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“I don’t think of myself as an expert in feminism” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says as she Covers Stylist Magazine’s Latest Issue

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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Author and feminist powerhouse is the cover star for Stylist Magazine’s latest issue.

The author talks activism, high fashion and politics of motherhood in this new issue. The woman behind the quote on Dior‘s fast selling T-shirt “We should all be feminist” is as down to earth and gracious as ever as she answers questions thrown to her by Stylist Magazine’s acting editor Susan Riley.

Read excerpts from the interview:

We Should All Be Feminists is now mandatory reading for Swedish school students and two weeks ago inspired the opening speech at a European Parliament Women’s Economic Empowerment Seminar. Why do you think it continues to strike such a chord?

Because misogyny continues to thrive in the world; because gender inequality continues to exist, and I think that it’s very universal in the way that it speaks to something women all over the world identify with; it gives language to it. I have to say I was surprised by it – I didn’t think that it would have much of a reach when I gave that talk.

You’re now becoming as well known for feminism as you are for your novels. Is this intentional or a happy accident?

It’s not intentional. Certainly not. Because I’m a storyteller; that’s what I love to do, what I want to do, and what I think I’m here on earth to do. But feminism happens to be something I think is so important… I guess it is what it is. I don’t think of myself as an expert in feminism, and it hasn’t always been a pleasant experience; there’s a lot of hostility that comes with being a public face for something that is still, all over the world, a contested thing.

In an interview recently, you said: “Now I get invited to every damned feminist thing in the whole world”. Is that a source of exasperation, pride, or somewhere in between?

[Laughs] A very grey, murky area in between. I think it’s also because [while] I respect academic feminism and the kind of feminism that’s about conferences and things. I’m much more interested in the idea of gender as a lived experience, of stories and language, and how we change the way mindsets are. And so to be invited to every ‘bloody feminist thing’ just isn’t the plan. I’d rather be home.

Your words are, of course – as worn on our cover – emblazoned on the T-shirt of the season. How did that come to be?

A lovely handwritten letter came from Maria Grazia [Chiuri], who is the creative director of Dior, and I was utterly charmed by it. It was long and passionate; about how she’d read everything I’d written, and about her feminism and how strongly she felt that it was important today – especially for young women – to be out there about gender equality. As much as I love fashion, my first thought [about going to the show] was, ‘Oh no… I’ll be bored’. But I’m so glad I went because it was interesting; I felt like an anthropologist. And Maria Grazia was as lovely in person as her letter, and we had the most animated conversation. Then when the models who were frighteningly skinny were walking [the catwalk], I heard my voice from my talk. I didn’t know that would happen, so I was sort of taken aback, like what the hell?! But there was something really nice about it, you know?

What do you think the benefits are of being quoted by a fashion brand, and is there a downside?

I think what Maria Grazia wanted to do was obviously symbolic, so I don’t think that putting that on a T-shirt is going to change the world. But I do think symbolic things matter and symbolic things start conversations. Actually I remember after the show standing outside and hearing a man say: “I don’t know why that should be on a T-shirt.” And I was kind of amused by that. It made me think: maybe that’s why it’s on a T-shirt. Because you could tell there was a hostility about it. Do I think there’s a downside? No. I don’t. When it comes to feminism, it has to be mainstream.

Read more from Stylist Magazine

Photo Credit: Stylist Magazine

34 Comments

  1. inky

    March 23, 2017 at 10:43 pm

    I just respect how she’s always properly covered

    • Tina

      March 24, 2017 at 12:48 pm

      This chick is making too much noise these day. She should concentrate and channel her energy to writing a new book. It’s been awhile she wrote anything meaningful. People like this are the ones that knee down to serve their husbands dinner then come here to deceive young gullible ones who have destroyed their relationships and marriages all in the name of feminism. I believe in individualism, do what makes you happy. some women are happy and fulfilled being housewives dependent on their husbands while some like me also enjoy having a career. To each his/her own Abeg.

    • AfroVII

      March 24, 2017 at 2:32 pm

      Nothing precludes you from kneeling down to serve your husband IF that is what you chose to do. That’s what people like you don’t understand. I am a feminist, and I will bathe my husband with my tongue whilst lying down a hot coal surface if that is what I feel like doing.

      You won’t take the time to understand what feminist is about yet, you’ll make silly derisive comments about it. Like child brides are a myth, like single women aren’t being shamed, like the law is fair to men and women. Like all these things aren’t a factor and the world is kumbaya. Do you think the rights you enjoy today were handed to you because men got tired or that injustice suddenly became less fashionable? Or rather that women marched – Aba Women – That women drove, travelled and wouldn’t be quieted – Funmi Ransom-Kuti or that women gave their lives to ensure women had the vote?

      Yet you sit there at your computer, all these rights that your foremothers fought for and in tow and talk rubbish about a woman who is still on the mission to make sure your daughters are taught that they are less than because they are girls. Isn’t that something?

  2. Kelechi

    March 24, 2017 at 4:26 am

    The thing about this subject is that you can rarely make a stand against it without people labeling you patriarchy. I can’t handle it, I try as much as possible to be liberal but something like my wife earning more than me, will be quite devastating for me. I really wish I could have a 21st century view on these issues, but I can’t crack it. A letter to future wife
    “Always earn less than I do, I don’t care if it is 20 Naira less, just let it be less, not because I believe You and I are not equal, but due to the fact that I am who I am. and I promise to work hard to ensure this never happen”

    Yeah it is mainstream right now, but it wouldn’t be for long, and when the cookies crumble. I did remind you lots about how you contributed in emasculating men from doing what is expected. One things is certain, within the next decade more and more women will begin to learn that it was never easy being a man and how they downplayed chivalry. Until then, people like me will try to be feminist for, so I can recant these words “I told you so”.

    • Gina

      March 24, 2017 at 8:07 am

      You sound a lot like Chief. Just with a better command on grammar.

      So Kelechi riddle me this. If your wife earns less as at 1st year of marriage and then 3years in, she gets a pay increase that makes her the higher earner, what are her options?:
      1. Refuse it (that will be an interesting meeting with HR)
      2. Find another job and demand a lower salary than what she’s worth
      3. Accept it, but hide it from you as much as she can
      4. Stop working altogether to ensure you’re not emasculated

      For a man, the only option is one and will always be one:
      1. Accept the pay rise. The end.

      This is why we need feminism. So that in our careers, in politics and other areas, we don’t have to sing and dance around options just because of our gender.

    • Kelechi

      March 24, 2017 at 8:37 am

      I never said it is right to deny her chances to earn more. It is more of my personal flaw than what is right. Interestingly, there is a fifth option, She should take the salary increase, and given me the difference in salary.

    • Chief

      March 24, 2017 at 11:21 am

      @Gina…Keeping checking my grammar Prof Obahiagbon…The fact is many high earning women lose respect for their husbands.Men are suppose to be hunters and providers.Most men do not feel at ease(I, my self included)being provided for by their women.

      Yes i think it is wrong for a woman to earn more than her man because ambitious women are dominating,manipulative,abrasive,arrogant,argumentative and uncontrollable.Culturally,the African culture believes that the man is the king of the home and we all know that a throne comes with the ability to provide.As a real man i do enjoy providing for my family.It gives me a deep satisfaction that i’m allowing my woman to earn less than me…period

    • Iris

      March 24, 2017 at 1:06 pm

      I think Kelechi’s a bit better. At least he acknowledges that what he wants isn’t exactly right. It’s just how he feels and he’s honest about it. That other one you compare him to has psychological issues because as he marinates in his chauvinism like a half dead fish that has been thrown back into the ocean, he actually believes he is correct. *Hiss*

    • Diamond

      March 24, 2017 at 7:05 pm

      @Kelechi, but that will be your wife paying you. Meaning: she is your boss.

      I find it selfish+greedy that you have a problem with your wife earning higher, but you have no issues with her giving you her salary. Arghh, make ur type no come my way, I no fit abeg.

    • Poesy

      March 24, 2017 at 9:50 am

      “She should take the salary increase, and given me the difference in salary..”
      Read over your words and rethink your logic.

    • Chief

      March 24, 2017 at 12:57 pm

      @Gina…Keep checking my grammar Prof Obahiagbon…The fact is many high earning women lose respect for their husbands.Men are suppose to be hunters and providers.Most men do not feel at ease(I, my self included)being provided for by their women.

      Yes i think it is wrong for a woman to earn more than her man because ambitious women are dominating,manipulative,abrasive,arrogant,argumentative and uncontrollable.Culturally,the African culture believes that the man is the king of the home and we all know that a throne comes with the ability to provide.As a real man i do enjoy providing for my family.It gives me a deep satisfaction that i’m allowing my woman to earn less than me…period

    • Pippy

      March 24, 2017 at 4:00 pm

      Chief always sounds like he has a small p*nis and needs to beat his chest King-Kong style, to keep reminding us that he is an almighty MAN.

    • mz_danielz

      March 24, 2017 at 11:54 am

      While I don’t agree with Kelechi, I understand where he’s coming from. His idea of being a man is earning and being able to provide and a woman not needing him financially is the issue not necessarily how much she earns so the smart thing will be for the wife to downplay her salary. Win-win, she gets to receive allowance from hubby making her richer, she lives longer cos she never worries about money and she invests for her future generations.

      But uncle Kelechi, feminism isn’t about how you and your wife choose to live except in cases of abuse or trampling of potential but it is the belief that men and women are equal but still different (so see, there’s a place for chivalry still). I understand that sometimes, feminism looks like we’re just shouting and trying to emasculate men (this is probably because a lot of females refuse to talk about feminism untill they are heartbroken or get to marriageable age and start acting ‘I don’t need a man’ making it look like all feminists are bitter angry people) but feminism is a movement that benefits all positively in the end because it calls on men and women to be the best version of themselves treating each gender with equality and respecting differences. It’s like religion, there are different sects and beliefs, bitter and angry ones, happy ones, extremists but then the central belief ‘that there’s a force that controls the world and demands that we treat one another with love and respect’ is a good one but people have still managed to mess that up.

      Think of feminism as what is found in the book of Genesis.

      ‘so God man man in his own image, in the image of God created he him . Male and female created he them (this talks about their differences) and God blessed them and said to them ‘be fruitful, multiply….. and have dominion….. (this talks about their equality and right to attain their highest potential).

      I pray God gives Kelechi wealth so that he can provide for his family and the wisdom to be a good husband if God’s plan for your wife is that she at a point in her life earns more than you. Wanting to provide for your family is an admirable trait in a world where men spend their wives money, maltreat them and still scream ‘I am the man’.

    • Iris

      March 24, 2017 at 1:08 pm

      Bless you for this. Let he who has ears hear. Unfortunately many will not.

    • lol

      March 24, 2017 at 1:01 pm

      Give you the difference! ?? your father, I repeat am, your father! Perhaps she can up her contribution to the joint account. I’m a feminist but whether you are a feminist or not, your worth shouldn’t be based on something like that which is out of your control x

    • uncle kelechi

      March 24, 2017 at 2:44 pm

      I am a woman and I don’t want to be a man. If I am more intelligent than you, smarter than you, more resourceful than you, as a man, I don’t see why I cannot be your boss. (scoffs), It’s not about being a man or taking a man’s position, hell to the no, it’s about being given equal opportunities as human beings. It doesn’t stop me from loving and respecting my husband and it’s sure as hell doesn’t stop me doing my best in kicking anybody’s a** (man or woman) as far as meaningful achievement goes (and I mean that in the most respectful way)

    • Tobi

      March 24, 2017 at 3:44 pm

      See kelechi my issue with men like you is that you want to eat your cake and have it. What you need to do is work hard earn enough to provide for your wife so that she doesn’t need to work. But instead you want a woman to contribute to the household income but she needs to earn less because if she earns more your ego will wither and die. You have a multifaceted problem. You need simultaneous deliverance prayers from an Imam, pastor, native doctor Catholic priest all your friends.

  3. Awning

    March 24, 2017 at 4:55 am

    What a clever girl!

  4. Nakoms

    March 24, 2017 at 6:26 am

    I don’t think anybody can be an expert on feminism because of social and cultural nuances that exists across the world. Indeed the very attempt to “globalise” feminism and arrive at a coherent definition has unwittingly made the word to appear dreadful.

    Chimamanda herself would understand this following the backlash over her commentary on transgender women. I was quite amused seeing her clarify (and backtrack) her position on the issue after the uproar in the west; twas quite out of character for our otherwise bold and finger wagging amazon. The moral of that fiasco is that feminism is experiential, and better explained within cultural boundaries.

    Non can negotiate the landmines inherent when they try to intellectulise or globalise feminism!

    • Weezy

      March 24, 2017 at 10:20 pm

      Well said.

  5. Spunky

    March 24, 2017 at 9:21 am

    Prof-Check up the word “feminism” in the dictionary.
    Student- chimamanda Adichie

    Soon, very soon…

  6. john

    March 24, 2017 at 9:37 am

    exactly..it was funny watching how she backtracks and clarifys after the backlash from the west..if the backlash was from Nigeria , she will be forming wonder woman..a typical house nigger , they all talk rubbish to pacify and please their white audience .she and ben carson are the same , the only difference is that she serves a liberal white master and ben Carson serves a conservative white master
    .all na white ..and if tomorrow those white people discover someone better or she talks out of turn again..all those Endorsements and invitations will dissappear like a ghost.. they will bundle her ass so fast and dump her at Nzukka but as for now,let her married self with children continue deceiving gullible Nigerian women like sugabelly,hadiza and co

    • Pinkfriday

      March 24, 2017 at 3:43 pm

      @John and @Nakoms No she did not back track she only explained in plainer terms (for the simpletons) what she meant and she was not wrong. You refuse to listen, you refuse to understand, Some people will rather stay ignorant

    • Diamond

      March 25, 2017 at 1:35 am

      Chimamanda didn’t back track oO. She only clarified what she said. As a matter of fact, she stood by her earlier comments. And she is right. Trans-women are trans-women. Their issues are different.

  7. jess

    March 24, 2017 at 10:40 am

    @Kelechi we trying to erase your mind set along with the mindset of other people that believe, women should not go to school, women are tools used at the disposal of men, women should work twice as hard as men to get to certain positions, recently a lady was denied a job where I work though she was the better candidate because one of the Managers believed “she will sleep with our clients” in other words all women are whores, single women are second class citizens. The truth is that even some women have this mindset.

    We want a better future for our daughters. It will not be a smooth transition but a transition we need. The freedom we enjoy today did not come easy, people fought for it. This is our time to do same for our girls. Feminism would be interpreted in different ways by different people, but that does not change the meaning. Like the saying goes, we should all be feminist. We are all born by a woman.

  8. Nene

    March 24, 2017 at 10:49 am

    There is a God’s Ordained way of the human existence, which has always put the Man first before a woman. i am a Woman and i Vehemently say that Women are not Equal to Men. No World Religion Supports that. From the Beginning of Creation, Men has always been and will always be Superior to Women. No doubt, we all shouldn’t forget the fact that Women are Weaker Vessels and have bee Commanded to be Taken care of by Men. In fact both Christianity and Islam puts Men First before Women by Ordering us to be submissive to Men and also that Our Path to Heaven is Under the Feet of Men.
    I Implore us to keep this idealism to ourselves and stop “Preaching about Women’s equality to Men”. This ideology has broken so many homes and we are not careful, it may leave us crumbling away from the from the realism of the Human Existence.

    • Ekushe

      March 24, 2017 at 1:51 pm

      I don’t know about Islam, but in the bible, it’s ‘Wives be submissive to your husbands’ and a few verses down, Except you mean every man is your husband and even if that were the case, the bible still says ‘submit yourselves one to another’.

      Funny how people like to quote letters from the Epistles (of course under the inspiration of the Holyspirit) but forget the words from God’s mouth at creation

    • Pinkfriday

      March 24, 2017 at 3:48 pm

      The Bible also states that Man submit to their wives and love them like Christ loved the church ( Christ died for the Church) please stop with your one sided preaching.
      And please show me what part of the Bible that states Man and Women aren’t equal? I’ll wait. I’m tired of you people and your thinking. My days

  9. Ifeyinwa Atuanya

    March 24, 2017 at 10:56 am

    I wish “na m na asu oyibo ka gi”

  10. rain

    March 24, 2017 at 11:57 am

    She looks like a transgender in that picture…..always making noise about feminism ….most times stupid talk

  11. Nv

    March 24, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    May God bless you for that respectful, informative and kind reply @mz daniels!!!

    • mz_danielz

      March 24, 2017 at 2:17 pm

      Amen oh.

      I need to get a Venza or Cross tour by December regardless of what the dollar says

  12. Diamond

    March 25, 2017 at 1:35 am

    Chimamanda didn’t back track oO. She only clarified what she said. As a matter of fact, she stood by her earlier comments. And she is right. Trans-women are trans-women. Their issues are different.

  13. Fierce

    March 25, 2017 at 3:37 am

    RESPECT

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