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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie We Should All Be Feminist Essay Questions



Pages:  49

Published:  July 29, 2014

Format: paperback book





This short essay by one of my favorite authors is based on a popular TED talk of hers, thus it reads like she is speaking to you.  I love and agree with the content.  I love how personable and relatable she is, how human and humble she can be, how honest and genuine she comes across in her writing.  I love her vitality of spirit and the way she infuses humor into her stories.  Maybe, though, I was hoping for more from this. Maybe, because of her easy manner, this seemed too obvious.  Yes, women have come a long way, yet there is much further to go.  Yes, there are deep cultural biases that put men early in life in more positions of power.  Yes, we need to raise our daughters and sons more equally, not hold them to different standards.  Yes, we need to begin to redefine gender.  It’s an easy, beautiful quick read with an important message.  Adichie’s manner of explaining feminism and what it means makes it understandable and relatable to everyone.  

Discussion Questions:

  1.  How does Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie redefine feminism?
  2. What cultural biases does she suggest that people have against feminism or people who call themselves feminists?
  3. Describe some ways you feel that your culture treats boys and girls differently.  At what age does this start?
  4. What are some ways we could try to effect change?
  5. Adichie discusses how women feel they need to dress like men in certain situations in order to gain more respect.  How did this make you feel when you read it?  Do you think this is because of the definitions we assign to gender within our society and culture?
  6. Adichie talks about feeling invisible at times.  Hosts of restaurants won’t look at her or address her.  Do you ever feel invisible because of your gender?

Review from The Telegraph

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi’s website

Chimamanda’s TED talk above.

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essayfeminismNon Fiction

We Should All Be Feminists was adapted from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's popular TEDx Talk of the same name. The Talk was first delivered at TEDxEuston, which is held annually in Great Britain and features prominent leaders and thinkers speaking about issues relating to Africa. Adichie's TED Talk argues that "feminist" isn't a bad word and that everyone should be feminist. She begins with a brief anecdote about her friend Okoloma, with whom she grew up. Okoloma was a great thinker and enjoyed debating Adichie about anything and everything. One day, during a heated debate, he called Adichie a "feminist." She didn't know what the word meant at the time, but understood that it wasn't a compliment. In fact, Okoloma was criticizing her. She never forgot this incident.

Many years later, Adichie published her first novel, Purple Hibiscus. It's about a Nigerian man who, though a public hero, has violent outbursts at home and beats his wife so mercilessly that she finally resorts to poisoning him in order to escape the abuse. When the novel was published, some Nigerian men, all strangers, advised her that she should never call herself a feminist, because feminists are all unhappy and hate men (according to him). This didn't lead Adichie to abandon her feminism. On the contrary, she embraced it, adopting the tongue-in-cheek label of Happy African Feminist Who Does Not Hate Men And Who Likes To Wear Lip Gloss And High Heels For Herself And Not For Men (a label that pokes fun at the old stereotypes about feminists). Adichie now refers to herself simply as a feminist, in part to defy these stereotypes.

Adichie then offers another anecdote about her childhood in Nsukka, Nigeria. In primary school, the teacher gave the students a test, promising that the student with the highest score would be given the title of class monitor. Adichie got the highest score, but the title was given to the next highest scorer, a mild-mannered boy. Surprised, Adichie asked why, and the teacher said the title was always going to be awarded to a boy—the teacher had assumed this would be obvious to the students. Sometimes, what Adichie thinks is obvious isn't obvious to others, as when a brilliant male friend of her initially fails to understand that the valet who thanks him for the tip Adichie paid for is being sexist, because he assumes that any money Adichie has must come from a man. This is representative of traditional Nigerian attitudes toward gender and money. Men are presumed to be the breadwinners, and as such men hold all the economic power.

Nigeria isn't the only country where sexism and money are...

(The entire section is 1083 words.)

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