Dear Ijeawele, Or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions ~ Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2017)


When Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s childhood friend wrote to her, knowing her public stance on feminism, and asked to teach her to raise her newborn daughter a feminist, Adichie was taken aback. She prefaces this slim volume by stating that she did not know how to raise a little girl to be feminist, but she gave it her best shot. She also comments that having since welcomed her own baby daughter to the world, she has taken these 15 suggestions as her personal goal, with regard to her own baby. Written in the form of the letter that it originally was, Adichie breaks it down into, as you surely guessed, fifteen suggestions. Basing it on her two Feminist Tools – the premise that “I matter equally”, and the question “Can you reverse X and get the same results?”. The essence of feminism is that all instances and circumstances must be equal. Not equal “if” or “when”, simply equal. Her suggestions range from regardless of motherhood, remaining a full person, not defined solely by motherhood; to teaching her child about difference, and that simply that it exists, to not attach value to it. She explains that teaching children about misogyny and the patriarchy mustn’t be about the words, as children do not attach meaning to long words, but rather to point out instances and explain why these things are wrong. Much like the small, feminist primer bell hooks wished for, and then ultimately wrote in “Feminism Is For Everybody: Passionate Politics”, Dear Ijeawele is a simple, easy to understand, beautifully simple guide to the basis of feminism. The simplicity lies in the idea that it is designed to explain feminism to a child, ultimately, which is a stunning example of the patience most feminists must betray while explaining the theory and practice to feminist critics. I sincerely wish I could have every women who claims to “not be a feminist” read this book, and see for themselves that, as Adichie herself wrote, we should all be feminists. Feminists reading this essay will nod in agreement when she discusses Feminism Lite. The sole reason this books does not receive four ❤️s is due to the length. I sincerely wish this book was significantly longer and that it had taken me much longer to read.

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