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New Excerpt from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie We Should All Be FeministsRead an extract from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s new ebook short, We Should All Be Feminists, based on her TEDx Talk of the same name.

Adichie’s talk combined reflections on her personal experience growing up female in Nigeria with lucid and insightful observations about the nature and discourse of modern feminism. Part of the talk was sampled by American pop star Beyoncé in the song “Flawless” on her most recent album, Beyoncé.

Now, Adichie’s essay has been published as an ebook short by Vintage Books, and is available for download.

AmericanahHalf of a Yellow Sun Purple Hibiscus

Read an excerpt from the book:

The first time I taught a writing class in graduate school, I was worried. Not about the teaching material, because I was well prepared and I was teaching what I enjoyed. Instead I was worried about what to wear. I wanted to be taken seriously.

I knew that because I was female, I would automatically have to prove my worth. And I was worried that if I looked too feminine, I would not be taken seriously. I really wanted to wear my shiny lip gloss and my girly skirt, but I decided not to. I wore a very serious, very manly, and very ugly suit.

The sad truth of the matter is that when it comes to appearance, we start off with men as the standard, as the norm. Many of us think that the less feminine a woman appears, the more likely she is to be taken seriously. A man going to a business meeting doesn’t wonder about being taken seriously based on what he is wearing—but a woman does.

I wish I had not worn that ugly suit that day. Had I then the confidence I have now to be myself, my students would have benefited even more from my teaching. Because I would have been more comfortable and more fully and truly myself.

In an interview with Vogue, Adichie says she has become quite “bored” by the constant questions she receives about Beyoncé, but admits that she was pleasantly surprised by having her thoughts on feminism go “viral”.

What was it like to have your ideas about feminism go so viral?

It felt strange and surprising. I had done one TED Talk and I felt that I had already said what I could, in fact, say, and I didn’t think I had anything else worth talking about. But then I also realsed the one thing I cared about is gender, feminism. So I said, “Okay, I’ll do it.” But I thought, This is not going to be popular, because it’s obvious that feminism for many people is a bad word, even if you believe in it, the word is off-putting. I thought seven people would care. I was surprised, but pleasantly so.

What was your first thought when Beyoncé asked if she could sample the song?

I’m so bored by this question, but I will say that I’m happy that my thirteen-year-old niece calls herself a feminist—not because I made the speech, but because of Beyoncé. Having attained the status of “cool” to my niece is wonderful.

Watch the original TEDx video:

Book details


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