Really, “We Should All Be Feminists”


  For me, the idea of feminism used to be scary.

  People define “feminism” in hundreds of different ways. I never found a definition that sounded applicable to my own ideals. I do believe in treating everyone, no matter their race, religion, or gender, with respect and equality. I also know that as a girl, I have been raised to think a certain way and I am expected to follow certain standards that society has limited me with. But I had never called myself a “feminist.”

  After reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “We Should All Be Feminists,” I can honestly say, “Yes. I am a feminist.”

  Modified from a TED Talk Adichie gave in Africa in 2012, “We Should All Be Feminists” is her definition of feminism and really the story about how her ideals came to be while growing up as a girl in Nigeria. Or as I like to call it, 52 pages of pure feminism genius.

  The story began when Adichie was 14, and she was called a feminist for the first time by her childhood friend Okoloma. “It was not a compliment,” Adichie said. “I could tell from his tone ー the same tone with which a person would say, ‘You’re a supporter of terrorism.’” Aside from confusion, this was one of the reasons I was scared to call myself a feminist.

  Specifically in Santa Clarita, feminism has a negative connotation. People hear “feminist” and think of a woman who’s too liberal and hates men. I used to be afraid of what people would assume about me if I were to say it because that’s not who I am. But, Adichie put things in perspective when she said that “to choose the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender.” How could I deny this problem that I knew was real?

  Adichie makes many multiple important points about what specific problems exists concerning gender. She talks about how in America, a man and a woman are capable of doing the same job, but “the man is paid more because he is a man.”

  According to a study by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), women in 2015 were paid only 80 percent of what men were paid, a full 20 percent gap. This wage gap is not expected to close completely until 2152. Adichie believes that this gap exists because society considers men physically more able to lead than women. She points out that “Today, we live in a vastly different world. The person more qualified to lead is not the physically stronger person. It is the more intelligent, the more knowledgeable, the more creative, more innovative. And there are no hormones for those attributes. A man is as likely as a woman to be intelligent, innovative, creative. We have evolved. But our ideas of gender have not evolved very much.”

  According to the study, it is going to be another 135 years before society completely realizes this.

  I know from my experiences. I’ve seen the statistics. But how could I still not call myself a feminist by this point in the book?

  However, when I asked myself “What if, in raising children, we focus on ability instead of gender? What if we focus on interest instead of gender?” I realized that there is a huge problem with gender stereotypes and expectations because of the way all of us were raised. As girls, we were raised to think that we have to be pretty and act nice so boys will like us. For boys we teach them that they will be defined by their masculinity so they have to be “manly.” We should let children grow into the people that they actually want to be, not the people that society prefers.   

  Overall “We Should All Be Feminist” is the most influential and impactful short story I have ever read. It is engaging, informative, and relatable. They way Adichie connects her own stories to her main points is astounding. I have read it four times already and plan to read it again because Adichie is right: “All of us, men and women, must do better.”