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Posts Tagged ‘Dear Ijeawale’

I have wanted to read Adichie’sDear Ijeawale‘ for a while now. I got it as a Christmas present yesterday. I couldn’t resist taking it out today and I read it in one breath.

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Adichie explains at the beginning, the way she came to write this book-essay. One of her friends became a mother and asked Adichie to advise her on how she could raise her daughter as a feminist. Adichie was hesitant because she was not sure she was the right person to give that advice. But then she decided to write to her friend what she thought about it. That letter is this book.

The book is short at around 60 pages. It can be read in one sitting. I loved all the fifteen suggestions, each page, and every line. My highlighting pen was working overtime and it didn’t know when to stop. In the book, Adichie covers most of the things that a parent of a girl baby will think about and worry about. The advice she gives is insightful, wise, brilliant, inspiring, nuanced. It is beautiful.

Instead of writing more about the book, I will share some of my favourite passages from it, to give you a flavour of the book. There are too many of them and so this is just a random selection of my favourites.

On Sharing Child Care

“Share child care equally. ‘Equally’ of course depends on you both, and you will have to work it out, paying equal attention to each person’s needs. It does not have to mean a literal fifty-fifty or a day-by-day score-keeping but you’ll know when the child-care work is equally shared. You’ll know by your lack of resentment. Because when there is true equality, resentment does not exist.”

On Reverence and Equality

“Tell Chizalum that women actually don’t need to be championed and revered; they just need to be treated as equal human beings. There is a patronizing undertone to the idea of women needing to be ‘championed and revered’ because they are women. It makes me think of chivalry, and the premise of chivalry is female weakness.”

On Marriage

“Never speak of marriage as an achievement. Find ways to make clear to her that 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 the one than the other. Is it any wonder that, in so many marriages, women sacrifice more, at a loss to themselves, because they have to constantly maintain an uneven exchange?”

On Keeping One’s Name

      “Even some friends made statements like ‘You are successful and so it is OK to keep your name.’ Which made me wonder : why does a woman have to be successful at work in order to justify keeping her name?
      The truth is that I have not kept my name because I am successful. Had I not had the good fortune to be published and widely read, I would still have kept my name. I have kept my name because it is my name. I have kept my name because I like my name.”

On Feminism and Femininity

“If she likes make-up, let her wear it. If she likes fashion, let her dress up. But if she doesn’t like either, let her be. Don’t think that raising her feminist means forcing her to reject femininity. Feminism and femininity are not mutually exclusive.”

On Opinions

      “Please note that I am not suggesting that you raise her to be ‘non-judgemental’, which is a commonly used expression these days, and which slightly worries me. The general sentiment behind the idea is a fine one, but ‘non-judgemental’ can easily devolve into meaning ‘don’t have an opinion about anything’ or ‘I keep my opinions to myself’. And so, instead of that, what I hope for Chizalum is this : that she will be full of opinions, and that her opinions will come from an informed, humane and broad-minded place.”

I must be the last person to read ‘Dear Ijeawale’, but if you haven’t read it yet, please get it and read it now. It is a beautiful, brilliant, inspiring book.

Have you read ‘Dear Ijeawale‘? What do you think about it?

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