sometimes witty book reviews
Year of publication: 2014
Found: While house sitting several months after Swedish Government’s announcement
Read time: Half an hour. Do it.
In 2015 Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie made headlines in Australia. Our media was fascinated by the fact that Sweden was making We Should All Be Feminists a prescribed text for every 16-year-old student. After her TEDx talk of the same title went viral in 2012, Adichie published the speech as a book. After excerpts of the video were sampled in Beyonce’s Flawless, Adichie’s little book rocketed into fame (not the first time for the author, her book Half of a Yellow Sun (2007) had been released as a Hollywood film in 2014). It can be read in under an hour and explains feminism in an simple, approachable and still powerful manner.
To me, Adichie is to our generation what bell hooks was to the the previous one. For a student of gender studies or feminist theory, what Adichie has to impart is nothing new. What Adichie does do with simple elegance and plain prose is to articulate the issues that even born-and-bred feminists often struggle to communicate to those not fluent in the sometimes highly specialised dialogue which pervades academic femism. For example:
Gender is not an easy conversation to have. It makes people uncomfortable, sometimes even irritable. Both men and women are resistant to talk about gender, or are quick to dismiss the problems of gender. Because thinking of changing the status quo is always uncomfortable.
But by far the worst thing we do to males—by making them feel they have to be hard—is that we leave them with very fragile egos. The harder a man feels compelled to be, the weaker his ego is.
I highly recommend this book to any male who feels intimidated by the word ‘feminist’ and especially those who honestly don’t quite know why; any young woman who is suddenly realising how utterly artificial her her life seems to be when feminism ‘clicks’; to every schoolkid with a reading age of 14 and up.
Reading suggestion: Read with attention. Do not drink that tea or eat that biscuit till you have finished.