28
Aug

Raising Feminists

Dear Ijeawele

Review of Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; Knopf 2017; pp 80

– Shana Susan Ninan

Author and essayist Adichie’s Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions is definitely a manifesto to raise sons as Feminists, too. This you-can-finish-over-breakfast book is a reply she gave her friend who’d recently birthed a girl and wanted to know how to raise her daughter a Feminist. They’re straight from the heart and very practical. Adichie’s words are thought-provoking but simple. It’s not laden with Feminist jargon nor tricky sentences. It’s warming, one mother’s experiences shared with another.

It starts off on two solid starting points: the first one is a premise that ‘I matter. I matter equally.’ The second is a question, ‘Can you reverse X and get the same results?’ and the example she cites for the latter is a powerful one – should a woman leave her husband as a response to his infidelity. And that if she were to sleep with another man, would her man forgive her, then her choice to stay in the first place can be a Feminist choice, too.

The very first suggestion lays the foundation for all the 15, that you should be a ‘full person’, not just a woman, a mother. Not to be defined by only one of the many roles a woman dons. She herself is an accomplished woman but doesn’t let the accolades haze her womanly and maternal roles. Her works have been translated into 30 languages and has won many national and international awards for her Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun and Americanah.

Being in the last few weeks of my second pregnancy I can only identify very well with the third suggestion about gender roles. Blue and pink for boy and girl babies! In Adichie’s opinion, toys and baby accessories should be arranged according to age and ability, not colour. The fourth one is apt – ‘Being a Feminist is like being pregnant. You either are or you are not.’ The watch-phrases tell her friend to teach her daughter to read, and to find pride in the African people and culture, to look for Black heroes and histories.

The most important is to talk about sex in the language of children, no shaming just open talk. Teaching about sex is teaching responsibilities. So beautifully compared. Parents of girls should be able to talk freely and share about anything and everything from periods and virginity to romance and sex.

 

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This entry was posted on Monday, August 28th, 2017 at 7:07 pm and is filed under Feminism, Non-Fiction, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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