Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of my favourite African women of all time and she speaks with so much wisdom that I often go back to this video and another one called The Danger of A Single Story to remind myself that there is nothing wrong with being a woman with high expectations and big dreams.
She is also the author of Half of a Yellow Sun, Purple Hibiscus and Americanah. If you have not read any of the books mentioned then you are truly missing out on great literature. I have yet to acquire a copy of Americanah but it is on my reading list.
In this TED talk, she speaks of her experience of being made to feel inferior to men, as a child, as an adolescent and as a woman. She says, ‘This is how we start; we must raise our daughters differently, we must also raise our sons differently. We do a great disservice to boys in how we raise them. We stifle the humanity of boys. We define masculinity in a very narrow way. Masculinity becomes this hard small cage, and we put boys inside the cage. We teach boys to be afraid of fear, we teach boys to be afraid of weakness, of vulnerability. We teach them to mask their true selves because they have to be (Nigeria speak) HARD MAN!’
On men being intimidated by our desire to fight for our rights, further our education she says: ‘a man who is intimidated by me is exactly the kind of man that I would have no interest in!’
On girl education she says: We teach girls shame. Close your legs! Cover yourself! We make them feel as though by being born female they are already guilty of something. And so girls grow up to be women who cannot say they have desire, they grow up to be women who silence themselves, they grow up to be women who cannot say what they truly think. And they grow up … and this is the worst thing we do to girls, they grow up to be women who have turned pretense into an art form.
I don’t know about you ladies but I am ready to start converting the men around me to feminism. Feminism is not how society has worked hard to label it as, it is not about refusing to marry and have children, it is not about going braless, not wearing make-up and having a box-cut, neither is it about refusing help from men and seeing them as the enemy. Not at all. Feminism is about appreciating the woman and what she has the ability to do with her body, her mind, and her soul. Feminism is about you and me, making choices that are fine by us, not by society’s standards. Feminism is about allowing the woman to express herself. It is about men understanding that womanhood is just as strong as manhood. I am not talking about physical strength, I am talking about spiritual and mental strength. It is about a woman’s strength not being described as that of 100 men. No! Would a man’s strength be compared to that of a 100 women? No! Let a woman’s strength be her own, she was born with it and she nurtured it through life experiences.
I am ready to be the powerful woman that I was born to be, so I am putting on my red lipstick and Louboutins and sashaying my way to the top! If my feminism bothers you so much, then you might as well join the party. There is space for you, you, you, and you! So let’s get moving!