#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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#wordsofwomenHH, 20 questions, blog features, march 2017, words from wise women, words of women

Words of Women 20 Questions: Abby Y.

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Inspired by this article from Words of Women, I decided to ask friends to take part in the questionnaire. It’s been so fun reading their answers and I’m excited to share them every Wednesday. If you want to participate, send me an email at aeallen (at) gmail (dot) com.

About the list of 20 questions by Sophie Calle:

Sophie Calle is a French writer, photographer, installation artist, and conceptual artist. Calle’s work is distinguished by its use of arbitrary sets of constraints, and evokes the French literary movement of the 1960s known as Oulipo. Her work frequently depicts human vulnerability, and examines identity and intimacy. She is recognized for her detective-like ability to follow strangers and investigate their private lives. Her photographic work often includes panels of text of her own writing. (Words of Women)

This week’s questionnaire comes from Abby Y., the rad lady I mentioned in this week’s Three Things. She’s an artist, writer, teacher, and magic personified. I think it speaks a lot to our relationship that we’ve actually never lived in the same city, but have a super close bond. Boy, am I thankful to live in a time when distance is just a thing on a map — or however that phrase goes. 😉 Anyway… Hey, ho! Let’s go!

When did you last die?

I died two weeks ago in the Netherlands when I was almost run over by a bicyclist zooming by and again when I walked around the Stededlijk Museum observing the fascinating inner mind and works of photographer Ed Van der Elsken (Camera in Love) WHILE listening to Kendrick Lamar’s ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ album.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

The idea that anything is possible and that it will be a great day and good things are going to happen. Also, creating.

What became of your childhood dreams?

They’ve always sat in some part of my brain. I get the sense that everything I have been working on for different segments of my life is going to come together in something that will feel like to me, an incredible symphony. Meaning I think my dreams will happen but it’s been a long road that required the right alchemy.

What sets you apart from everyone else?

I think people are far less big of a deal than they think they are. There are probably 750 different me-type people that are roaming the earth and we all like dogs, rollerblading, You’ve Got Mail, Beyonce and purple nail polish.

What is missing from your life?

Someone I wanna get old with. Well, a male that is.

Do you think that everyone can be an artist?

YES.

Where do you come from? Do you find your lot an enviable one?

We are Swedish and Dutch and Spanish and Irish and probably a few more things. We are dogged by depressional episodes and bouts of intensity and threads of creativity and whole lotta need for exercise and play. I think we are lucky to have and be who we are.

What have you given up?

Thinking that I know how this all will go.

What do you do with your money?

I don’t know, the government owns me.

What household task gives you the most trouble?

Any. I don’t mind a little bit of a mess.

What are your favorite pleasures? 

Sex, reading, laughing, wine, traveling.

What would you like to receive for your birthday? 

I want everyone I love to come spend the night in tents at our cottage in Wisconsin and stay up all night around a campfire and drink, talk and look at the stars.

Cite three living artists whom you love.

Marina Abramovic, Noor Unnahar, Casey Niestat

What do you stick up for?

Immigrants, women, children, animals, anyone with pure intention and heart of gold.

What are you capable of refusing?

Dessert things. I’m salt all the way.

What is the most fragile part of your body?

Oh boy, that heart. Feel it pinging all day long. Like a damn text message. I am very sensitive.

What has love made you capable of doing?

It has made me fly across the country and take big, uncomfortable chances. I have gone against convention time and again, to pursue things that seem true and magical. Have made many bad decisions, ignored wise advice and made myself sick with sadness or jealousy. Life has taught me that love (for the most part) should be kind and soft. Thank god!

My mouth.What do other people reproach you for? 

My mouth.

What does art do for you?

It’s church for me. It is seriously my tonic for a bad day. Grab a chocolate chip cookie, put some headphones on, turn music up and sit in front of the giant Buddha at the Nelson for 20 minutes. Reprieve.

Write your epitaph.

That’s enough.

In what form would you like to return?

Blue Ivy Carter, hands down.

Love you, Abby!!

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April 2017, books, copywriting inspiration, poetry, read it love it, saw it loved it, the future is female

Three things.

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Every day I’m so blown away by the incredibly talented women in my life. (I’m spoiled.) One of the most talented ladies I know is Abby Yemm, whom I met through this very blog. (I don’t tell this blog “thank you” enough. Thanks, blog! You’re one of the best things I’ve ever decided to do!) Back to Abby, she’s hilarious, wildly creative, and she writes rad stuff. Like this piece from Domino Mag, 10 Books to Buy for Their CoversI mean, need I say more beyond, “be still my heart.”

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Balloons + poetry = one of my new favorite mediums.

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IKEA consistently has some of the best ads. I love this one about a “Couple” of Sheepskin Rugs.

It turns out the anthropomorphic floor covering, who lives in an apartment complex with its significant other (also a rug) and its puppy (a $10 step stool), is on a very special mission. (AdWeek)

 

Happy April! xx

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#wordsofwomenHH, 20 questions, blog features, march 2017, words from wise women, words of women

Words of Women 20 Questions: Claire M.

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Inspired by this article from Words of Women, I decided to ask friends to take part in the questionnaire. It’s been so fun reading their answers and I’m excited to share them every Wednesday. If you want to participate, send me an email at aeallen (at) gmail (dot) com.

About the list of 20 questions by Sophie Calle:

Sophie Calle is a French writer, photographer, installation artist, and conceptual artist. Calle’s work is distinguished by its use of arbitrary sets of constraints, and evokes the French literary movement of the 1960s known as Oulipo. Her work frequently depicts human vulnerability, and examines identity and intimacy. She is recognized for her detective-like ability to follow strangers and investigate their private lives. Her photographic work often includes panels of text of her own writing. (Words of Women)

This week’s questionnaire comes from a friend I’ve had since my college days. Claire has always inspired me with her fantastic humor and brilliant writing. I mean, she is a rad journalist, published NPR-ien (is that a thing? now it is), and she won a year’s supply of La Croix water. The woman is amazing.

When did you last die?

What a starting question! But it made me think about how I view my life and transformations within it. I’ve gone through many phases and chapters where not only life circumstances change, but my personality dramatically shifts. When those different versions of myself  change, it could be looked at as one version dying and a new one emerging. And with that in mind, I’d say I’m in the middle of one of those major shifts, so I guess I’m dying right now 🙂

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

The paycheck and health insurance on the other end of the commute. Otherwise I’d be laying around listening to podcasts all day.

What became of your childhood dreams?

They became my adult dreams. I always wanted to be a writer, which I do now.

What sets you apart from everyone else?

My wit.

What is missing from your life?

Contentedness. I desperately want to be in a place where I’m living in a place where I want to be in long term, and in personal and professional situations where I see myself in years down the road.

Do you think that everyone can be an artist?

Of course! There’s creativity and beauty in everything. I hope there are accountants who look at a spreadsheet and see it as a masterpiece, just like a potter would walk away from the kiln feeling.

Where do you come from? Do you find your lot an enviable one?

My family is a group of very different thinkers. Our interests, world views and opinions are all very different. While that can be hard to relate to, it’s taught me the importance of listening to those different from you. It’s taught me that ignorance is dangerous, because if we refuse to be near and even love people with dramatically different views than ours, we’ll never understand our world.

What have you given up?

Making decisions because it will “look” like the right choice, the fun choice, the most “Instagrammable” choice

What do you do with your money?

Travel! I live modestly in my day to day life so I can regularly take weekend trips and vacations to visit friends and explore new places.

What household task gives you the most trouble?

Cleaning surfaces.

What are your favorite pleasures? 

Grocery shopping, being in the woods, laughing with a girlfriend.

What would you like to receive for your birthday? 

A weekend away in a cabin where I could cook, read and relax.

Cite three living artists whom you love.

Anne Lamotte (writer), Phoebe Robinson (comedian), Viola Davis (actress)

What do you stick up for?

Listening to others, even if you don’t want to.

What are you capable of refusing?

Power.

What is the most fragile part of your body?

My mind.

What has love made you capable of doing?

Recognizing my own flaws and shortcomings, and making efforts to change.

What do other people reproach you for? 

Making snap judgments.

What does art do for you? Write your epitaph.

Art reminds me of the beauty and joy that exists in all of us and in the world.

Epitaph: She always bought lemonade from kids.

In what form would you like to return?

A 9-year-old girl, who has all of the unabashed confidence, resilience, and joy that most grown women long to get back.

Thanks so much, Claire! Come visit Hamburg!

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anxiety, dear sugar, life lessons, march 2017, read it love it, three things, vulnerability, words for the heart

Three things.

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After two months of having been without our beloved Patrick, I’m able to look at dogs again without bursting into tears… well, usually. This dog, Rusty Rodas, has an Instagram and it is epic.

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There are many things I love about Man Repeller. But far above all the reasons lies Leandra’s courageous honesty. Her life, personality, closet—all can ignite a flame of jealousy in the best of us, but that’s not her intention. You just know it from reading her words. She genuinely wants to have a community within Man Repeller. She cares. She wants you to know she’s just as real as her readers. And in a time when Instagramming and Blogging have taken a turn for the unattainable—perfect homes, “little ole papas & mamas,” and unblemished images—it’s so effing refreshing. No matter your home, your lot in life, your career, your closet… we are all humans. And being a human is hard. Why deny it? So thank you, Leandra. Thank you for your openness. And thank you for plucking this issue right out of my heart (and brain for that matter).

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I’m rereading Tiny Beautiful Things for what seems like the hundredth time. It’s just as good as the first time. And just as relevant as ever. Here are 10 of the best entries from the Dear, Sugar column (of which the book is compiled).

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#wordsofwomenHH, 20 questions, blog features, march 2017, words from wise women, words of women

Words of Women 20 Questions: Lena S.

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Inspired by this article from Words of Women, I decided to ask friends to take part in the questionnaire. It’s been so fun reading their answers and I’m excited to share them every Wednesday. If you want to participate, send me an email at aeallen (at) gmail (dot) com.

About the list of 20 questions by Sophie Calle:

Sophie Calle is a French writer, photographer, installation artist, and conceptual artist. Calle’s work is distinguished by its use of arbitrary sets of constraints, and evokes the French literary movement of the 1960s known as Oulipo. Her work frequently depicts human vulnerability, and examines identity and intimacy. She is recognized for her detective-like ability to follow strangers and investigate their private lives. Her photographic work often includes panels of text of her own writing. (Words of Women)

This week, I have a fantastic questionnaire from Lena S., a coworker-turned-friend. Lena is never without a smile, has a great laugh, and is a super rad human all-around. Let’s get to it!

When did you last die?

This is the first question but I left it unanswered till the end. And still don’t know what to say. Maybe I am not spiritual enough to form an adequate response.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

The prospect of a good day ahead. I’ve realized that it’s on me to either plan at least one thing I can get excited about or get excited about one thing I have planned. Both work.

What became of your childhood dreams?

I’m very bad at remembering specific things from my childhood. Like when I read memories and people write about something that happened when they were five in vivid detail, I just can’t help thinking they can’t possibly remember that! I’m haven’t ever been someone who sets hard goals… more “whatever happens, I’ll be okay with”

What sets you apart from everyone else?

Maybe my willingness to change my opinion when presented with convincing arguments. Also I’ve never been someone to hold a grudge.

What is missing from your life?

Meditation! I am convinced it would help my mental well-being a lot but have yet to make the time to integrate it into my life. I’ve already downloaded the Headspace app. So we’ll see.

Do you think that everyone can be an artist?

Yes!

Where do you come from? Do you find your lot an enviable one?.

I’m from the outskirts of Hamburg, from I a town I think is utterly boring and lacks character. We bought my childhood home and the property it is on from my grandfather. He and my dad then had a feud that spanned decades over the backyard which was resolved last year. So now it’s actually quite nice and spacious there… Alas, it is still in that same town, so I would not consider it enviable. I’m not even sure that was the question, so…

What have you given up?

Time… carefreeness.. and the ability to play The Sims for hours on end without feeling guilty. Which, I guess goes hand in hand with the other two.

What do you do with your money?

Spend it on food, for the most part.

What household task gives you the most trouble?

Dusting! At least it would, if ever remembered to do it.

What are your favorite pleasures? 

Spending a whole day doing whatever I want. This does not happen very often because I work almost every day, but when it does: it’s heaven. I love creating things. I have recently taken up sewing again and signed up for a knitting course at the Volkshochschule, which I’m positively giddy about.

What would you like to receive for your birthday?

A voucher for a massage (not by the hands of the gift-giver, but a professional one!)

Cite three living artists whom you love.

“And in my opinion (until I change it), life is best filled by learning as much as you can about as much as you can, taking pride in whatever you’re doing, having compassion, sharing ideas, running(!), being enthusiastic. And then there’s love, and travel, and wine, and sex, and art, and kids, and giving, and mountain climbing … but you know all that stuff already.” Tim Minchin

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?” 
Mary Oliver

“I want to be around people that do things. I don’t want to be around people anymore that judge or talk about what people do. I want to be around people that dream and support and do things.” Amy Poehler

What do you stick up for?

Everyone’s right to express their opinion and live the life they enjoy living – as long as they don’t deliberately hurt anyone in the process.

What are you capable of refusing?

Help, more often than I should, probably. I also got better at accepting or asking for it though!

What is the most fragile part of your body?

My knees. Everyone in my family has shitty knees and at 27, mine are starting to hurt with every step up or down a flight of stairs.

What has love made you capable of doing?

Accept mannerisms or opinions I don’t understand or agree with.

What do other people reproach you for? 

I tend to make more plans and set more dates with others than I actually have time for and then end up cancelling or combining them. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t.

What does art do for you? Write your epitaph.

Give food for thought.. enable me to look at things through the artist’s emotional or cultural lens.

“Life is not about grand gestures but is best lived finding beauty and meaning in the mundane.”

In what form would you like to return?

Bird, I think. Would love to experience what flying feels like.

 

Hear, hear on playing the Sims for hours on end, the Headspace app, and pretty much all Lena said! Amazing, Lena! Thanks so much for taking part!

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faith, poetry, words for the heart, writers

World Poetry Day 2017 || Max Ehrmann

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Yesterday, my dear friend Helen shared the following poem. Since reading it, I can’t get it out of my head. It’s beautiful, timely, and every time I read it, I feel as though I’m praying.

Max Ehrmann

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.

See past World Poetry Day posts here.

 

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