Dear Ijeawele – A Feminist manifesto in fifteen suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“My hope for Chizalum is this: she will be full of opinions, and that her opinions will come from an informed, humane and broad-minded place.”

I wanted to read this book as I am always fully engaged whenever I’m watching a Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talk online, or whenever reading one of her books.

A lot of the females in my life have often cited her as their inspiration and someone who they admire.

Feminism split by race?

In the book ‘Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race’, the author, Reni Eddo Lodge spoke about the need to understand that feminism is also split by race. When discussing feminism, we must also consider that the black woman experience is different to a white woman’s experience.

This split between black feminism and white feminism, has racial origin. When Emmeline Pankhurst visited the United States in 1913, she asked her “To free women just as they had already freed the Negro” 

Dr Laura Schwartz describes this as a shallow and opportunistic comparison between the oppression of (white) women and the enslavement of people of colour, while also ignoring the continued exploitation and oppression of Black people in the United States under the Jim Crow laws.

I wanted to get further insight to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s feminist ideals. The book is based on a letter the author writes to her friend who lives in Nigeria. So when reading, one must consider the cultural differences and references.

Cultural references such as ‘If a room full of men are discussing women, they would only talk about them in flippant terms.’ I would like to think that men are becoming more attuned in discussing feelings and I would like to say that we are evolving 😉 But let me not be too defensive in this book review, as I can understand where she is coming from.

As this book is a letter that she wrote to her friend, she writes very openly, expressing strong views, as you would to a close friend. Views such as, ‘in a truly feminist society, the female should be able to propose to the male’. 

Are we stuck in tradition?

I love the thought of people going against tradition and doing things the way which feels right to them. On the other hand, whenever I think about marriage, I’ve never thought of an instance when I’m not the one who is proposing!

Another point in the manifesto, when talking about marriage, Adichie mentions that the female should be given the option to keep her surname and the male takes her surname. Or even that the couple could decide on a new surname altogether.

Although things have moved on a fair bit in the UK, and to some it is no longer a ‘thing’ if the female wants to keep her surname, or opting to have a double barreled surname. I still believe that there are traditionalists who wouldn’t even entertain this prospect. 

Admittedly, I tend to pick and choose which traditionalist values I uphold. My preference would be for me to propose and my resulting wife to take my surname. But I wouldn’t call myself traditional at all, because if there is a wasp or spider anywhere near me, traditionally, my mum has always handled those!

Adichie mentions how not all females are feminists and some don’t look to raise up other women. It’s also worth noting that although she speaks generally about men in the book, she also notes that not all men are misogynists… phew!

Let me know your thoughts on the book and my review in the comments. Please check out my other book reviews here.

Stay Adept!

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