Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions
I'm very tired today. Not because of anything but the world I live in. So much burden from the family. Parents expect kids to get married, to eat to look apart to get married (again!) so I turned to my book as a safe haven.
This is a letter Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wrote for a newborn daughter of her friend with the ultimate goal: To raise her a feminist.
1st: Be a full person. Motherhood does not define you. You are already full before the baby and she/he benefits from it.
2nd: Do it together (with your partner).
3rd: Gender roles are nonsense. Your vagina does not pre-install your roles within the household. Marriage is not the prize of a woman so she does not have to learn to cook to get the "prize". "Gender roles are so deeply conditioned in us that we will often follow them even when they chafe against our true desires, our needs, our happiness." Instead of letting her internalize gender roles, teach her self reliance first.
4th: Reject Feminism Lite which believes “men are naturally superior but should be expected to ‘treat women well”. No! Spot in the media, we still find something like the husband allows his wife be in the spot life. Meanwhile, if the wife is always in the position to support a successful husband.
6th: To question language as it is the repository of our prejudices, our beliefs, our assumptions. Start to use words that empower women and question what doesn't.
7th: Marriage is not an achievement. Be a Ms. instead of Mrs. and keep you name.
8th: Reject like-ability. Instead of teaching one to be likeable, teach her to be honest and kind.
9th: Have a sense of identity. Know your roots.
10th: Aware the role of physical appearance. Don't link it with morality, mainstream taste yet personal preference.
11th: Question the usage of biology to explain for social norms.
12th: Talk about sex early and don't link it with shame.
13th: Romance will happen. Love is the act of giving and taking. There is not one sided scarification. Take the initiative if one can.
“I was recently in a roomful of young women and was struck by how much of the conversation was about men – what terrible things men had done to them, this man cheated, this man lied, this man promised marriage and disappeared, this husband did this and that.
And I realized, sadly, that the reverse is not true. A roomful of men do not invariably end up talking about women – and if they do, it is more likely to be in flippant terms rather than as lamentations of life. Why?”
Is it because man is supposed to "promise" marriage but the woman isn't? Woman is playing victim in love game? Is it because us women consider marriage as an achievement while men don't.
14th: Learn about oppression.
15th: Value difference. Never to universalize your own standards or experiences.