#AnnaReadsThis, books, essays, feminism, read it love it, the future is female

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s ‘Feminist Manifesto’

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Last weekend I found myself wandering around the bookstore, as so often is the case. I was absolutely excited when I saw they had Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s latest book of essays, Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions

In it, Adichie writes to a friend who asks her how to raise a baby girl as a feminist. This book is Adichie’s response. It’s gentle yet sharp; succinct yet poignant; and reads as though it’s a letter from your best friend.

The main proposition of “Dear Ijeawele” is that feminism is a project that necessarily binds mothers and daughters, and that raising a daughter feminist has as much to do with what you tell yourself as what you tell her. Ms. Adichie’s first of 15 suggestions places a mother’s freedom and growth at the center of a daughter’s feminist education.

“Be a full person,” Ms. Adichie writes. “Motherhood is a glorious gift, but do not define yourself solely by motherhood.” (The New York Times)

15.2

As an aunt, a once particularly conservative girl from the American Midwest, I found this book incredibly powerful. It made me face a few aspects of my own missteps and helped me reevaluate a few of my former philosophies and internalized patriarchal beliefs. And, more than anything, it helped me understand how to change my behavior in hopes of not instilling the same misbeliefs on my nieces & nephews.

Below are some of the lessons which most affected me.

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On feminism: 

“Your feminist premise should be: I matter. I matter equally. Not “if only.” Not “as long as.” I matter equally. Full stop.”

“Beware the danger of what I call Feminism Lite. It is the idea of conditional fenable equality. Please reject this entirely. It is a hollow, appeasing, and bankrupt idea. Being a feminist is like being pregnant. You either are or you are not. You either believe in the full equality of men and women or you do not.”

15.1

On marriage:

“Never speak of marriage as an achievement. Find ways to make clear to her that I marriage is not an achievement, nor is it what she should aspire to. A marriage can be happy or unhappy, but it is not an achievement. We condition girls to aspire to marriage and we do not condition boys to aspire to marriage, and so there is already a terrible imbalance at the start. The girls will grow up to be women preoccupied with marriage. The boys will grow up to be men who are not preoccupied with marriage. The women marry those men. The relationship is automatically uneven because the institution matters more to one than the other.”

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On being “liked”: 

“We teach girls to be likeable, to be nice, to be false. And we do not teach boys the same. This is dangerous. Many sexual predators have capitalized on this. Many girls remain silent when abused because they want to be nice. Many girls spend too much time trying to be “nice” to people who do them harm. Many girls think of the “feelings” of those who are hurting them. This is the catastrophic consequence of likeability. We have a world full of women who are unable to exhale fully because they have for so long been conditioned to fold themselves into shapes to make themselves likeable. So”

15.3

On “doing it all”:

Our culture celebrates the idea of women who are able to ‘do it all’ but does not question the premise of that praise. I have no interest in the debate about women doing it all because it is a debate that assumes that caregiving and domestic work are singularly female domains, and idea that I strongly reject. Domestic work and caregiving should be gender-neutral, and we should be asking not whether a woman can ‘do it all’ but how best to support parents in their dual duties at work and at home.”

On standards and differences:

“Teach her never to universalize her own standards or experiences. Teach her that her standards are for her alone, and not for other people. This is the only necessary form of humility: the realization that difference is normal.”

Teach her about difference. Make difference ordinary. Make difference normal. Teach her not to attach value to difference. And the reason for this is not to be fair or to be nice but merely to be human and practical. Because difference is the reality of our world. And by teaching her about difference, you are equipping her to survive in a diverse world.”

On love:

“Teach her that to love is not only to give but also to take. This is important because we give girls subtle cues about their lives – we teach girls that a large component of their ability to love is their ability to self-sacrifice. We do not teach this to boys. Teach her that to love she must give of herself emotionally but she must also expect to be given.”

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I really look forward to devouring Adichie’s other books in the coming months. I highly recommend this article from TIME,  if you’re new to Adichie, as well as this TED talk. And, I am especially pleased to now know what to gift everyone in my life for all upcoming occasions. 😉

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Three things.

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Happy Women’s History Month! I’m going to bring back Words from Wise Women — check out the archives here — who would you like to see featured? Also, check out this amazing infographic, “Women’s History: A conversation through time.” Looking for daily inspiration on rad women? Cup of Jane is a great follow.

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Sometimes I struggle with trying to explain my anxiety to friends and family. It’s not an easy thing to describe. My go-to metaphor is the “keeping your head above water while the waves keep growing.” So when I saw this article from The Mightya great resource for all-things mental health—I was really interested to see how others put it into words. #5 & 12. Too real.

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Words of Women, as always, killing it with their advice and insights.

The most important thing to do, however, is to pull yourself inward today and focus on the details in your life that need attention. We may feel worn out with the process and exhausted by our own resistance. It is time to take a breath, take stock, acknowledge what has been surrendered and see what pieces are left. What are the next steps you need to take to keep the momentum going? Sign up for the newsletter for tomorrow’s tips in using this energy to make the most of our week, month and year. Sign up here.

Seeing the Words of Women newsletter in my inbox always makes me happy. It’s beautiful for both the eyes and the heart. You won’t regret it, I promise. And this is coming from someone who usually hates newsletters.

 

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Bravo, Glamour Magazine. Kind of.

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Regardless of how you feel about the show GIRLS on hbo, you gotta admit it was pretty rad to find out that Glamour’s February issue was entirely created by women. That’s incredibly cool in an age where, in some segments of the magazine’s production, men still outnumber women (its sole audience!) two to one. Wild, huh?

So I’ll raise my bra to Glamour for this initiative, but I have three major concerns.

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  1. The fashion featured on the cover is all Marc Jacobs. (Need I say more?) Go Fug Yourself elaborates:

Fashionista’s article about this notes that every outfit is Marc Jacobs — which apparently means the issue did not extend its embrace to using only female designers, or at least using one on the cover, which seems like a big oversight. And unfortunately, nothing about Marc Jacobs’s designs here imbues much strength, or suggests anything tremendously confident to me, thus yielding a cover that is ridiculous and costumey and punctuated by the worst of shoes. (Those things aren’t a female force; if there’s an argument that they’re a subversive statement on the beauty standards imposed on female feet, I’m not buying it.)

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2. One of the main photoshoot themes was “fashionable slumber party” SLUMBER PARTY. (****insert one million eyerolls here****)

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3. I wish they had showcased more of ALL the women involved, including the journalist who interviewed them. Go Fug Yourself just gets it.

It’s a show created by a woman and with another female showrunner, both of whom direct many episodes as well. That thing is not male-gazing all over town, and in fact, I wish Jenni Konner had been included on the cover. She conducted the interview, and having her present would’ve neatly underscored that the brains behind the scenes are just as aspirational and vital as the ones in front of the camera.

But, all in all, it was a relatively refreshing initiative from Glamour. Here’s to seeing more of it in the future. My criticisms aren’t to discredit what Glamour has attempted to achieve here. I just believe they can be even better next time.

Onward & upwards.

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#WordsofWomen

I stumbled upon Words of Women one night during my nightly instagram perusing. I instantly fell in love with their feed. Then I learned they have a daily newsletter. Then I fell in love with finding a new article everyday in my email after lunch.

Because personally, I feel, the only way to be a peace with taking up space as an independent, 21st century woman, is to learn from those who came before me, and to fill my mind with words that carry us further.

Some of my favorite instagrams from W.o.W. //




Plus a few of my favorite articles… //

“A woman at a certain age who is unmarried, our society teaches her to see it as a deep personal failure. And a man, after a certain age isn’t married, we just think he hasn’t come around to making his pick.”

If Zelda Fitzgerald Was Crazy, What’s That Say About The Rest Of Us?

Zelda’s writing debut began with a review of her husband’s book The Beautiful and The Damned, in which she alluded to the fact that he got most of his material from her. This led to multiple offers to write for other magazines. Over the course of a 6 week stay at a psychiatric clinic, Zelda wrote an entire novel. When Scott read it, he viewed it as a semi-autobiographical account of their marriage and made her remove parts that drew on shared material he wished to use. The book would be published, yet who knows what missing parts could have brought the book to literary greatness.

Advice To Girls Starting High School (This Will Apply For The Rest Of Your Life)

The thing about high school is, you do learn a lot about the real world (even if it’s nothing like the real world). You learn what it’s like to be betrayed, lied to, confused and completely lost. You learn you can’t trust everyone and people who say are your friends can actually be the first to stab you in the back. You learn that the real world is a scary place and if you don’t start getting your act together, it’ll walk all over you. So whether you’re in high school, entering high school or can’t remember the name of you high school, these lessons will apply throughout your entire life.

And of course, sign up for their newsletter. I can say, without a doubt, this is the only newsletter I have ever be genuinely elated to receive daily.

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