The Copy Editors’ Corner is a recurring feature of book reviews written by Mast Copy Editors.
HANNAH SOLTIS; Copy Editor; email@example.com
“We Should All Be Feminists” is an essay adapted from Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TEDx talk of the same name. Adichie uses a series of short vignettes from her life experiences in both Nigeria and the United States to point out the ways in which strict gender roles and power structures can negatively affect all people.
Each story highlights a different aspect of injustice that she or someone she knows has faced, from being ignored by waiters in restaurants to being excluded from having input in family decisions. Adichie’s writing is made even more complex by her integration of the (frequently misunderstood) concept of intersectionality, specifically of gender and race.
Not only does she encounter sexism or racism, but she encounters them both together in a way that shows the reality of dehumanization in many cultures.
In my opinion, the most powerful part of the book is Adichie’s examination of the word “feminist.” Over the course of the book, she discusses her personal understanding of what feminism means and the way that others have used it as a method at discrediting her point of view. Early in her life, she decides to call herself a “Happy African Feminist Who Does Not Hate Men And Who Likes To Wear Lip Gloss And High Heels For Herself And Not For Men” in an attempt to dispel some of the common stereotypes that the word “feminist” evokes in some people’s minds.
As she says in the title of the book, she believes that we should ALL be feminists because we can ALL understand the humanity of those around us in spite of (or because of) our differences.
Although the book is only 40 pages long, Adichie’s words offer a piercingly honest perspective of the way many societies around the world have been structured around disempowering or misrepresenting certain people. Those of you who are new to Pacific Lutheran University may have noticed that our school is in the ongoing process of trying to understand one another as complex humans regardless of our differences. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we fail, but there is a consistent push toward becoming a community that respects people even when we disagree.
Whether you identify as a feminist or you think feminism is oppressive, this book defines terms that you’ve probably heard but might not understand and can give you an insight into why people care so strongly about the subject. The book takes only about an hour to read and is available in the Mortvedt Library. You can even listen to the TEDx talk online if that’s more your style. I highly recommend you take a look at this book no matter who you are.
As Adichie points out, “All of us, women and men, must do better.”
Quick Facts: Book: “We Should All Be Feminists” (2015)
Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie