You are a leading feminist voice and an internationally renowned author. Your book that started out as a letter to a friend who asked for advice on how to raise her new-born daughter to be a feminist, is not just a good book, it is a necessary book – for everyone. Mothers, fathers, sons and daughters.
There is no doubt about it. To live in this world a girl has to be strong. But where does inner strength come from? And how can we pass on this quality?
Your fifteen suggestions on how to empower a daughter to become a strong, independent woman are short, sweet and massively impactful. Like:
Have no gender roles – “Because you are a girl is never a reason for anything. Ever.”
Teach your daughter to love books, to read
Question language – that includes language that revers and champions women with a patronising undertone.
Marriage is not an “achievement”
Reject likeability – “it’s not your job to be likeable. It’s your job to be yourself”.
You discuss feminism, body image, gender roles, privilege and inequality, and 21st century sexual politics.
I particularly like the advice to avoid conditional female equality or Feminism Lite which you consider a “hollow, appeasing and bankrupt idea”. It uses the language of allowing, where men, through their benevolence, allow women to do things, or through their superiority, treat them well.
You either believe in the full equality of men and women or you do not.
Like a lot of people who have read this book, I feel a whole lot better about the world. So thank you for your advice.
For another essay book on the same subject, by the author, try We should all be feminists.
Title: Dear Ijeawele, or, A feminist manifesto in fifteen suggestions
Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
Reviewed by Suneeta N, Highland Park Library
Suneeta N particularly enjoys biographies, travel stories and reading authors from around the world. She loves a good discussion and believes that everybody has a story worth telling.