Feminist is a dirty word but it doesn’t have to be. We Should All be Feminists should be required reading for middle school, the book is so short no one has a good reason not to read it. Seriously, it didn’t even take half my lunch break to read so I went through it twice.
“Some people ask: “Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?” Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general—but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded.”
Adichie expands on her viral TEDx Talk by drawing on her personal experiences of growing up in Lagos and the stories she’s heard from her American friends. I think all women have had moment when they felt belittled in response to their gender. She talks about an evening when she went out with a friend and, using her money from her purse, she tipped the parking attendant who turned around and thanked her male friend. I call this particular type of response as “little ladying” and it’s infuriating. A few month into my relationship with my now-husband I had a trip planned to visit some girls from college. My car was on its last legs so I rented a car to be on the safe side. I had my husband drive me to the rental place and he hung around while I figured out the details. The associate kept talking to him and not me until we pointed out my boyfriend would not actually be in the car in question at any time.
I think the part that stuck with me the most, and is a great lesson for young girls, is that being a feminist doesn’t mean hiding the parts of you that are female. Adichie admits that, when it comes to her appearance, the opinion she values the most is that of stylist women. Feminism is not synonymous with Butch. Feminists can, and do, love men. Feminism just means you believe men and women should be equal.