Days after speaking at the WOW (Women of the World) Festival at the Southbank Centre in London, the resultant social media blow up is only just now dying down. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie holds almost rock star status among many groups and personalities that we follow. Cue the numerous threads quoting her most poignant statements and general affirming messages, which doubtless will sustain many for months on end.
Fans of the reluctant poster child for women of colour feminists are in luck as she has just launched a new book based on her We should all be feminists 2013 essay. Dear Ijeawele is a short book that is essentially a heart-felt response to a childhood friend of hers who asked Chimamanda’s advice on how to raise her baby girl as a feminist.
The book gives fifteen invaluable suggestions – compelling, direct, wryly funny, and perceptive – for how to empower a daughter to become a strong, independent woman. From encouraging her to choose a helicopter, and not only a doll, as a toy if she so desires; having open conversations with her about clothes, makeup, and sexuality; debunking the myth that women are somehow biologically arranged to be in the kitchen making dinner, and that men can “allow” women to have full careers, Dear Ijeawele goes right to the heart of sexual politics in the twenty-first century.
The conversational tone of the book gives the reader great insight into Chimamanda’s own brand of feminism. During a recent interview with The Guardian, she talks about double standards, including those governing the images of motherhood and fatherhood. She said:
“I think we need to stop giving men cookies for doing what they should do.” She goes on to explain that her husband, who needs less sleep than her, tends to get up in the night to tend to the baby. “On the one hand, I realise that my husband is unusual; on the other, I feel resentful when he’s overpraised by my family and friends. He’s like Jesus.”
Other excerpts in the book encourage the idea of being good to one self. To ask for help and debunk the idea of being a superwoman because the idea of “doing it all”, automatically characterises caregiving and domestic work as singularly female domains, an idea that she strongly rejects.
After reading this book, our love for this author is stronger than ever. Dear Chimamanda, thank you!
The book is available from all good bookshops. RRP: £10.