My Thoughts About Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Book Review #136)

So here’s another work from an author that I consider now as an authority when it comes to talking about Feminism. You maybe thinking that I am loosely using the word “authority” as I’ve only read two of his works but this author made me understand what feminism really is and is not, better than other authors. I do not consider myself as a wide reader of books relating to gender studies but Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie’s works made me want to read more about that subject. She introduced to me and made me understand feminism on her first book We Should All be Feminists which a topic that that was vague. So when I learned that she has another nonfiction book about feminism, I know I have to read it.

This book is about the suggestions given by the author to a friend, Ijeawele, who’s asking how will she raise her baby daughter to be a feminist. The author listed 15 suggestions that she believes that she considered as essentials to being one. The advise ranged from topics about body-image, identity, rebuffing likability, motherhood, parenthood, work, marriage, choosing your own identity over what the society dictates as the norm and to believing with one’s self without fear that other people will judge you.

“Your feminist premise should be: I matter. I matter equally. Not ‘if only’. Not ‘as long as’. I matter equally. Full stop.”
– Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions

I am really amazed as to how the author was able to point out and explain simple the way we interact with society that I considered as “normal” but definitely when one looks at it deeply those actions were set as norms by the society that shouldn’t be treated as that. Like for instance, girls being shameful of them having their periods and them apologizing about it, mothers thanking their husbands for taking a time to taking good care of their baby as it should be in the first place should be shared and associating boys with the color blue and girls with pink. This book changed how I perceive things around me. This book made me recognize what I can do to change it.

The author will make you acknowledge that there is indeed a problem with our society but at the same time she will make you believe that it’s never too late and that there’s still hope. I like how she was able to address this deeply rooted issue of gender inequality in a powerful but conversational way. The author has this way of educating people in a way that is not preachy. This tiny book is a testimony of what every girl or every person for that matter is still experiencing. Her points are direct and and not pretentious. It didn’t occur to me that she’s this Ms-Know-It-All author. She acknowledges that everyone is not perfect and even her has flaws. She embraces those flaws and wants everyone to do the same. Part of the process of embracing the truth is also being open to change: a change in the system and a change in how we view genders. In this book what she did was to just share his wisdom and just the simple truths on her observations about our society by which I totally agree.

Feminism is all about being empowered, strong willed and informed. Feminism is about equality, giving equal opportunity. No one should feel inferior to others. Everyone should have the right to have access to equal opportunities regardless of who they are, their background and their gender. ““Because you are a girl” is never a reason for anything. Ever.” Like what the author hopes the Ijeawele’s baby girl will be, I hope that there will come a time when all babies grow up “full of opinions, and that their opinions will come from an informed, humane and broad-minded place”.

“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.

She must know and understand that people walk different paths in the world and that as long as those paths do no harm to others, they are valid paths that she must respect. Teach her that we do not know – we cannot know – everything about life. Both religion and science have spaces for the things we do not know, and it is enough to make peace with that.

Teach her never to universalise 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.”

5 stars out if 5.


Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Release Year: March 2017
Publisher: Anchor
No. of Pages: 63 pages

About the Author:

chimamandaChimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian author. Her best known novels are Purple Hibiscus (2003), Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), and Americanah (2013).

She was born in Enugu, Nigeria, the fifth of six children to Igbo parents. She studied medicine and pharmacy at the University of Nigeria for a year and a half. At nineteen, Chimamanda left for the U.S. to study communication at Drexel University in Philadelphia for two years, then went on to pursue a degree in communication and political science at Eastern Connecticut State University. Chimamanda graduated summa cum laude from Eastern in 2001, and then completed a master’s degree in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore.

It was during her senior year at Eastern that she started working on her first novel, Purple Hibiscus , which was published in October 2003.

Chimamanda was a Hodder fellow at Princeton University during the 2005-2006 academic year, and earned an MA in African Studies from Yale University in 2008. (Goodreads)

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