We Should All Be F...

A primer to feminism: We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Let’s start with a clarification. Even though this is a book review, We Should All Be Feminists is not actually a book. It’s a complete transcript of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk by the same title.

But that’s part of what makes this text great. It remains short, at about 50 odd pages, so it’s an easy read for anyone. It remains accessible in language – it was, after all, meant as an oral narration, to be understood quickly and widely by a live audience. It also manages to cover several issues around feminism, within its short span – quite the achievement!

But for me at least, the real beauty of this piece is in that it is a point of view that’s not from USA or UK. It’s refreshing, and far more relatable to hear Ms. Adichie’s words, from a part of the world that’s culturally conservative, with strong views about appropriate female behaviour. It’s also refreshing to hear a point of view from a country that’s far from privileged, and where feminism has to be fought for in places other than cubicle walls and boardrooms. Where girls and boys aren’t treated at par in school or even the home. While reading We Should All Be Feminists, I found myself nodding along at practically every paragraph. Whether it’s how a teacher assumed that monitors had to be boys, or the mother concerned with teaching her daughter to cook but not her son, it all rang true (perhaps more so because I did attend a school where it was ‘tradition’ to have a boy as the school captain, and a girl as the vice-captain)

This is a great read for all kinds of audiences. Firstly, it’s good for anyone to begin engaging with feminism. It addresses some of the concerns we hear most often, including all the baggage that comes attached to the word ‘feminist’, for example, the fear that if you’re feminist, you should give up on some of the things you enjoy – make up, high heels, etc. It also refutes, simply and logically, some of the basic arguments that we repeatedly hear against feminism – that men are biologically stronger and hence superior, or even that women today aren’t really facing much discrimination.

Second, even for someone who’s bought into the idea of feminism, it’s a great reminder of the everyday battles that remain to be fought before we’re all treated equally, that everyone must remind themselves of, at least occasionally. Finally, and most importantly, it makes its (many) points without degenerating into a diatribe about the world, the state of women or an angry rant about men. It remains good humoured and realistically hopeful, and in a world where everything is vitriolic and divisive, it seeks to unite us all without shoving an agenda down our throats. And that, perhaps, is its biggest achievement, and the most important reason to give it a read.


Ketaki Rituraj

Ketaki is a brand strategist by profession, obsessive planner by nature, and intermittent social media lurker and writer.

Ketaki Rituraj