. Nurture your own needs…”

“… So look away, arrest your perfectionism …”

“...‘gender roles’ is absolute nonsense. Do not ever tell her that she should do or not do something “because you are a girl.” ‘Because you are a girl’ is never a reason for anything. Ever….”

“We also need to question the idea of marriage as a prize to women, because that is the basis of these absurd debates. If we stop conditioning women to see marriage as a prize, then we would have fewer debates about a wife needing to cook in order to earn that prize.”

.Gender roles are so deeply conditioned in us that we will often follow them even when they chafe against our true desires, our needs, our well being. They are very difficult to unlearn … Instead of gender roles, teach her self-reliance … “

Beware the danger of what I call Feminism Lite. It is the idea of conditional female equality. Reject this entirely. It is a hollow, appeasing, and bankrupt idea. Being a feminist is like being pregnant. You either are or you are not. You either believe in the full equality of women, or you do not.”

“But here is a sad truth – our world is full of men and women who do not like powerful women. We have been so conditioned to think of power as male, that a powerful woman is an aberration.”  

“ question men who can have empathy for women only if they see them as relational rather than as individual equal humans.”

women actually don’t need to be championed and revered; they just need to be treated as equal human beings. There is a patronizing undertone to the idea … It makes me think of chivalry, and the premise of chivalry is female weakness.”

“…in a truly just society, women should not be expected to make marriage-based changes that men are not expected to make.”

“reject likeability…instead … be honest … to speak truthfully.”

“ … a sense of identity. It matters.”

“…  take pride in the history of Africans, and in the Black diaspora. Find black heroes, men and women, in history. They exist. You will have to counter some of the things she will learn in school …”

“ .. Don’t think that raising her feminist means forcing her to reject femininity. Feminism and femininity are not mutually exclusive. It is misogynistic to suggest that they are. Sadly, women have learned to be ashamed and apologetic about pursuits that are seen as traditionally female … But our society does not expect men to feel ashamed of pursuits considered generally male …”

“Never ever link appearance with morality … Because clothes have absolutely nothing to do with morality.”

“There are so many African women who are sources of feminist inspiration. Because of what they have done and because of what they have refused to do.”

“ … social norms are created by human beings, and there is no social norm that cannot be changed.”

“And there are many women in the world who do not like other women. Female misogyny exists …”  

“ … understand that people walk different paths in the world and that as long as those paths do no harm to others, they are valid paths that she must respect.”

“ … we do not know – we cannot know – everything about life.”

be full of opinions … that opinions will come from an informed, humane and broad-minded place.”

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