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Must Read! Chimamanda Adichie’s New Piece “Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions”

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Days after Chimamanda Adichie revealed in a publication that her feminism varies from Beyoncé’s, she has written a ‘Feminist Manifesto’ on how to Raise a Child.

On her official Facebook page, Chimamanda gives a series of fifteen suggestions and commandments that every parent needs to raise a little feminist.

Here’s what she said:

Dear Ijeawele,

What joy. And what lovely names: Chizalum Adaora. She is so beautiful. Only a day old and she already looks curious about the world. Your note made me cry. You know how I get foolishly emotional sometimes. Please know that I take your charge – how to raise her feminist – very seriously. And I understand what you mean by not always knowing what the feminist response to situations should be. For me, feminism is always contextual. I don’t have a set-in-stone rule; the closest I have to a formula are my two ‘Feminist Tools’ and I want to share them with you as a starting point.

The first is your premise, the solid unbending belief that you start off with. What is your premise? Your feminist premise should be: I matter. I matter equally. Not ‘if only.’ Not ‘as long as.’ I matter equally. Full stop.

The second tool is a question: can you reverse X and get the same results?

For example: many people believe that a woman’s feminist response to a husband’s infidelity should be to leave. But I think staying can also be a feminist choice, depending on the context. If Chudi sleeps with another woman and you forgive him, would the same be true if you slept with another man? If the answer is yes then your choosing to forgive him can be a feminist choice because it is not shaped by a gender inequality. Sadly, the reality in most marriages is that the answer to that question would often be no, and the reason would be gender-based – that absurd idea of ‘men will be men.’

I have some suggestions for how to raise Chizalum. But remember that you might do all the things I suggest, and she will still turn out to be different from what you hoped, because sometimes life just does its thing. What matters is that you try. And always trust your instincts, above all else, because you will be guided by your love for your child.

Here are my suggestions:

1. First Suggestion: 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. The pioneering American journalist Marlene Sanders once said to a younger journalist, “Never apologize for working. You love what you do, and loving what you do is a great gift to give your child.”

You don’t even have to love your job; you can merely love what your job does for you – the confidence and self-fulfillment that come with doing and earning. Reject the idea of motherhood and work as mutually exclusive. Our mothers worked full time while we were growing up, and we turned out well – at least you did, the jury is still out on me.

It doesn’t surprise me that your sister-in-law says you should be a ‘traditional’ mother and stay home, that Chudi can afford not to have a ‘double income’ family.
People will selectively use ‘tradition’ to justify anything. Tell her that a double-income family is actually the true Igbo tradition because in pre-colonial times, mothers farmed and traded. And then please ignore her; there are more important things to think about.

In these coming weeks of early motherhood, be kind to yourself. Ask for help. Expect to be helped. There is no such thing as a Superwoman. Parenting is about practice – and love. (I do wish though that ‘parent’ had not been turned into a verb, which I think is the root of the middle-class phenomenon of ‘parenting’ as one endless, anxious journey of guilt).

Give yourself room to fail. A new mother does not necessarily know how to calm a crying baby. Don’t assume that you should know everything. Look things up on the Internet, read books, ask older parents, or just do trial and error. Let your focus be on remaining a full person. Take time for yourself. Nurture your own needs.

Please do not think of it as ‘doing it all.’ Our culture lauds the idea of women who are able to ‘do it all’ but does not question the premise of that praise. I have no interest in the debate about women ‘doing it all’ because it is a debate that assumes that care-giving and domestic work are exclusively female domains, an idea that I strongly reject. Domestic work and care-giving should be gender-neutral, and we should be asking not whether a woman can ‘do it all’ but how best to support parents in their dual duties at work and at home.

2. Second Suggestion: Do it together. Remember in primary school we learnt that a verb was a ‘doing’ word? Well, a father is as much a verb as a mother. Chudi should do everything that biology allows – which is everything but breastfeeding. Sometimes mothers, so conditioned to be all and do all, are complicit in diminishing the role of fathers. You might think that Chudi will not bathe her exactly as you’d like, that he might not wipe her bum as perfectly as you do. But so what? What is the worst that can happen? She won’t die at the hands of her father. So look away, arrest your perfectionism, still your socially-conditioned sense of duty. Share childcare equally. ‘Equally’ of course depends on you both. It does not have to mean a literal fifty-fifty or a day-by-day score-keeping but you’ll know when the child-care work is equally shared. You’ll know by your lack of resentment. Because when there is true equality, resentment does not exist.

And please reject the language of help. Chudi is not ‘helping’ you by caring for his child. He is doing what he should. When we say fathers are ‘helping,’ we are suggesting that childcare is a mother’s territory, into which fathers valiantly venture. It is not. Can you imagine how many more people today would be happier, more stable, better contributors to the world, if only their fathers had been actively present in their childhood? And never say that Chudi is ‘babysitting’ – people who babysit are people for whom the baby is not a primary responsibility.

Chudi does not deserve any special gratitude or praise, nor do you – you both made the choice to bring a child into the world, and the responsibility for that child belongs equally to you both. It would be different if you were a single mother, whether by circumstance or choice, because ‘doing it together’ would then not be an option. But you should not be a ‘single mother’ unless you are truly a single mother.

My friend Nwabu once told me that, because his wife left when his kids were young, he became ‘Mr. Mom,’ by which he meant that he did the daily care-giving. But he was not being a ‘Mr. Mom,’ he was simply being a dad.

3. Third Suggestion: Teach her that ‘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.

I remember being told as a child to ‘bend down properly while sweeping, like a girl.’ Which meant that sweeping was about being female. I wish I had been told simply ‘bend down and sweep properly because you’ll clean the floor better.’ And I wish my brothers had been told the same thing.

There have been recent Nigerian social media debates about women and cooking, about how wives have to cook for husbands. It is funny, in the way that sad things are funny, that in 2016 we are still talking about cooking as some kind of ‘marriageability test’ for women.

The knowledge of cooking does not come pre-installed in a vagina. Cooking is learned. Cooking – domestic work in general – is a life skill that both men and women should ideally have. It is also a skill that can elude both men and women.

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.

It is interesting to me how early the world starts to invent gender roles. Yesterday I went to a children’s shop to buy Chizalum an outfit. In the girls’ section were pale phenomena in washed-out shades of pink. I disliked them. The boys’ section had outfits in vibrant shades of blue. Because I think blue will be adorable against her brown skin – and photograph better – I bought one. At the check out counter, the cashier said mine was the perfect present for the new boy. I said it was for a baby girl. She looked horrified. “Blue for a girl?”

I cannot help but wonder about the clever marketing person who invented this pink-blue binary. There was also a ‘gender neutral’ section, with its array of bloodless grays. ‘Gender neutral’ is silly because it is premised on the idea of male being blue and female being pink and ‘gender neutral’ being its own category. Why not just have baby clothes organized by age and displayed in all colors? The bodies of male and female infants are similar, after all.

I looked at the toy section, also arranged by gender. Toys for boys are mostly active, and involve some sort of ‘doing’ – trains, cars – and toys for girls are mostly ‘passive’ and are overwhelmingly dolls. I was struck by how early our culture starts to form the ideas of what a boy should be and what a girl should be.

Did I ever tell you about going to a US mall with a seven-year-old Nigerian girl and her mother? She saw a toy helicopter, one of those things that fly by wireless remote control, and she was fascinated and asked for one. “No,” her mother said. “You have your dolls.” And she responded, “Mummy, is it only doll I will play with?”
I have never forgotten that. Her mother meant well, obviously. She was well-versed in the ideas of gender roles – that girls play with dolls and boys with cars. I wonder now, wistfully, if the little girl would have turned out to be a revolutionary engineer, had she been given a chance to explore that helicopter.

If we don’t place the straitjacket of gender roles on young children we give them space to reach their full potential. Please see Chizalum as an individual. Not as a girl who should be a certain way. See her weaknesses and her strengths in an individual way. Do not measure her on a scale of what a girl should be. Measure her on a scale of being the best version of herself.

A young woman once told me that she had for years behaved ‘like a boy’ – she liked football and was bored by dresses – until her mother forced her to stop her ‘boyish’ interests and she is now grateful to her mother for helping her start behaving like a girl. The story made me sad. I wondered what parts of herself she had needed to silence and stifle, and I wondered about what her spirit had lost, because what she called ‘behaving like a boy’ was simply that she was behaving like herself.

Another acquaintance once told me that when she took her one-year-old son to a baby play group, where babies had been brought by their mothers, she noticed that the mothers of baby girls were very restraining, constantly telling the girls ‘don’t touch’ or ‘stop and be nice,’ and she noticed that the baby boys were encouraged to explore more and were not restrained as much and were almost never told to ‘be nice.’ Her theory is that parents unconsciously start very early to teach girls how to be, that baby girls are given more rules and less room and baby boys more room and fewer rules.

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 wellbeing. They are very difficult to unlearn, and so it is important to try and make sure that Chizalum rejects them from the beginning. Instead of gender roles, teach her self-reliance. Tell her that it is important to be able to do for herself and fend for herself. Teach her to try and fix physical things when they break. We are quick to assume girls can’t do many things. Let her try. Buy her toys like blocks and trains – and dolls, too, if you want to.

4. Fourth Suggestion: 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.

Here are some examples of Feminism Lite:
A woman should be ambitious, but not too much. A woman can be successful but she should also do her domestic duties and cook for her husband. A woman should have her own but she should not forget her true role as home keeper. Of course a woman should have a job but the man is still head of the family.

Feminism Lite uses inane analogies like ‘he is the head and you are the neck.’ Or ‘he is driving but you are in the front seat.’ More troubling is the idea, in Feminism Lite, that men are naturally superior but should be expected to ‘treat women well.’ No. No. No. There must be more than male benevolence as the basis for a woman’s wellbeing.

Feminism Lite uses the language of ‘allowing.’ Theresa May is the British Prime Minister and here is how a progressive British newspaper described her husband: ‘Philip May is known in politics as a man who has taken a back seat and allowed his wife, Theresa, to shine.’
Allowed.
Now let us reverse it. Theresa May has allowed her husband to shine. Does it make sense? If Philip May were Prime Minister, perhaps we might hear that his wife has ‘supported’ him from the background, or that she is ‘behind’ him, but we would never hear that she had ‘allowed’ him to shine.
Allow is a troubling word. Allow is about power. Members of the society of Feminism Lite will often say, “Leave the woman alone to do what she wants as long as her husband allows.”
A husband is not a headmaster. A wife is not a schoolgirl. Permission and being allowed, when used one sided – and it is nearly only used that way – should never be the language of an equal marriage.
Another egregious example of Feminism Lite: men who say ‘Of course a wife does not always have to do the domestic work, I did domestic work when my wife travelled.’

Do you remember how we laughed and laughed at an atrociously-written piece about me some years ago? The writer – a man small in more ways than one – had accused me of being ‘angry,’ as though ‘being angry’ was something for which to be ashamed. Of course I am angry. I am angry about racism. I am angry about sexism. But I am angrier about sexism than I am about racism. Because I live among many people who easily acknowledge race injustice but not gender injustice.

I cannot tell you how often people I care about – men and women – have expected me to make a case for sexism, to ‘prove’ it, as it were, while never having the same expectation for racism (Obviously in the wider world, too many people are still expected to ‘prove’ racism, but not in my close circle). I cannot tell you how often people I care about have dismissed or diminished sexist situations.

Like Ikenga who once said ‘even though the general idea is that my father is in charge at our home, it’s my mother who is really in charge behind the scenes.’ He thought he was refuting sexism, but he was making my case. Why ‘behind the scenes?’ If a woman has power then why do we need to disguise that she has power?
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. And so she is policed. We ask of powerful women – is she humble? Does she smile? Is she grateful enough? Does she have a domestic side? We judge powerful women more harshly than we judge powerful men. And Feminism Lite enables this.

5. Fifth Suggestion: Teach Chizalum to read. Teach her to love books. The best way is by casual example. If she sees you reading, she will understand that reading is valuable. If she were not to go to school, and merely just read books, she would arguably become more knowledgeable than a conventionally educated child. Books will help her understand and question the world, help her express herself, and help her in whatever she wants to become – a chef, a scientist, a singer all benefit from the skills that reading brings. I do not mean school books. I mean books that have nothing to do with school, autobiographies and novels and histories. If all else fails, pay her to read. Reward her. I know of this incredible Nigerian woman who was raising her child in the US; her child did not take to reading so she decided to pay her 5 cents per page. An expensive endeavor, she later joked, but a worthy investment.

6. Sixth Suggestion: Teach her to question language. Language is the repository of our prejudices, our beliefs, our assumptions. But to teach her that, you will have to question your own language. A friend of mine says she will never call her daughter ‘Princess.’ People mean well when they say this, but ‘princess’ is loaded with assumptions, of her delicacy, of the prince who will come to save her, etc. This friend prefers ‘angel’ and ‘star.’

So decide for yourself the things you will not say to your child. Because what you say to your child matters. It teaches her what she should value. You know that Igbo joke, used to tease girls who are being childish – “What are you doing? Don’t you know you are old enough to find a husband?” I used to say that often. But now I choose not to. I say ‘you are old enough to find a job.’ Because I do not believe that marriage is something we should teach young girls to aspire to.

I no longer say ‘she had a child FOR him.’ I say ‘she had a child WITH him.’ And I bristle when I hear a man say ‘she is carrying my child.’ ‘Our child’ just sounds better, more accurate too.

Try not to use words like ‘misogyny’ and ‘patriarchy’ too often with Chizalum. We Feminists can sometimes be too jargony, and jargon can sometimes feel too abstract. Don’t just label something misogynistic, tell her why it is, and tell her what would make it not be.

Use examples. Teach her that if you criticize X in women but do not criticize X in men, then you do not have a problem with X, you have a problem with women. For X please insert inter alia: anger, loudness, stubbornness, coldness, ruthlessness.

Teach her to ask questions like: What are the things that women cannot do because they are women? Do these things have cultural prestige? If so why are only men allowed to do the things that have cultural prestige?

Use examples from the news. Two Nigerian senators quarrel publicly. The woman calls the man a bastard, and the man tells the woman that he will rape her. The man is sexist because he has not insulted her as an individual, but as a generic female and this is dehumanizing. He should have called her a bastard too. Or an asshole. Or so many other things that are not about her being a generic woman.

Remember that television commercial we watched in Lagos, where a man cooks and his wife claps for him? True progress is when she doesn’t clap for him but just reacts to the food itself – she can either praise the food or not praise the food, just as he can praise hers or not praise hers, but what is sexist is that she is praising the fact that he has undertaken the act of cooking, praise that implies that cooking is an inherently female act.

Remember the mechanic in Lagos who was described as a ‘lady mechanic?’ Teach Chizalum that the woman is a mechanic not a ‘lady mechanic.’

Point out to her how wrong it is that a man who hits your car, gets out and tells you to go and bring your husband because he can’t “deal with a woman”.

Instead of merely telling her, show her with examples that misogyny can be overt and misogyny can be subtle and that both are abhorrent.

Teach her to question men who can have empathy for women only if they see them as relational rather than as individual equal humans. Men who, when discussing rape, will always say something like ‘if it were my daughter or wife or sister.’ Yet such men do not need to imagine a male victim of crime ‘as a brother or son’ in order to feel empathy. Teach her, too, to question the idea of women as a special species. The American House Speaker Paul Ryan who was recently reacting to the Republican presidential nominee’s boast about assaulting women, said, “Women are to be championed and revered, not objectified.”
Tell Chizalum that 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 of women needing to be ‘championed and revered’ because they are women. It makes me think of chivalry, and the premise of chivalry is female weakness.

7. Seventh Suggestion: Never speak of marriage as an achievement. Find ways to make clear to her that marriage is not an achievement nor is it what she should aspire to. A marriage can be happy or unhappy but it is not an achievement.

We condition girls to aspire to marriage and we do not condition boys to aspire to marriage, and so there is already a terrible imbalance at the start. The girls will grow up to be women obsessed with marriage. The boys will grow up to be men who are not obsessed with marriage. The women marry those men. The relationship is automatically uneven because the institution matters more to one than the other. Is it any wonder that, in so many marriages, women sacrifice more, at a loss to themselves, because they have to constantly maintain an uneven exchange? (One consequence of this imbalance is the very shabby and very familiar phenomenon of two women publicly fighting over a man, while the man remains silent.)

Hillary Clinton will be the next president of the United States. On her Twitter account, the first descriptor is ‘Wife.’ The first descriptor on her husband Bill Clinton’s Twitter account is not ‘Husband.’ (Because of this, I have an unreasonable respect for the very few men who use ‘husband’ as their first descriptor)
My sense is that this is not a reflection on Hillary Clinton personally but on the world in which we live, a world that still largely values a woman’s marital and maternal roles more than anything else.

After she married Bill Clinton in 1975, Hillary Clinton kept her name, Hillary Rodham. Eventually she began to add his name ‘Clinton’ to hers and then after a while she dropped ‘Rodham’ because of political pressure – because her husband would lose voters who were offended that his wife had kept her name. American voters apparently place retrograde marital expectations on women.

Do you remember all the noise that was made after a newspaper journalist decided to give me a new name and call ‘Mrs. Husband’s Surname’ and I promptly told him never to do that again?

I remember how some members of the Society of Ill-Willed Nigerian Commenters insisted on calling me Mrs. Husband’s Name even after I had made clear that it was not my name. Many more women than men did this, by the way. And there was a smoldering hostility from women in particular. I wondered about that, and thought that perhaps for many of them, my choice represented a challenge to their largely-unquestioned idea of what is the norm. Even some friends made statements like ‘you are successful and so it is okay to keep your name.’
Which made me wonder – why does a woman have to be successful at work in order to justify keeping her name?

The truth is that I have not kept my name because I am successful. Had I not had the good fortune to be published and widely-read, I would still have kept my name. I have kept my name because it is my name. I have kept my name because I like my name.

There are people who say – well your name is also about patriarchy because it is your father’s name. Indeed. But the point is simply this: whether it came from my father or from the moon, it is the name that I have had since I was born, the name with which I travelled my life’s milestones, the name I have answered to since that first day I went to kindergarten on a hazy morning and my teacher said ‘answer ‘present’ if you hear your name. Number one: Adichie!’

I like it and will not change it. More importantly, every woman should have that choice. How many men do you think would be willing to change their name on getting married?

As for titles, I dislike the title of ‘Mrs.’ because I think Nigerian society gives it too much value – I have observed too many cases of men and women who loudly and proudly speak of the title of Mrs. as though those who are not Mrs have somehow failed at something. Mrs can be a choice, but to infuse it with so much value as our culture does is disturbing. The value we give to Mrs. means that marriage changes the social status of a woman but not of a man. (Is that perhaps why many women complain of married men still ‘acting’ as though they were single? Perhaps if our society asked married men to change their names and take on a new title, different from MR, their behavior might change as well? Ha!) But more seriously, if you, a 28-year-old Masters degree holder, go overnight from Ijeawele Ude to Mrs. Ijeawele Onyekailodibe, surely it requires not just the mental energy of changing passports and licenses but also a psychic change, a new ‘becoming?’ This new ‘becoming’ would not matter so much if men, too, had to undergo it.

Still on titles, I like Ms because it is similar to Mr. A man is Mr whether married or not, a woman is Ms whether married or not. So please teach Chizalum that in a truly just society, women should not be expected to make marriage-based changes that men are not expected to make. Here’s a nifty solution – each couple that marries should take on an entirely new surname, chosen however they want to as long as both agree to it, so that a day after the wedding, both husband and wife can hold hands and joyfully journey off to the municipal offices to change their passports, drivers licenses, signatures, initials, bank accounts, etc.

8. Eighth Suggestion: Teach her to reject likeability. Her job is not to make herself likeable, her job is to be her full self, a self that is honest and aware of the equal humanity of other people. Remember I told you how infuriating it was to me that Chioma would often tell me that ‘people’ would not ‘like’ something I wanted to say or do. It upset me because I felt, from her, the unspoken pressure to change myself to fit some mold that would please an amorphous entity called ‘people.’ It was upsetting because we want those close to us to encourage us to be our most authentic selves.

Please do not ever put this pressure on your daughter. We teach girls to be likeable, to be nice, to be false. And we do not teach boys the same. This is dangerous. Many sexual predators have capitalized on this. Many girls remain silent when abused because they want to be nice. Many girls spend too much time trying to be ‘nice’ to people who do them harm. Many girls think of the ‘feelings’ of those who are hurting them. This is the catastrophic consequence of likeability. At a recent rape trial, the woman raped by a man said that she did not want to ‘cause conflict.’ We have a world full of women who are unable fully to exhale because they have for so long been conditioned to fold themselves into shapes to make themselves likeable.

So instead of teaching Chizalum to be likeable, teach her to be honest. And kind.
And brave. Encourage her to speak her mind, to say what she really thinks, to speak truthfully. And then praise her when she does. Praise her especially when she takes a stand that is difficult or unpopular because it happens to be her honest position. Tell her that kindness matters. Praise her when she is kind to other people. But teach her that her kindness must never be taken for granted. Tell her that she too deserves the kindness of others. Teach her to stand for what is hers. If another child takes her toy without her permission, ask her to take it back. Tell her that if anything ever makes her uncomfortable, to speak up, to say, to shout.

Show her that she does not need to be liked by everyone. Tell her that if someone does not like her, there will be someone who will. Teach her that she is not merely an object to be liked or disliked, she is also a subject who can like or dislike. In her teenage years, if she comes home crying about some boys who don’t like her, let her know she can also choose not to like those boys.

Here’s this bit from the New York Times, about a security agent who was there on the night that gunshots were fired at the White House.
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This fear of being criticized is a consequence of likeability. A man is much less likely to give that as a reason, simply because men are much less likely to be raised with likeability as a central life motif.

9. Ninth Suggestion: Give Chizalum a sense of identity. It matters. Be deliberate about it. Let her grow up to think of herself as, among other things, a proud Igbo Woman. And you must be selective – teach her to embrace the parts of Igbo culture that are beautiful and teach her to reject the parts that are not. You can say to her, in different contexts and different ways – “Igbo culture is lovely because it values community and consensus and hard work, and the language and proverbs are beautiful and full of great wisdom. But Igbo culture also teaches that a woman cannot do certain things just because she’s a woman and that is wrong. Igbo culture also focuses a little too much on materialism and while money is important – because money means self-reliance – you must not give value to people based on who has money and who does not.”

Be deliberate also about showing her the enduring beauty and resilience of Africans and of black people. Why? Because of the power dynamics in the world, she will grow up seeing images of white beauty, white ability, and white achievement, no matter where she is in the world. It will be in the TV shows she watches, in the popular culture she consumes, in the books she reads. She will also probably grow up seeing many negative images of blackness and of Africans.

Teach her to 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 – the Nigerian curriculum isn’t quite infused with the idea of teaching children to have a sense of pride. Western nations do it well, because they do it subtly, and they might even disagree about having it called ‘teaching pride’ but that is what it is. So her teachers will be fantastic at teaching her mathematics and science and art and music, but you will have to do the pride-teaching yourself.

Teach her about privilege and inequality and the importance of giving dignity to everyone who does not mean her harm – teach her that the househelp is human just like her, teach her always to greet the driver and all domestic staff who are older than she is. Link these expectations to her identity – for example, say to her “In our family, when you are a child, you greet those older than you no matter what job they do.”

Give her an Igbo nickname. When I was growing up, my Aunty Gladys called me Ada Obodo Dike. I always loved that. Apparently my village Ezi-Abba is known as the Land of Warriors and to be called Daughter of the Land of Warriors was deliciously heady.

Teach her to speak Igbo. Not as a project. Too many Igbo-speaking parents today approach this as though it were a project – they reward the children for speaking the rare sentence, enroll them in patchily-organized once-a-week Igbo school and never actually make normal conversation with them in Igbo. Children are intelligent, they can easily sniff out what you value and what you don’t. Once-a-week ventures into some class while not expecting them to actually speak Igbo at home will make it very clear to them that you have little value for Igbo. And it won’t work.

If Chizalum is Igbo-speaking, it will help her better navigate our globalized world. And studies have shown over and over that there are many benefits to being bilingual.

10. Tenth Suggestion: Be deliberate about how you engage with her and her appearance.

Encourage her participation in sports. Teach her to be physically active. Take walks with her. Swim. Run. Play tennis. Football. Table tennis. All kinds of sports. Any kind of sports. I think this is important not only because of the obvious health benefits but because it can help with all the body-image insecurities that the world thrusts on girls. Let Chizalum know that there is great value in being active. Studies show that girls generally stop playing sports as puberty arrives. Not surprising. Breasts and self-consciousness can get in the way of sports. Try not to let that get in her way.

If she likes makeup let her wear it. If she likes fashion let her dress up. But if she doesn’t like either let her be. 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, such as fashion and makeup. But our society does not expect men to feel ashamed of pursuits considered generally male – sports cars, certain professional sports. In the same way, men’s grooming is never suspect in the way women’s grooming is – a well-dressed man does not worry that, because he is dressed well, certain assumptions might be made about his intelligence, his ability or his seriousness.

Never ever link her appearance with morality. Never tell her that a short skirt is ‘immoral.’ Make dressing a question of taste and attractiveness instead of a question of morality. If you both clash over what she wants to wear, never say things like ‘you look like a prostitute’ as I know your mother once told you. Instead say ‘ that dress doesn’t flatter you like this other one. Or doesn’t fit as well. Or doesn’t look as attractive. Or is simply ugly. But never ‘immoral.’ Because clothes have absolutely nothing to do with morality.

Try not to link hair with pain. I think of my childhood and how often I cried while my dense long hair was being plaited. I think of how a packet of Smarties chocolates was kept in front of me, as a reward if I sat through having my hair done. And for what? Imagine if we had not spent so many Saturdays of our childhood and teenagehood doing our hair. What might we have learned? In what ways might we have grown? What did boys do on Saturdays?

So with her hair, I suggest that you redefine ‘neat.’ Part of the reason that hair is about pain for so many girls is that adults are determined to conform to a version of ‘neat’ that means Too Tight and Scalp-Destroying and Headache-Infusing.
We need to stop. I’ve seen girls in school in Nigeria being terribly harassed for their hair not being ‘neat,’ merely because some of their God-given hair had curled up in glorious tight little balls at their temples. Make Chizalum’s hair loose. And make that your definition of neat. Go to her school and talk to the administration if you have to. It takes one person to make change happen. Also, her hair doesn’t have to ‘last’ – another reason we give for painful hairstyles. I suggest that you make loose plaits and big cornrows and don’t use a tiny-teethed comb that wasn’t made with our hair texture in mind.

Chizalum will notice very early on – because children are perceptive – what kind of beauty the mainstream world values. She will see it in magazines and films and television. She will see that whiteness is valued. She will notice that the hair texture that is valued is straight or swingy, and is hair that falls down rather than stands up. She will encounter these whether you like it or not. So make sure that you create alternatives for her to see. Let her know that slim white women are beautiful, and that non-slim, non-white women are beautiful. Let her know that there are many individuals and many cultures that do not find the narrow mainstream definition of beauty attractive. You will know your child best, and so you will know best how to affirm her own kind of beauty, how to protect her from looking at her own reflection with dissatisfaction.

Surround her with a village of aunties, women who have qualities you’d like her to admire. Talk about how much YOU admire them. Children copy and learn from example. Talk about what you admire about them. I, for example, particularly admire the African American feminist Florynce Kennedy. Some African women that I would tell her about are Ama Ata Aidoo, Dora Akunyili, Muthoni Likimani, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Taiwo Ajayi Lycett. 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.

Like your grandmother, by the way, that remarkable, strong, sharp-tongued babe. I remember once hearing Mrs. Josephine Anenih speak, and being so inspired by her frank and strong feminism, which I had not expected at all.

Surround Chizalum too with a village of uncles. This will be harder, judging from the kind of friends Chudi has. I still cannot get over that blustering man with the over-carved beard who kept saying at Chudi’s last birthday party – “I have paid her bride price! A woman whose bride price I have paid cannot come and tell me nonsense!”

So please find the few good men that you can, the few non-blustering men. Because the truth is that she will encounter a lot of male bluster in her life. So it is good to have alternatives from very early on.

I cannot overstate the power of alternatives. She can counter ideas about static ‘gender roles’ if she has been empowered by her familiarity with alternatives. If she knows an uncle who cooks well – and does so with indifference – then she can smile and brush off the foolishness of somebody who claims that ‘women must cook.’

11. Eleventh Suggestion: Teach her to question our culture’s selective use of biology as ‘reasons’ for social norms.

I know a Yoruba woman, married to an Igbo man, who was pregnant with her first child and was thinking of first names for the child. All the names were Igbo.

Shouldn’t they have Yoruba first names since they would have their father’s Igbo surname? I asked, and she said, ‘A child first belongs to the father. It has to be that way.’

We often use biology to explain the privileges that men have, the most common reason being men’s physical superiority. It is true that men are in general physically stronger than women. But our use of biology is selective. ‘A child first belongs to the father’ is a common sentiment in Nigeria. But if we truly depended on biology as root of social norms then children would be identified as their mothers rather than their fathers because when a child is born, the parent we are biologically – and incontrovertibly – certain of is the mother. We assume the father is who the mother says the father is. How many lineages all over the world are not biological, I wonder?

For many Igbo women, the conditioning is so complete that women think of children only as the father’s. I know of women who have left bad marriages but not been ‘allowed’ to take their children or even to see their children because the children belong to the man.

We also use evolutionary biology to explain male promiscuity, but not to explain female promiscuity, even though it really makes evolutionary sense for women to have many sexual partners – because the larger the genetic pool, the greater will be the chances of bearing offspring who will thrive.

So teach Chizalum that biology is an interesting and fascinating subject, but she should never accept it as justification for any social norm. Because social norms are created by human beings, and there is no social norm that cannot be changed.

12. Twelfth Suggestion: Talk to her about sex and start early. It will probably be a bit awkward but it is necessary.

Remember that seminar we went to in class 3 where we were supposed to be taught about ‘sexuality’ but instead we listened to vague semi-threats about how ‘talking to boys’ would end up with us being pregnant and disgraced. I remember that hall and that seminar as a place filled with shame. Ugly shame. That particular brand of shame that has to do with being female. May your daughter never encounter it.

With her, don’t pretend that sex is merely a controlled act of reproduction. Or an ‘only in marriage’ act, because that is disingenuous. (You and Chudi were having sex long before marriage and she will probably know this by the time she is twelve) Tell her that sex can be a beautiful thing and that it can have emotional consequences and tell her to wait until she is an adult and tell her that once she is an adult, she gets to decide what she wants sex to mean to her. But be prepared because she might not wait until she’s 18. And if she doesn’t wait, you have to make sure she is able to tell you that.

It’s not enough to say you want to raise a daughter who can tell you anything, you have to give her the language to talk to you. And I mean this in a literal way. What should she call it? What word should she use?

I remember people used ‘ike’ when I was a child to mean both anus and vagina and anus was the easier meaning but it left everything vague and I never quite knew how to say that I, for example, had an itch in my vagina.

Most childhood development experts and pediatricians say it is best to have children call sexual organs by their proper names – vagina and penis. I agree, but that is a decision you have to make. You should decide what name you want her to call it, but what matters is that there must be a name and that it cannot be a name that is weighed down with shame.

To make sure she doesn’t inherit shame from you, you have to free yourself of your own inherited shame. And I know how terribly difficult that is. In every culture in the world, female sexuality is about shame. Even cultures – like many in the west – that expect women to be sexy still do not expect them to be sexual.

The shame we attach to female sexuality is about control. Many cultures and religions control women’s bodies in one way or the other. If the justification for controlling women’s bodies were about women themselves, then it would be understandable. If, for example, the reason was – women should not wear short skirts because they can get cancer if they do. Instead the reason is not about women, it is about men. Women must be ‘covered up’ to protect men. I find this deeply dehumanizing because it reduces women to mere props used to manage the appetites of men.

And speaking of shame. Never ever link sexuality and shame. Or nakedness and shame. Do not ever make ‘virginity’ a focus. Every conversation about virginity becomes a conversation about shame. Teach her to reject the linking of shame and female biology. Why were we raised to speak in low tones about periods? To be filled with shame if our menstrual blood happened to stain our skirt? Periods are nothing to be ashamed off. Periods are normal and natural and the human species would not be here if periods did not exist. I remember a man who said a period was like shit. Well, sacred shit, I told him, because you wouldn’t be here if periods didn’t happen.

13. Thirteenth Suggestion: Romance will happen so be on board.

I’m writing this assuming she is heterosexual – she might not be, obviously. But I am assuming that because it is what I feel best equipped to talk about.
Make sure you are aware of the romance in her life. And the only way you can do that is to start very early to give her the language with which to talk to you. I don’t mean you should be her ‘friend,’ I mean you should be her mother to whom she can talk about everything.

Teach her that to love is not only to give but also to take. This is important because we give girls subtle cues about their lives – we teach girls that a large component of their ability to love is their ability to self-sacrifice. We do not teach this to boys. Teach her that to love she must give of herself emotionally but she must also expect to be given.

I think love is the most important thing in life. Whatever kind, however you define it but I think of it generally as being greatly valued by another human being and giving great value to another human being. But why do we raise only one half of the world to value this? I was recently in a roomful of young woman and was struck by how much of the conversation was about men – what terrible things men had done to them, this man cheated, this man lied, this man promised marriage and disappeared, this husband did this and that.

And I realized, sadly, that the reverse is not true. A roomful of men do not invariably end up talking about women – and if they do, it is more likely to be in objectifying flippant terms rather than as lamentations of life. Why?

It goes back, I think, to that early conditioning. At a recent baby’s baptism ceremony, guests were asked to write their wishes for the baby girl. One guest wrote: I wish for you a good husband.’ Well-intentioned obviously but very troubling. A three-month old baby girl already being told that a husband is something to aspire to. Had the baby been a boy, it would not have occurred to that guest to wish him ‘ a good wife.’

And speaking of women lamenting about men who ‘promise’ marriage and then disappear. Isn’t it odd that in most societies in the world today, women generally cannot propose marriage? Marriage is such a major step in your life and yet you cannot take charge of it, it depends on a man asking you. So many women are in long term relationships and want to get married but have to ‘wait’ for the man to propose – and often this waiting becomes a performance, sometimes unconscious and sometimes not, of marriage-worthiness. If we apply the first Feminism Tool here, then it makes no sense that a woman who matters equally has to ‘wait’ for somebody else to initiate what will be a major life change for her.

A Feminism Lite adherent once told me that the fact that our society expects men to make proposals proved that women had the power, because only if a woman says yes can marriage happen. The truth is this – the real power resides in the person who asks. Before you can say yes or no, you first must be asked. I truly wish for Chizalum a world in which either person can propose, in which a relationship has become so comfortable, so joy-filled, that whether or not to embark on marriage becomes a conversation, itself filled with joy.

I want to say something about money here. Teach her never ever to say such nonsense as ‘my money is my money and his money is our money.’ It is vile. And dangerous – to have that attitude means that you must potentially accept other harmful ideas as well. Teach her that it is NOT a man’s role to provide. In a healthy relationship, it is the role of whoever can provide to provide.

14. Fourteenth Suggestion: In teaching her about oppression, be careful not to turn the oppressed into saints. Saintliness is not a pre-requisite for dignity. People who are unkind and dishonest are still human, and still deserve dignity. Property rights for rural Nigerian women, for example, is a major feminist issue, and the women do not need to be good and angelic to be allowed their property rights.

There is sometimes, in the discourse around gender, the assumption that women are supposed to be morally ‘better’ than men. They are not. Women are as human as men are. Female goodness is as normal as female evil.

And there are many women in the world who do not like other women. Female misogyny exists and to evade acknowledging it is to create unnecessary opportunities for anti-feminists to try and discredit feminism. I mean the sort of anti-feminists who will gleefully raise examples of women saying ‘I am not a feminist’ as though a person born with a vagina making this statement somehow automatically discredits feminism. That a woman claims not to be feminist does not diminish the necessity of feminism. If anything, it makes us see the extent of the problem, the successful reach of patriarchy. It shows us, too, that not all women are feminists and not all men are misogynists.

15. Fifteenth Suggestion: Teach her about difference. Make difference ordinary. Make difference normal. Teach her not to attach value to difference. And the reason for this is not to be fair or to be nice but merely to be human and practical. Because difference is the reality of our world. And by teaching her about difference, you are equipping her to survive in a diverse world.

She must know and 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. Teach her that we do not know – we cannot know – everything about life. Both religion and science have spaces for the things we do not know, and it is enough to make peace with that.

Teach her never to universalize her own standards or experiences. Teach her that her standards are for her alone, and not for other people. This is the only necessary form of humility: the realization that difference is normal.

Tell her that some people are gay, and some are not. A little child has two daddies or two mommies because some people just do. Tell her that some people go to mosque and others go to church and others go to different places of worship and still others don’t worship at all, because that is just the way it is for some people.

You like palm oil but some people don’t like palm oil – you say to her.
Why – she says to you.
I don’t know. It’s just the way the world is – you say to her.

Please note that I am not suggesting that you raise her to be ‘non judgmental’ which is a commonly used expression these days, and which slightly worries me. The general sentiment behind the idea is a fine one but ‘non-judgmental’ can easily devolve into meaning ‘don’t have an opinion about anything.’ And so, instead of that, what I hope for Chizalum is this: that she will be full of opinions, and that her opinions will come from an informed, humane and broad-minded place.

May she be healthy and happy. May her life be whatever she wants it to be.

Do you have a headache after reading all this? Sorry. Next time don’t ask me how to raise your daughter feminist.

With love, oyi gi,
Chimamanda

138 Comments

  1. Engoz

    October 15, 2016 at 10:25 am

    This is my common sense. ‘My’ common sense because as you go through life you realize common sense differs among people.

    • Nahum

      October 15, 2016 at 4:23 pm

      Not only is this my common sense, but this is my type of feminism

    • Manny

      October 15, 2016 at 9:09 pm

      Dear Chimamanda,
      Your mother’s womb is blessed.

    • Amaka

      October 16, 2016 at 10:07 pm

      Some of her views are helpful. I just hope all readers will critically analyze their unique circumstances with God’s help. If you follow anyone blindly and your marital institution becomes a wreck, you won’t have her to blame. She will be enjoying hers whilst you’all be busy wetting your pillow and wallowing in regrets. I will not train my daughter to have sex when she feels she is ready. NO, that body created by an awesome God is too dignifying and should not be tampered with by whosoever no matter how rich and handsome. Her body is not free, if he is not ready to become a husband then leave that precious body alone. I agree that a woman can pursue any career, I did get involved in politics in College and no one made me feel uncomfortable about it because of my gender, I also agree with the fact that wealth should not cloud good judgement. And for those who are so excited about switching roles. thread softly before your marriage scatters. Madame Folorunsho Alakija lives a fulfilled life also. A word is enough for the wise.

    • similicious

      October 17, 2016 at 9:16 am

      I understand your views. However, you have to teach your child about God first. Too many parents liken being a virgin to the only important character trait a girl should posses and not the same for boys. In teaching your child that God values the temple being holy, you also cannot not force this ideal on the child., just as God has given us free will and cannot force any human to love him.

  2. Dawn

    October 15, 2016 at 10:36 am

    Nice article, didn’t read to d end tho, quite lengthy:

  3. Engoz

    October 15, 2016 at 10:40 am

    ‘I want to say something about money here. Teach her never ever to say such nonsense as ‘my money is my money and his money is our money.’ It is vile. And dangerous – to have that attitude means that you must potentially accept other harmful ideas as well. Teach her that it is NOT a man’s role to provide. In a healthy relationship, it is the role of whoever can provide to provide.’

    • Mz_Danielz

      October 15, 2016 at 8:15 pm

      It is a man’s role to provide. I’m sorry but my feminism demands that a man provides, doesn’t cheat, treats me as an equal with shared chores and all but he must provide and not even be bothered about my money. #myfeminismisnotyourfeminism

    • Engoz

      October 15, 2016 at 10:43 pm

      Buhaha, this is criminal logic. You want the perks of patriarchy while enjoying the perks of feminism? Hehehe you think men that are holding dearly to their privileges are stupid to fall for your logic? Please go into a debate with nigerian men first, then come back and tell me the results, hehehe. That is when you will warrant a good response from me. I’m beginning to think some of you are teenagers who haven’t ventured into the real world yet. Anyway thanks for the good laugh, I enjoyed it.

    • Joyce

      October 17, 2016 at 10:23 pm

      He is treating you as equal by sharing the bills with you if he feels you can afford it as well

      1
    • Kel

      October 18, 2016 at 3:43 pm

      We share bills like we share everything else, because we are partners. No way I am picking up bills in my home and being the only person to cook, clean, get the children fed and dressed. Mba. That is slavery.

      You can tell me the husband will provide and I don’t bring a kobo, if I am a housewife. So he brings in the cheese, I do the housework. There has got to be a balance. That’s the only way one party will not resent the other.

      It took me a while to get here, because I was a proud card-carrying member of “My money is my money and his money is my money”. Maybe this is what maturity feels like.

    • Nnenna

      October 15, 2016 at 11:36 pm

      I agree with mz Daniels men and women have natural God given roles. A man cannot get pregnant but he sure as hell can work hard to provide for the family.. My feminism respects the different roles of men and women. Any man who expects you to work and share bills fifty fifty should be prepared to carry pregnancy for 4 1/2 months plus share in the labour including breastfeeding. Super woman is a myth made up by lazy ass men to get confused feminist to take on their roles as well as men roles. Meanwhile they laughing behind your back thanking God for sending them a slave called independent woman. who got time for that stressed out mess!

    • Engoz

      October 16, 2016 at 1:46 pm

      Then you will have to give men their biological rights to be polyamorous as women have periods in their biology that refrains them from having sex, but the male doesn’t go through these periods.

      Providing is a learned skill, not a natural skill. If you want a society where providing is prioritized on the men, then women like you would need to be kicked out of the workforce. You all can focus on motherhood and free up the space where more men can dominate the workforce and provide for their families. Employment resources are scarce. As it is now we have women competing for employment slots, educational slots when we know damn well people like you are not interested in providing for your families. Does it make any sense making women go to school when the plan is to prioritize providing on the male?

    • soji

      October 16, 2016 at 3:45 pm

      My wife works part time by choice and I support Her . When the kids get older she might decide to go back to work full time, I’ll hate it but if that’s what she wants then I’m not gonna stand in her way. If she does go back to work it’s not because of income because I make sure she wants for noting ? She buys bits in the house but I do not count on her income. As for polygamy because wife is out of action loooooooool. If you got strength for that my bro looool. As for me a hard working man got other things other than sex on his mind 24 7. Testosterone is not just for sex it also means as a man you can handle a particular kind of stress out of the home better and have endurance more than females. The way I see it I’m masculine and she is every beautiful bit feminine. She’s my feminist and I’m her biggest fan.

    • Joyce

      October 17, 2016 at 10:34 pm

      There is nothing like God given roles. I don’t know why women justify men providing or giving them money cos they are having a child with a man. No one forced or compelled you to have a child or get into a marriage. So it shouldn’t be a thing of compulsion for a man to provide. When you say yes to getting into this sort of situation-ship you better get ready to chip in. A man or woman is only allowed not to chip in at all when they have nothing to give and if that’s the case then please remain by yourself and try to be more productive and help yourself.

  4. Great Lady

    October 15, 2016 at 10:41 am

    I LOVE THIS. GOD BLESS YOU.

  5. Mohammad

    October 15, 2016 at 10:50 am

    Now ain’t this the Bible, and Koran and Mahabharata all put together?! Chimamanda IS a goddess!!!

  6. Neharra

    October 15, 2016 at 10:51 am

    I’m sure she dropped some nuggets in her piece, but I lost all respect for her when she suggested that there are “different kinds of feminism”….best wishes all the same!

    • Nikky

      October 15, 2016 at 1:47 pm

      Socialist feminism, radical feminism, cultural feminism, liberal feminism, new wave feminism and many more. Chimamanda has nothing to do with it. It’s just a fact that feminist asking for equal social, political, economic and human rights do so in different contexts, at different places and at different times.
      It is just a fact that women’s rights issues in Nigeria are not the same rights issues in America or the Uk. Look at her example of property rights for women in rural communities in Nigeria, they are obviously not the same rights issues for women in small town America.

    • pat

      October 15, 2016 at 4:00 pm

      @nikky. thanks for enlightening others who think there is just one feminism. Feminism is sot static, it is very different from places to places and the issues differ to. The underlying fact is that women should be treated with dignity and respect.

      I actually read through all of what she wrote and it sounded so familiar, but for the issue about gay. these are all things my mother has told me or demonstrated to me as I was growing up.

      I like Chimamanda, she has that feel of a Maya Angelou. I wish she was my friend

    • Mohammad

      October 15, 2016 at 4:58 pm

      Pat, what is stopping you accepting gay people?

    • Abena

      October 15, 2016 at 8:47 pm

      Well said.

      Remember the Beijing conference on Women in 1995 where Western feminists and African feminists/womanists had clear differences in defining their idea of feminism? The fundamental theory – equality for women remained the same, but they were clear differences in what the different groups wanted.

      Ama Ata Aidoo and other African authors have discussed differences within the feminist movement in the past. I don’t know why it’s an issue now that Chimamanda has mentioned it.

    • [email protected]

      October 15, 2016 at 6:31 pm

      And you just missed out on those NUGGETS because of your ‘loss of respect for her’
      Yours is the greater LOSS honey

    • Neharra

      October 15, 2016 at 6:36 pm

      lol. I don’t benefit from any of the information she puts out because I have my own common sense. But lucky for you if you do

    • Majestic

      October 16, 2016 at 6:06 am

      Please read it. You would forgive her. Not like she needs your forgiveness, but it would make you appreciate her her and her thought process.
      This piece I have bookmarked. I am hoping I would fall back to it someday.
      The aspect of having sex is what I would need to look into. Keeping virginity for marriage is not wrong. What is wrong is the premise. The notion of keeping your virginity for your future husband, who is probably having threesomes right now is wrong to me. I am a virgin because of my respect and covenant with God.
      I intend raising an all rounder. I might not get it 100 percent but, I’ll be happy I tried.
      SHOUT OUT TO MY DAD, WHO IS THE FIRST FEMINIST I HAVE MET IN LIFE.

    • Amaa

      October 16, 2016 at 5:35 pm

      That’s the choice people talk about choose because you want not because society or culture wants you too. I never understood how my Dad treated my mum the way he did and on the other hand was raising feminist. He will say confusing things like let no man take you for granted because he feeds you buy your own property do well in school beat all the boys in maths if a boy tells you to shut up tell him to go hug transformer. I was vocal and highly opinionated because my father made sure all his girls knew how precious they where.. he never allowed any of girls marry in school you finished school didnmasters then worked before marriage

    • Ito

      October 16, 2016 at 11:28 am

      Yes there are different brands of feminism… the thought of feminism itself is a house divided upon itself… there are feminism that do not capture the realities of the European woman, the African woman or women in business or Muslim women , thus it is best to adopt what best works for you because women realities are not the same or universal… As they challenge various faces their respective societies or traditions puts before them…

    • uzondu

      October 16, 2016 at 7:01 pm

      The truth is that there are different kind of feminisms but the goal is one fighting for equality. There is no need to lose respect for something you dont simply understand.

  7. Johnny

    October 15, 2016 at 10:58 am

    go to the kitchen or the other room (buhari’s voice)

  8. Baby gurl

    October 15, 2016 at 11:01 am

    This is a thesis. Well I don’t really know how to feel after skimming through. I’m too tired to think right now, was a busy night Anyways my conclusion is that Chimamanda’s husband is a very strong man. Goodluck Sir. And to that child, goodluck forging your very own path and identity in life. Won’t be easy with Ngozi as a mum. PS. I thought I was a feminist till I saw this. I love running back home to cook for my other half. Even though I work hard through the day I derive immense joy from being the ultimate carer. My life, my rules I guess.

    • deola

      October 15, 2016 at 11:28 am

      Chimamanda do make some sense to me too. But sometines she overemphasis things and she becomes overly wrong. Feminism is ok to some extent if we believe all species of humans are equally good. But gender role is also important to be observed for proper life management. Adichie doesn’t know how to draw the line sometimes. But I still enjoy reading her piece. She is excellent with words. Happy cooking for your husband sister. Any idea of what I can cook for my husband this afternoon too???

    • 411

      October 16, 2016 at 7:38 am

      deola , I find people like you quite annoying. The foolishness with Gender roles is why you women applaud men for doing basic things a human being should do such as, cooking & taking care of their damn children. You cook for your husband because that is what you love not because it’s your damn responsibility. He’s not an infant or disabled.

      1
    • kilipot

      October 15, 2016 at 11:57 am

      Obviously Baby girl didn’t read before commenting. Go back and read it jor, don’t be a lazy gehhhh. ????

    • Marian

      October 15, 2016 at 2:25 pm

      Our lives, our rules actually. I am also a carer and thoroughly enjoy cooking for my husband. However, I am independent and a career woman, so there!

    • Teju TJ

      October 15, 2016 at 5:00 pm

      I somehow feel compelled to address this comprehension problem that readers often face on this blog and others. Please no one said it is bad to cook for your other half or enjoy it. The point is, you should be able to decide if you want to or not and not have someone impose it on you because you are a woman. Makes sense? So for example, my oldest sister LOVES to cook, it gives her joy – if she decides to stop cooking because it doesn’t appear ‘feminist’ – now that would be very foolish. She will not be true to herself if she did that. Do what makes you happy, if it makes others happy even better. Don’t compromise your happiness because society says you should.
      I personally don’t like the word ‘feminist’. However, I believe I shouldn’t be treated differently because I am female. I don’t like to cook, why must I be forced to cook? You also don’t like to cook, may be we should come up with a strategy that involves both our contributions so we both don’t starve?

      Check this out – I was giving someone career advice, she studied accounting in Nigeria and was trying to transition to the U.S. system. I advised her to get her Masters in MIS or some IT related course. She said: “I can’t do that. That is my husband’s line”. I was shocked to say the least. So because your husband is in the IT space, you can’t dare to dabble into the area? How can you limit yourself because someone else is in the area. Do you even know how broad IT is?

    • LemmeRant

      October 15, 2016 at 6:21 pm

      @Teju T

      Lemme now ask. Assuming you’re married. You don’t like to cook. Your husband also doesn’t like to cook and doesn’t want a maid

      Who then cooks?

    • kilipot

      October 15, 2016 at 9:25 pm

      @lemmerant. You are very funny?????.

      Can I also ask, How was the man eating before he got married ???

      1
    • [email protected]

      October 16, 2016 at 11:42 am

      Marian and Baby gurl and others who seem to have missed the point of this article, let me help you put it in perspective – A woman should have the right to belong to whichever room she wants to belong to, be it the kitchen, the living room, the ‘other’ room or the courtroom. The most important thing is that it IS HER CHOICE. Choice is the keyword here, it is the summary of everything the literary goddess has written. Free Choice, free will, equality, shikena.
      Thank you.

    • Bimbo

      October 15, 2016 at 4:19 pm

      But that’s the beauty of what she wrote! If you love cooking for your husband – wonderful , it’s a lovely thing to feed your man if you enjoy it – that’s your way but cooking should not in this day and age be the sole preserve of the woman. Traditionally it is the man’s job to provide shelter and protect the family – when last have we seen a man carry bricks and hammer and nail to construct a home for his family??? If men can outsource their own duties then women who don’t like cooking can also use a chef or share cooking duties since women have also become co- breadwinners.

    • nnenne

      October 16, 2016 at 2:50 pm

      @Bimbo…
      Exactly!!!!

    • Corolla

      October 15, 2016 at 5:06 pm

      He must be a strong man because his wife is not subscribing to the gender caste system of our society? SMH!

    • Corolla

      October 15, 2016 at 5:08 pm

      @babygurl

    • Baby gurl

      October 15, 2016 at 5:27 pm

      @Corolla?

    • James

      October 15, 2016 at 9:58 pm

      He is either a strong man or he is too weak to put this woman in her place. Chimamanda and her feminist cohorts can say all they want. Women and men are not equal and will never be. Men built societies and set up the building blocks for virtually all societies to function to this day. Remove men from any society and see how long it lasts.

      If a woman can’t cook for her husband, who will. Any woman who subscribes to what this woman is teaching will not have a happy home.

    • Baby gurl

      October 15, 2016 at 5:43 pm

      Wow calm down people. I love Chimamanda. Read all her books. Believe in feminism or equality and what other name we have. We read it in her last post, her feminism is not Beyonce’s feminism. You see? Her type of feminism is also not my type. There are now several factions in the feminist movement. We even have first to third waves. I think we are in the 3rd or 4th. It’s creating tension already. Eg . one half of feminists believe pornography empowers women, the other half believes it is degrading. I was only voicing my reaction to the differences between what I think is feminism and what she has written. I strongly believe that women who are in the same rank as men at the workplace should be paid the same wage. That is lacking in most industries. I also believe more women should be represented in politics and institutional leadership. And I detest misogyny and patriarchy with all my heart. However I (unlike Chimamanda) believes that the man is the head of the family. This is solely the relationship between husband/father and his family. I would never allow my feminism break my Christian tenets. That’s where the difference lies. No hate. No castigating. And you who is accusing me of reading comprehension, well…..

    • Vida

      October 16, 2016 at 3:48 pm

      A Man can never be head of the Household in True Feminism. Take your fucked up reasoning and shove it down your thoat. Men and women are Partners in a household. Some of you think feminism is a brand new bandwagon you must hop on. Educate and free yourself from Feminism -Lite aka Fake Feminist.

    • Cindy

      October 15, 2016 at 5:54 pm

      I think you missed the entire point then. The fact is you LOVE to cook for your husband which is your CHOICE. That is not different from what Ngozi said if you read her piece within. The feminist angle here would be you being made to feel guilty for not loving to cook for your husband due to societal conditioning. Get it?

    • 411

      October 16, 2016 at 7:41 am

      Educate these motherf*kahs CINDY!! Yesss!!

    • Naijatalk

      October 16, 2016 at 12:16 am

      There’s nothing wrong with you loving the idea of running home to cook for your significant other, what makes you think chumamanda herself doesn’t love doing the same for her husband. You do things for the one you love period and it shouldn’t be limited to cooking. Feminism is about being yourself just because and doing you and being comfortable and accepted by all for being you. If a person loves her husband but hates cooking, It shouldn’t make her a bad woman or bad wife. She just doesn’t like cooking period and she probably possesses other strengths that are more cherished/valued by said husband.

    • Kiki

      October 16, 2016 at 4:29 am

      My thoughts exactly!

  9. Pink

    October 15, 2016 at 11:07 am

    Hmmmm, it was a long and intriguing read. I’ll be back.

  10. Pink

    October 15, 2016 at 11:10 am

    Hmmmm… it was a looong and intriguing read.
    I’ll be back.

  11. plan.com.ng

    October 15, 2016 at 11:47 am

    amazing

  12. AceOfSpades

    October 15, 2016 at 11:49 am

    If your husband cooks, you should be excited about the taste food and not in the fact that he cooked.

    Some men cook for their wives because the wives can’t cook. Now if you wife should one day cook, I shouldn’t act surprised?

    Everyone should just do what makes them happy. If cooking for your husband makes you happy, do it! If staying home while your husband works make you happy, do just that!

  13. kilipot

    October 15, 2016 at 11:51 am

    So beautifully written with good intentions.
    Oh my God. I love this.. So many nuggets that I can’t even start to highlight. I will bookmark and eventually print this. So many things I nodded and smiled to not because it was a good read but because it reminded of things that have happened to me. Eg The one about Likeability, the one about Difference, oh the Language one too.
    I am overwhelmed in a positive way.
    Thank-you Chinamanda. This is SOLID.
    Oh, my baby girl is arriving planet Earth in a few weeks, I think this is some good stuff for us to bond over ?.

  14. Beard gang

    October 15, 2016 at 11:52 am

    chimamanda go soon talk say na she give herself belle …hmmm

    • Corolla

      October 15, 2016 at 5:11 pm

      People like you just lack common sense to think! You are too lazy to critically analyze her article, so you’d rather throw out a dumb comment.

  15. E

    October 15, 2016 at 11:56 am

    Putting thoughts into words? Chimamanda does so excellently.

    These got me “‘Equally’ of course depends on you both. It does not have to mean a literal fifty-fifty or a day-by-day score-keeping but you’ll know when the child-care work is equally shared. You’ll know by your lack of resentment. Because when there is true equality, resentment does not exist.”……..This woman is intelligent sha.

    “If we don’t place the straitjacket of gender roles on young children we give them space to reach their full potential”

    I agree to 90% of what she said. Her writing skill is out of this world. Simple and engaging.

  16. Missappleberry

    October 15, 2016 at 11:57 am

    Thanks BN for listening to me lol.

  17. Proverbs31Woman

    October 15, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    What word can we use to describe women young and old that enjoy providing for their family, supporting their households, being trailblazers in their career fields and still being submissive wives. I love Chimamanda, her books and articles make me critically think but I have started questioning her concepts, It seems with her its either pro feminism or your pro submissive. should we then refer to ourselves as womanists? women who know their worth, value, strengths and enjoy being African! women.

    • Marian

      October 15, 2016 at 2:34 pm

      YES!!!!!!!! I am a proud womanist!!! :))))

    • Engoz

      October 15, 2016 at 5:18 pm

      You do not know what ‘womanist’ means. Womanism is an offshoot of feminism coined to address the inequalities in the racial and gender-based oppression of black women. Creators of womanism felt that white feminism did not address racial inequalities. The black female experience was and is not the same as the white female’s, hence the offshoot from western feminism. Womanism like feminism also challenges women to break from the traditional definition of womanhood. Do not use words you don’t understand. To borrow Chimamanda’s words, You are a Feminist lite, not a womanist. Sorry, lol.

    • Nahum

      October 15, 2016 at 4:28 pm

      Nobody is fighting with you. Do you! I can’t stand women like you that feel challenged just because a feminist expressed an opinion. That means your stance is weak and shallow. Before you start placing tags on yourself, actually find yourself and stop feeling challenged when feminists speak. We really don’t care about you.

    • Nawah

      October 15, 2016 at 6:01 pm

      Wow, Nahum please reread what you wrote, this time loud and slow. Sounds too harsh.

    • Proverbs31Woman

      October 17, 2016 at 12:22 am

      God bless you exclusive member 🙂

    • tunmi

      October 15, 2016 at 5:37 pm

      The word is feminist. As long as there is choice there and you realize that there is choice.

    • Cindy

      October 15, 2016 at 6:02 pm

      My dear, you’re still a feminist because it is your choice to make lol. And I think that’s the whole point. From all Ngozi wrote, do you really think she disrespects her husband? Haba. Being a feminist and being a Proverbs 31 woman are not mutually exclusive hun.

  18. Blessing

    October 15, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    Nice try Ms. Adichie, I just hope she fits in after all

    • Joyce

      October 17, 2016 at 10:52 pm

      It’s not about fitting in. It’s about being an individual

  19. Buttercup

    October 15, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    Even though this article sounds right, what exactly is the spirit behind it. I am a Christian and I believe in equity for both genders. When she says a man shouldn’t be given the role as being the head of the family isn’t that against God? (Or maybe God isn’t a factor in her life) after all the bible Influences gender roles in our society which she is clearly against. When ever I read her articles I’m always very careful because she comes off as someone with good intentions but also very dangerous.

    • Omonaikee

      October 15, 2016 at 1:18 pm

      While I don’t agree with everything she says buttercup I see sense in a good amount of it. I dont think there is any sinister thing behind it or that you are exposing yourself to ungodly thinking by reading and weighing what she said against your own beliefs, choosing some and discarding others. I think this voice is important in our society where we have witnessed women suffering from the effects of socially and culturally accepted norms that limit a woman’s potential and even the quality of life she has- that’s the spirit behind it and behind similar conversations that question the frames in which a woman is cast by tradition. It’s definitely worthwhile to question our beliefs from time to time- it is from such critical reasonings that we change and grow.

    • Bimbo

      October 15, 2016 at 4:26 pm

      That is how they keep deceiving you. The biblical God is a misogynist – if you truly want to do what the bible wants then you would be quiet – women are not to be heard. Does the bible not condone slavery! Is slavery right? If we were going strictly by the bible then we should still be buying and owning human beings like we own dogs or cows.

    • Kel

      October 18, 2016 at 4:17 pm

      Hi there Buttercup. The Bible is very very patriarchal. So there.

      If you want to strictly follow the Bible and its provisions, go for it. Sha don’t pick at the favourable ones.

  20. Missappleberry

    October 15, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    If only some things we imagine can come true. I just feel like Ms Adichie’s brain should be made a tourist attraction site while she’s still alive. People should be made to pay good money to spend a day or two in it to learn something valuable. I just wish I was one of those people. What I would give to get in there to know how this woman thinks about some of the things she puts out there. I can even imagine the ones that she’s still thinking at the moment and the ones she’s yet to think or even the one she’s about to come up with in a couple of days, weeks or months. What an intelligent woman! Such an inspiring piece!

  21. Marlvina

    October 15, 2016 at 12:28 pm

    My star rating for Chimamanda has doubled. I really love this piece and have learned quite from it. Thanks!

  22. MIA

    October 15, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    I love this lady. No one is saying don’t cook for your hubby. Please do if that’s what you enjoy doing.

  23. Tee

    October 15, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    I once met an Austrian man who changed his surname to that of his wife after they married. I asked him why he did that. He told me that he changed his surname because his wife’s parents don’t have a male child to carry on the family name. Since he has brothers who can carry on his own family name, he suggested to his wife that they keep her surname instead.

    I was so touched by his decision because I couldn’t even imagine a Nigerian man doing the same. I kept commending him non-stop. He stopped me and asked why I’m so surprised. He said if women can go through the stress of changing their names after marriage without batting an eye, why can’t men do the same especially if there is a need for it?

    Mind you, his wife’s family never asked him to do this. They were equally surprised and I’m sure that would have been very grateful for his decision.

  24. Ivie

    October 15, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    Am curious. So whose surname will the children bear, mother or father? Or maybe some will have mothers surname while others the fathers

    • Missappleberry

      October 15, 2016 at 9:24 pm

      I think someone asked this your question underneath Adichie’s article on her Facebook page and another commenters response was the kids can bear hyphenated names e.g Ivie Curtis-naomie… something in that nature. I think it all depends on what the parents find appropriate though. Also read somewhere that jayz took Beyoncé’s surname after marriage hyphenated with his as the knowles did not have a male child to carry on the name. So it definitely depends on the couple and what they are good with.

  25. Proudly "Feminist Lite"

    October 15, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    I duff my hat once again to Ms Adichie for this deep and exceptionally brilliant piece. There are so many truths on here which I have shared with my husband and we would apply to raise our daughter. However there are two assumptions I have made about the writer based on this write up that won’t permit to accept and internalise all of her views:
    1. Ms Adichie’s views are not influenced by the Word of God. There are some things she said that don’t conform to the word of God. As long as the word of God stands sure to someone like me who is a Christian, the husband will forever be the head of the home. For every team there is always a team lead, my husband and I will continue to work as a team with equal efforts and contributions and mutual respect. But I’ll never deny him of his God given calling to lead our home. I guess that makes me “feminist lite” 🙂

    2. Ms Adichie has very liberal views on sexuality. Well I don’t. And if any of my children turns out gay, that would be a very horrible horror movie for me so I have to be guided on raising them. My baby girl wears navy blue a lot because I think it looks good on her and I don’t care for gender stereotypes. I will buy her toy sport cars and toy helicopter as well as dolls. I am all for encouraging her to be who she wants be and teach her not to have limitations induced by gender. BUT somewhere at the back of my mind I try to flip this around- would I be okay with it if my son wants to play with dolls? I know it is not a bad thing for a boy to learn to love effeminate things. Some of the best hair stylists and make up artists I know are men. But my fear of raising another EJ Johnson will be too real for me to be so liberal in raising my son.
    Hmm… person go use sense follow this Chimmanda advice ooo
    Interesting times lie ahead us.

    • Ijeoma Nwosu

      October 15, 2016 at 5:35 pm

      Exactly my thoughts as I read through this piece that I’m not going to acknowledge to be so wonderful . Adichie is human, that’s her opinion and doesn’t make it 100% acceptable/correct . I may not be surprised if she doesn’t believe in God. Teach a girl to be strong, have a choice … But don’t mislead her by telling her she can be a man . Simple biology will teach you that ; the different hormones in make and female , biblically; God decreed, even the mother of Christ was so powerful as she has the heart of her son . She never used that wrongly . At Canaan when the wine finished at the wedding ceremony , she quietly went to her son in private to ask for him to do that which only him has the power to do and knowing he won’t refuse . My advice , filter and choose the rights and move on .
      Ijeoma Nwosu

    • Kel

      October 18, 2016 at 4:20 pm

      But Chimamanda did not say anywhere that a woman can be a man by being a feminist. Comprehension is key. Major Key. #NoDJKhaled

    • The real Hadiza

      October 17, 2016 at 12:53 pm

      In my home we both can do equal domestic work and professional work , I prefer his cleaning to my cleaning , and he prefers my cooking to his cooking , we both work though I work on part time now cos of our kids , I love you already

  26. Millionaires

    October 15, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    @Buttercup you made a good point concerning this her article. Yes I agree with some of her suggestions and disagree with some especially the gender role parts.

  27. Wendy

    October 15, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    I did not read it…i am soooo tired and over this her feminist talk…
    She is starting to rub me off the wrong wat..
    Abeg go take a seat…

    • Nahum

      October 15, 2016 at 4:35 pm

      Next time, skip the article. It’s really not that hard.

  28. Caramel Chic

    October 15, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    This write up was beautiful to my soul. I don’t think many people will read this all the way through. Hoping she will create an audio version. Although I only agree with 80 % of the article. Many of her words woken my soul.

    I was reminded by my culture and truly how much we hate and detest women in Nigeria. Let us ignore the feminist label for now and mule over the nuggets from the article. The Nigerian woman has been dying for years, and continues to die. I’m reminded by why I don’t talk to many men in my family. This would make for a great read for couples and parents with teenagers. Lord I pray I can raise my sons with as much detail and intent as our women have been raised. I actually feel really sad after reading this article.

  29. Falilat

    October 15, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    Feminism is stress. We’re focusing on the wrong things. This earth is not our home just breathe and pass abeg. This ain’t what will take me to paradise. Swerve woman, swerve.

    • Bimbo

      October 15, 2016 at 4:29 pm

      Why bother living? Do the needful and go to heaven nah! Let those who want to live and improve their lives continue on earth

    • Mohammad

      October 15, 2016 at 5:01 pm

      Bimbo I love you!

    • Kel

      October 18, 2016 at 4:22 pm

      LOOOL. Aren’t you the realest G?

      E say na just breathe and pass through. Ugh.

    • Aisha

      October 15, 2016 at 5:18 pm

      @ Falilat, so basically, you just want to exist rather than LIVE A LIFE here on earth? What ambition!
      Remember, whatever stance we take here will sure echo in eternity.

  30. john

    October 15, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    after trading , I now fully understand why a lot of women are confused. .so many advise and rules to follow..it is funny in all this write up ( as someone noted in facebook. no care about chinazulum choice and feeling..ar. but I think that mama chizalum should remember that chizalum is a person too ,an individual, she shouldn’t be disappointed if chizalum doesn’t turn out to be the feminist she wanted to raise. so, in raising chizalum as a feminist, she should let chizalum be herself first.

    • aniefiok

      October 15, 2016 at 11:49 pm

      She already stated that at the end of the letter. Double check

  31. hadiza

    October 15, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    I adore this woman.

  32. Gem

    October 15, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    Exactly the whole point of this article oga John. Chizalum will become a product of her socialization. Her internalizations will shape her perceptions and attitudes. So it’s good she learned the “right” things; “right” in the sense that she only allows herself to do things she wants to, because she wants to and not because she has to.
    Chimamanda is a true woman. All brains and very unapologetic. Whenever she speaks, I meet my kindred spirit. She has a unique way of speaking to my soul those thoughts I find so hard to put to words.
    Chukwu gozie gi Chimamanda. Always.

  33. Babe

    October 15, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    Chimamanda is bae.very valid points she raised

  34. Marian

    October 15, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    As a christian woman (unapologetically so), I believe my husband is the head of my home. We however work as a team. I am an independent career woman and he respects me for that. I also love to take care of my home and cook for my husband. I am neither feminist nor feminist lite. I am a woman, I am me.

    • Engoz

      October 15, 2016 at 3:21 pm

      …..and Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 1 corintihians 14:34. I hope you adhere to these instructions in your church as a Christian woman.

    • BGIS

      October 15, 2016 at 5:00 pm

      You need to study your bible – that verse refers to the chaos and disorder of the early church’s services where according to jewish custom, men and women would sit on separate sides and one of the disturbances included women interrupting the service to ask their husbands questions. See Joel 2v28, Acts 2 and Acts 21 for examples of women propheysing or praying in the church. “without context, text is just a pretext” ie you can make it sound however you want. Stop using the bible to justify your already set views, its so much more beautiful and full of grace and practical than that. Peace

    • Engoz

      October 15, 2016 at 6:12 pm

      @ BGIS
      33 God isn’t a God of disorder but of peace. Like in all the churches of God’s people, 34 the women should be quiet during the meeting. They are not allowed to talk. Instead, they need to get under control, just as the Law says. 35 If they want to learn something, they should ask their husbands at home. It is disgraceful for a woman to talk during the meeting.

      Verse 33 and 35 just discredits your context. In fact it states that it is disgraceful for a woman to talk during meetings. Now you alluded to the Christian church separating males from females. Why did the church evolve to have both male and female sit together during service? Why is today’s church not keeping it the ‘early church way’? If you can rationalize this scripture you open the avenue to rationalize other scriptures and that includes the premise of headship. Thank you.

  35. mma

    October 15, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    whaooo!!!! i love chimamandas version of Feminism.. its plain truth! i caught myself smiling through most paragraph as i have experienced same in many same ways.
    for example, i was discouraged by peers on the idea of owning landed property…..
    “how do you think your man would handle that””? “if you do that what will your husband do”? those were some questions i was asked in disgust..
    #wellsaid

  36. Greatness

    October 15, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    She took these words out of my mouth.
    I woke up this morning filled with so much thoughts, especially after reading about the child bride.
    1. From whose brain did the idea “IT IS A MAN’S WORLD” creep out? It is a man and a woman’s world. As well as animals, plant and every other living thing.
    2. If some men want their own world, they should go create “PLANET MAN’S WORLD”.
    3. Women, it is not okay for a man to be solely responsible for your needs or pay all the bills… No matter what background you come from.
    4. Man or Woman, you have to place value on yourself before anyone else can.
    5. Some Men and Women constantly cheat on their spouse, this is not okay. What do you think people are made of? Steel? Come on!
    To the MEN: Responsible women(wives) get to admire other men too, but they put their emotions in check and discipline themselves. Beauty fades, body changes and love sometimes become boring ,but all of this can be worked on. You don’t need to be unfaithful. If most men can not tolerate a cheating wife, then why should a woman?
    To the WOMEN: A responsible woman (wife) respects her husband. Let your husband know your needs, don’t assume he will figure out. When tough time comes and you find your self taking more responsibility, please don’t disrespect your husband. Tough times don’t last! Do not go into the arms of another man.

    • Aisha

      October 15, 2016 at 5:23 pm

      Greatness, I love your words!

    • The real hadiza

      October 17, 2016 at 1:30 pm

      Trust me it’s from the beginning of creation from the bible , if you believe in God and in the bible , men are giving first than women … To me even at that it doesn’t make women less , we are equal in diff ways

  37. Apples

    October 15, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    I love this………

  38. gosgos

    October 15, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    Please go through this Article again as well as other pieces written by Ms Adichie.She has never ever said the man is not the head of the family.The problem is that we dont take time to read these pieces carefully.I advise you do that please.Thank you.

  39. Mmesoma

    October 15, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    Why address to Ijeawele if there’s nothing like gender roles??
    Address to the public.
    I told my sons not to fight with their sister because she’s a girl!!
    I I taught them to protect her not because she’s weak but there a difference between a mans strength and that of a woman..
    You contradicted yourself Amanda when you talked of femininity?
    If there’s no gender roles darling,there’s nothing like femininity?
    Love you still

    • Niyoola

      October 15, 2016 at 6:47 pm

      Teach your sons not to fight. Doesn’t matter if t opponent is male or female.

    • Kel

      October 18, 2016 at 5:07 pm

      I don’t even know what to say to you.

      How about teach your sons not to fight AT ALL?. You obviously missed where she wrote “If you condemn X for a woman and do not condemn X for a man, you have a problem with women, not with X”

      Being a feminist does not automatically mean you cannot embrace your femininity. Those two are not mutually exclusive. Talmbout “If there’s no gender roles, there’s nothing like femininity”. Please check yourself.

    • findingatm

      October 20, 2016 at 7:43 am

      But really, that statement begs the question, what is femininity?

  40. Jackii

    October 15, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    Interesting…

  41. Modupe

    October 15, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    Awesome write-up. I agree with 90% of the points Chimamanda discussed here, about how we raise and socialise girls. I’ll definitely take some of her points to heart.

    I already tell my daughter often that she has beautiful brown skin, and gorgeous curly hair. Because I know that she needs to know and be confident about her own beauty in a world where Disney princesses with straight hair are shoved in her face ALL THE TIME.

    I’m raising a son and a daughter. I will now be more conscious of how I let both of them express themselves. I will not expect the girl to be “nice” when the boy is not expected to be. I will also be mindful of the chores I tell my daughter to do and not my son.

    And so help me GOD, I will not in any way hint or tell my daughter that marriage, cooking, cleaning and pleasing a man are the main achievements that she should be aiming for in life!

    The only thing I would like to add, Ms Chimamanda, is that I think we should do away with the culture of “bride price” altogether. The concept of one person paying money and eye-watering gifts and demands from the family of a woman is abhorrent to the very notion of equality that we are fighting for. It still treats women like property that can be traded for an exchange of goods and money. And to refer to your article, the attitude of Chudi’s friend is the attitude of many men who feel that they have paid through the nose to “acquire” their wives, therefore she is their property now, and no longer her own person. She must not go out unless they say so. She must cook whether she wants to or not. She dares not say no to sex, whenever Mr Husband wants it. She cannot have her own property, travel, have a social life or anything else outside of his control.

  42. Aisha

    October 15, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    I do not believe Chimamanda ever insinuated that a man should not be the head of a home. Rather, what I think she is trying to relay in her piece is that couples should understand their own unique marriage DNA and work with it in such a way that neither party feels any form of resentment.
    She did not come out to say she supports gay marriage; rather, she has a stance of do you, even though I may never understand why you have chosen this path, seeing that I grew up with a mum and dad, as did everyone else, and this is the natural order of life and sustainability.

  43. truthie

    October 15, 2016 at 6:46 pm

    Doffing hat for you oh, your father didn’t waste school fees on you at all. The most intelligent articulate piece I have read this year. I agreed with almost everything except two lines but brilliant still, absolutely brilliant. I really wish our society will change, even if just a little. First we need graduates who can have opinions, and who can write this well. I was shocked that many graduates I met at nysc camp couldn’t fill out a form without help. That so many of our graduates, esp women cannot join any intellectual conversation, any at all except that about men and marriage is disturbing.

    Too much emphasis on marriage ohhh, marriage. Viewing it as a deep personal failure for the not yet married and so on, And because of this women make terrible choices while men win and gloat about their excapades.

    I agree with not teaching young girls to be nice and respectful.. some were acting ‘nice’ to uncles and neighbors who molested them. Open your pant, and they will open because Uncle said so and they have to respect him. It’s so heart breaking.

    And how so many women want to be ‘liked’ – by men oh, by society oh, and many Igbo women want to be cheered as the best cook. Honestly most women see each other as competitors for the attention of men, the praise of men, the proposal ring and so on. I believe all these societal expectations and patriarchy creates division among women and unity amongst guys. Guys can discuss careers, pool resources together to start companies and so on. But women , no way. we are too busy being envious that ‘Chudi likes Pat not me’ to even work together.
    Chimamanda abeg does your husband have a brother? There is no way that guy was raised in this Nigeria and supports you so well. Hook a sister up naa.

  44. [email protected]

    October 15, 2016 at 6:47 pm

    I find this very thought-provoking, it has challenged me to look really closely at many things i have hitherto accepted as NORMAL.
    Chimamanda is a very intelligent and reflective woman, I am in awe of her.

  45. Obiageli

    October 15, 2016 at 7:21 pm

    Ever since the whole Beyoncé debacle and even before that , I’ve lost all enthusiasm for CHIMA. She really does come across as patronising and preachy . I read the prelude or synopsis and I feel it’s not for me because I got my common sense which is based on My particular life experiences. So no Newton Eureka moments here for me. However I do appreciate that for some newbies to the ancient ministry of feminism this pop version could be quite inspiring. It would be nice to see Nigerian single girls standing up to these feminist values when it comes to actual dating and not just on blog sites.

    • Weezy

      October 17, 2016 at 11:04 pm

      Move over so I can share that boat with you.

      Chimamanda’s voice is powerful, as a Nigerian writer, and I admire her novels. But I’m not entirely wowed with this. It seems …rushed and out of nowhere, like she wants to divert attention from the Beyonce thing.

      I don’t think its good writing – its too long and includes too many examples, and doesn’t get to the point. Its also a bit weird that she keeps naming her friends that she did not agree with – remember when Chudi said, remember what Ndidi did. I also find it odd that something this length is a public facebook post and not an article (which would be well-edited).

      Before anyone comes to harass me, I am a feminist, independent and don’t believe in male headship. Its not about her concepts, its about the delivery and the deliverer. As an aside, I think Chimamanda needs to chill on doling out too many opinions and advice in media. Not because she is a woman, but because she is a writer. Think about it – is there any good prolific fiction writer that frequently comments on popular culture and politics and gives interviews AND still writes good books that sell well? I read a lot, and I cannot think of one writer who is a politically popular as Chimamanda and constantly in the news who in the long-term continued to write well. Maybe she is introducing a new paradigm for writers. Me I think her works should sell on their own merit. Not because she is “Chimamanda Adichie, rare nigerian feminist, Beyonce denier”. Her works should be appreciated because the writing is undeniably good and makes you think. In my humble opinion, Chimamanda needs some competition so that the media / public stops relying on just her as the voice of nigerian/african feminism/intelligent women/immigrant, etc.

  46. Wanderlust _Trekeffect?

    October 15, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    Beautiful! Loved it

  47. Mz_Danielz

    October 15, 2016 at 8:40 pm

    Can we all just breathe for a while. All these thesis untop wetin? Let’s just teach our children to fully love and accept themselves and treat others fairly, the rest will call into place. There are a lot of women who don’t cook or clean and the homes are peaceful. If you love and accept yourself fully and find someone that loves you back, you guys will work out the roles subconsciously so long as you are honest and treat one another with respect and if abuse starts, just leave, shed your tears, heal fast and don’t become an overnight motivational speaker posting quotes of surviving and winning. Just move on.

    All these thesis untop how to be a feminist, womanist, real African woman, real xtian/Muslim woman is tiring. Can we just let people be the best version of themselves? Everyone is at a different stage of life’s journey.

    Btw, men want to be liked by women too. Infact, it is an important need to them.

    Ngee baby it haff do oh, we have heard, your feminism is unique. Stop before you become a broken record.

  48. Zoha

    October 15, 2016 at 9:30 pm

    lol, how come nobody is pointing out that her evolutionary biology passively allowing women to be as randy /gross as men is wrong? No, more mates for woman does not ensure a stronger gene pool o please! well except her promiscuity is on the day of her ovulation and all then men are doing together. Thats a blunder. Im surprised there are no biologists or evolutionary scientist that picked that up. Thats my own.

  49. Uzo

    October 15, 2016 at 9:36 pm

    Great piece as always from Adichie. Reminded me of how I used to think as a girl and everyone around looked at me like an abnormal person. Though I don’t agree with all.
    Will never formally propose marriage to a man
    I Believe in waiting till marriage for sex
    I Accept my Hubby as team lead, first among equals
    I Do not believe in the difference of homosexuality
    But I loved it notwithstanding!

  50. Passingby

    October 15, 2016 at 9:37 pm

    all these my post wedding feminist after y’all kneel down to offer your husbands Palm wine at the trad wedding y’all out here being keyboard feminist. Even the single ones be cooking and a cleaning trying to impress perspective mama in laws looooool., pleeeease save the gospel to people who don’t place so much emphasis on male issues and marriage.

  51. Mr x

    October 16, 2016 at 5:56 am

    I couldn’t agree more. A nice piece. Thank you.

  52. Deep Soul

    October 16, 2016 at 8:59 am

    This is one of the best articles I have ever read.

    I am one of those women who does not like to clean or cook or do anything domestic and I can’t even apologise for it.
    You can’t force me to like what I don’t like.
    However, not liking it does not mean I won’t do it. I mean, my kids have to eat, right?

    So I simply employ someone else to do most of the heavy duty domestic work and pay for it from my pocket. I do it when I want to and I am not even ashamed of it
    I have noticed that a lot of women in Nigeria take pride in cooking and cleaning all day but some are silently dying from all the stress that bringshe especially when the husband contributes NOTHING in terms of domestic work.

    A lot of times, women are not even appreciated even after killing themselves. No thank you, I’ll pass.

    I’m all for contributing financially. But I will not spend all my waking momentso cooking and cleaning.

    I let my son play with dolls and cradle them, calling them “baby”
    I buy toy work tools for my daughter – hammers, saws, spanners.
    They can both play with whatever they find interesting!

    Like someone said, we should do away with the bride price tradition. It creates an unrealistic sense of entitlement to the men.

    There are too many valid points in this piece and I’ll definitely save it and read it over and over again

    I agree with just about everything she said except being accepting of different sexual views. While I have grown to “tolerate” a gay person, I’ll be crushed if my child turns out gay

    • john

      October 16, 2016 at 10:14 am

      well continue giving your son dolls to play and call baby and watch him turn into ur nightmare..why dont uou also go and buy your son some female clothes to wear and some makeup

  53. angela okeke

    October 16, 2016 at 10:04 am

    Ride on Chimamanda, am with you on this. I totally agree with your suggestions and am working hard to instill them on my daughter.

  54. Bokun

    October 16, 2016 at 11:44 am

    I read somewhere that there is a very thin line between lesbianism and feminism. I ANIT hating on the lesbians I’m just saying. The same article I read suggests that Some women are closet homos they don’t know Even realise they are gay. Maybe ladies need to ask themselves hard questions like do I really need a man in my life, or I’m I with a man just to fur fill social cultural expectations. Would I be more fulfilled in a lesbian relationship. The way I see it woman and men are different and have been equipped to deal with different roles. I have no wish to cross over into a mans role as I’m happy with my female role. That’s not to say other women might not want to venture into traditional male territories like providing etc. Just throwing a spanner in the works. Open to discussion.

  55. Tea Scotch

    October 16, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    Utter bilge!!!

  56. Maxine

    October 16, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    Too many labels flying around…. Overthinking things methinks…..

  57. fee

    October 16, 2016 at 8:06 pm

    I am female and I am glad I am completely indifferent about this feminism sh**.

    Do what pleases you and try not to hurt anyone in the process. #My2cents

  58. Abiola

    October 16, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    The real feminists are the mathematicians, the engineers, the scientists that are females. Anybody can write, 9000 words or more.

    Chimamanda only started to reveal this bold and slightly petty part of herself after giving birth to a child. If she did all this as a single woman without the strength of being what society considers to be a ‘complete’ woman, I would listen more and have more respect.

    As it is, the very roles she is discarding as unimportant and the ones emboldening her to teach us all how to think.

    I am not a feminist. I believe in respect for all people. I believe black people should be treated well. I believe women should be treated well. I believe men should be treated well. When she described someone as “small in more ways than one”, how condescending. As in, small willy? Short? What if a man described a woman as such?

    Everyone needs to shutup about this feminism thing and go and breastfeed some babies and develop the economy and learn some critical thinking (not writing one-sided arguments that everyone is too scared to refute — anyone can do that).

    She talks too much and needs to take a seat and use her mind for critical thinking.

  59. The real Hadiza

    October 17, 2016 at 10:57 am

    So body should just explain fenemist for me , cos I don’t understand it and I really want to … For all I know man and woman are not equal we are unique in our diff ways , man is not better than a woman and women are not better than men

  60. Viv Law

    October 17, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    I read this article to the end and I feel blessed to have done so. And I have to say it was a very well invested 30 minutes.
    Kudos to Chimamanda the great, for being who you are and for teaching me to not be who or what society expects me to be. Thank you for encouraging us to be our true selves and pass on this way of thinking to those around us.

    I think it’s great that we share our experiences and what we have gained from being brave and pushing our comfort boundaries with each other. We could all learn so much.

  61. jennietobbie

    October 17, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    Thank you, Chimamanda for these diamonds in words. AMAZING!!!!I have printed and adorned my room with the glorious beauty in this piece. Thank you so much!!!!!!!

    Nwa anyi amaka, nwa anyi na-akpa ike!

  62. EbonyFre

    October 18, 2016 at 10:21 am

    Ahn ahn! Why so long. She should have just made it into a book.
    I can’t read abeg

    • EbonyFre

      October 18, 2016 at 3:49 pm

      Okay, so I read.
      NB: This comment is too long and should not be read :p

      ‘Men will be men’ as an idea of condoning ill-behaviour is truly disgusting.
      I won’t allow my girl child “act like a boy” sha (Like try to form she has a deep voice – except she naturally does, wear boy clothes – sag her shorts, hug like a boy, walk like a boy,…).
      It looks like I fall into the Feminism Lite group (based on the first example alone!) Lol. And when we say “A woman can be successful, but not too much”, how then do we measure “too much”?
      What maybe too much for you, may not be for me. We all know our limits and need to find the balance accordingly.
      “Hillary Clinton will be the next president of the United States. On her Twitter account, the first descriptor is ‘Wife.’ The first descriptor on her husband Bill Clinton’s Twitter account is not ‘Husband.’”
      When did Bios start starting with Wife,..
      That’s how I went for a wedding and the newly wedded girls were hugging themselves chanting “married woman, Mrssssss, someone’s wife” amidst laughter, oohs and ahhs. When they were done, they turned to the unmarried ones and barely said “hey”.
      I can never understand why that scene played out.
      When it was about 6, they started with “I have to go cook for my husband, Oh me too, People are waiting for us at home, My husband will soon stand calling, the rest of you guys should make the wedding after party fun for our friend – the bride).
      I love my name. If I like my husband’s surname I will change to his, otherwise, I’ll take on a compound surname with my maiden name. It’s my choice and my decision might change. But that’s how I see it, at least for now.
      It’s true o. Instead of ‘making hair’, “what did boys do on Saturdays?” Haha
      “That particular brand of shame that has to do with being female.” Haha. I love the way this woman writes.

      “If the justification for controlling women’s bodies were about women themselves, then it would be understandable. If, for example, the reason was – women should not wear short skirts because they can get cancer if they do. Instead, the reason is not about women, it is about men. Women must be ‘covered up’ to protect men. I find this deeply dehumanizing because it reduces women to mere props used to manage the appetites of men.”
      I COULDN’T HAVE SAID THIS BETTER.
      It irks me. I always have arguments with people on related topics. Why can’t the men control themselves? Why help them to help themselves to do what is right? Who helps the woman to help herself to do wat is right?

      Even though I do not agree with every word and every punctuation mark, this is a great piece. I still think it should have come in form of a small book :p

  63. Somadina Chidolue

    September 18, 2018 at 9:57 pm

    So I read the version that was published as a book. I remember nodding over and over in agreement, her insights into some issues are just mind blowing. This book gave me life lol

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