The BUZZ: This pocket-sized book, all of 48 pages, has been holding its own on bestseller lists for months. It’s the transcript of Nigerian novelist Adichie’s 2012 TEDx Talk with the same title, a personal essay about what it means to be a feminist today.
The GIST: As Adichie writes in her introduction, she was hesitant to speak at the TEDx conference, but because it focused on Africa, and her brother was an organizer, she felt she had to. She was worried that some in the audience would not appreciate what she had to say. At the end, she received a standing ovation. What Adichie offers is a definition of feminism that applies to both genders. She asks us to be more aware of the language we use and the social norms we tacitly accept. She appeals to our universal sense of humanity and compassion and the desire most of us have to create a better, more inclusive world. With humor and logic, Adichie talks about the uncomfortable subject of gender and lays bare the faulty arguments that allow one gender to oppress another.
The WRITING: Forthright. I picked up this book at the bookstore counter because I loved the way it looked and I found the title compelling (and because Adichie’s award-winning novel Americanah is a favorite). Adichie speaks with clarity and passion, she’s direct and honest. She points out the obvious without blaming or shaming – and also without sugar-coating or apologizing. To be heard in this fractious world, it’s essential to find this balance point. Readers will get as much from what she says about feminism as how she says it.
BUY or BORROW?: Buy. Read it a few times and then pass it along. It deserves to be shared.
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.