Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is an essay based on the author’s December 2012 TED talk. It is a short, quick read that packs a hefty punch. Using personal anecdotes of her experiences in her native Nigeria, as well as the experiences of herself and others in different parts of the world, Adichie deconstructs the word “feminism,” stripping it of its stigmatization while explaining its tenets in easy to understand, relatable terms. She exposes some of the ways sexism makes its ubiquitous presence felt in our everyday lives.

Adichie’s voice is not shrill or confrontational. She is engaging, non-threatening, and inclusive. She does not point fingers or assign blame but uses wit coupled with the eye of a keen observer to illuminate the ways and frequency in which women are marginalized. She appeals to all men to examine their words and actions through the prism of feminism to expose the possibility of underlying sexist assumptions. Her goal is to educate others by exposing the deleterious effects of sexism on society. She argues that strictly defined gender roles restrict both men and women into conforming to the expectations placed on them by society. The result is inauthentic selfhood. As examples, she offers women dressing and behaving in ways to garner acceptance; men suppressing emotions to appear manly.

Adichie aims to build bridges for a common cause that will benefit all. Although the ideas she expresses are not particularly groundbreaking, she should be credited for articulating the basic tenets of feminism and popularizing them through her TED talk and booklet. She does it in a manner that is non-threatening, engaging, logical, and one that is likely to win converts to the cause.

AuthorTamara Agha-Jaffar
CategoriesBook Review