“Some people ask: “Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?” Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general—but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women.”
This is a hard book to review because it is based off a TED talk and is in no way comprehensive when it comes to discussing feminism and its benefits.
My first impression of this little book is that I wish it was longer and went more in-depth on issues about feminism and gender. Since the book is already expanded from the TED talk form, I am disappointed that Adichie did not go into more depth to bulk the book up a little more. Hopefully this is just a starter point for her and she writes a more comprehensive book about feminism in the future.
What this book does have in it is great. Adichie quickly looks at some contemporary issues in gender that prove that feminism still matters. Her audience is people who do not think that feminism is needed and who believe that 21st century feminists are just angry men and women with an ax to grind. By looking at some parts of our culture that we just accept, Adichie shows that the fight is still going on and that now we are fighting against deeply ingrained cultural practices instead of for more obvious political rights. And that is what this book does best. Often times we need to be reminded of the gender issues that still exist in society that are not as obvious, but just as insidious as denying women the right to vote, right to work, etc.
I am aware that Adichie is not writing to me. Feminism is something that I am already interested in and something that I am dedicated to. The things she points out are issues that my fiancee and I talk about all the time. But Adichie is not writing to me. She is writing to those people in our society who use feminism like a swear word and throw it onto people to degrade them and discredit their viewpoint. Nothing proves that feminism is more needed in our world than the fact that people use the word as an insult to women who espouse those ideals.
That is what Adichie is trying to show, that we need feminism and that it is not a negative word. It is a system of thought that addresses real issues in our world that we take for granted. So it’s a weird little book to recommend. Clearly, everybody should read it, since it gives a good introduction to 21st century feminism, but people already familiar with feminist philosophy may find it lacking in many ways. If you consider yourself a feminists, read this book as a pallet cleanser, something to remind yourself why feminism matters but don’t expect anything new or groundbreaking. It also provides good talking points for discussions with people. Just make sure to recommend it to your friends who misunderstand what feminism means and think that we do not need it.