Katy Perry isn’t one, Lorde is. These days, most women feel passionate about where they stand on the feminist scale. Giving new depth to the term and explaining why we should all be feminists is Chimamanda Adichie, who features in our May issue, currently on shelves now.
The Nigerian writer gave a TEDx talk titled ‘We should all be feminists’ in which she explores how girls are taught to think while they are being raised and how these thought patterns need to be challenged. Chimamanda defines a feminist as ‘a person who believes in the social, economic and political equality of the sexes’.
Over the 30min talk, the author of the hugely successful book Americanah, explores the issues that women in Africa, and throughout the world, face. The central issue that the Orange prize-winning author addresses is how the different way in which girls are raised is damaging the economic and social prospects in Nigeria, Africa and the world.
Adichie, a former McArthur genius, talks about how different expectations of marriage are placed on women. ‘Because I am a female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Marriage can be… a source of joy and love and mutual support. But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same?’
With regards to boys and men, Adichie goes on to explore the important issue of sexuality. One of the most important moments during the speech comes when Adichie questions the way in which girls are raised with regards to their sexuality: ‘We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are. We teach girls shame. Close your legs, cover yourself. We make them feel as though being born female they’re already guilty of something. As so, girls grow up to be women who cannot say they have desire. They grow up to be women who silence themselves. They grow up to be women who cannot say what they truly think. They grow up – and this is the worst thing we do to girls – they grow up to be women who have turned pretense into an art form.’
When it comes to ambition she makes the following profound statement: ‘We do a great disservice teaching girls not to compete with men, why do we always teach them to be less than men. We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls “You can have ambition, but not too much”’.
Adichie encourages us all to focus on ability and interest instead of gender when raising children and to teach girls to stop being ashamed of themselves and, instead, to embrace who they are and to become strong individuals. Her words were so profound that the above quote was turned into lyrics for Beyoncé’s new pop anthem, Flawless for her surprise album that came out earlier this year.
Turn to page 72 of our #MayIssue, currently on shelves now, for Adichie’s argument against the status quo that smart women can’t love fashion.
Watch the video TEDx below: