Over 100,000 copies of We Should All Be Feminists are being sent to Swedish students in their second year of high school. A number of organizations, including two big unions and a women’s lobby group, have decided to hand Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s book out for free.
The generous organizations say they want it to be “an introduction for girls and boys who never before thought about injustices between the sexes.”
We do it with the hope that they will read Adichie’s words and understand that feminism is the key to unlock their narrow cages. Feminism makes it possible for both girls and boys to be themselves.
It’s a move reminiscent of how the government in Nazi Germany gave all newlywed couples a free copy of Mein Kampf. But is it really fair to compare this piece of literature to Hitler’s notorious manifesto? Let’s find out.
A Nigerian perspective
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in Nigeria. She studied in America and received Masters degrees in creative writing and African studies. Today she’s a critically acclaimed novelist.
In 2014, We Should All Be Feminists was published. It is based on a speech the author held in December 2012 at TEDxEuston. You can watch the talk here, and it differs little from the printed version.
Earlier this week the short book came out in a Swedish translation. As it is now being passed out to teenagers all over the country, this writer read the Swedish print to figure out if it’s any good. And it does start off quite well.
To explain why she became a feminist, the author tells us about her experiences as a woman in Nigeria. For example, only boys were allowed compete for the role of class monitor at her primary school. This rule was clearly discriminatory, and one can sympathize with Adichie as she expresses her wish to be something forbidden to her kind.
These are little things, but sometimes it’s the little things that sting the most.
She continues by acknowledging the fact that men and women are biologically different, having their own types of hormones and genitals. This is important, since many feminists today seem to think that gender is purely an illusion constructed and promoted by the faceless, evil entity known as “the Patriarchy.”
After these passages, though, Adichie starts sounding like every other feminist you’ve heard since the third wave of their movement came along. Men have all the power, women are seen as second-class citizens, and in every imaginable situation they get the short end of the stick.
The fact that the author’s experiences mostly come from Nigeria is a problem. How is her critique of Nigerian society pertinent to the way we live in the West? Another problem is that a lot of what she promulgates as fact is either unconfirmed by any proof, or feminist myths that have been falsified a long time ago, like the wage gap myth (she claims that women in the US get paid less than men for the same work).
The biggest flaw in the book is also the main point she’s trying to make; that masculinity is the Great Satan that must be banished from the world if men and women shall live in peace. This, she says, would improve the lives of both sexes.
Although she admits that our bodies are different, she doesn’t make the connection from that to men and women behaving differently as well. She claims that masculinity and femininity are social constructs. And in this modern world, masculinity only breeds trouble.
Men are too “hard”
A thousand years ago, she writes, it was reasonable for men to be in power. But today, other qualities than physical strength are necessary to rule, like intelligence and creativity. Those traits can be found equally in both men and women. Therefore, men having more power is unfair.
In her mind, masculinity is like an evolutionary by-product, no longer needed but only harmful. Because we are taught to be either masculine or feminine, we must begin to teach our children (especially boys) differently.
We do a great disservice to boys in how we raise them. We stifle their humanity. We define masculinity very narrowly.
Masculinity is a hard, small cage, which we put our boys into.
We teach boys to not show fear, weakness, vulnerability. We teach them to mask their true selves because they have to grow up and become a hard man, as they say in Nigeria.
In contrast, Adichie wants us to make boys weak, soft, sensitive and neurotic. One would guess that she models her perfect man after a Woody Allen character.
The truth is that masculinity serves men well. It has for thousands of years, and it still does. It makes us strong, resilient, competitive, logical and rational. In a word, hard. None of us would be here if our ancestors weren’t hard. Neither do we achieve any success today if we don’t acquire some degree of masculinity. Our superior physical strength might not do much for us in our working lives, but it certainly makes us more attractive to women.
That’s one important inconsistency in Adichie’s message. She calls on women to raise their children to be Woody Allen, but she doesn’t say that they should marry a Woody Allen. Hence, she wants to turn the next generation of boys into beta males, while knowing that these are not the men that women typically go for.
We would do a great disservice to boys if we raised them the way Adichie tells us to do. It would make them less competitive compared to masculine boys, which would ultimately impede their chances of procreating. Natural selection would discard their substandard genes to the landfill of history.
While We Should All Be Feminists starts off somewhat agreeable, it ends up expressing the same sort of Marxist adoration for weakness that we’ve heard time and time again.
Graded F For Feminist
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie deserves credit for laying out the basics of modern feminism in a plain and accessible language. She avoids, perhaps purposely, loaded words like patriarchy, misogyny, and all the different varieties of shaming.
The book is also short, and therefore even a teenager with the attention span of a goldfish can finish it. But kids shouldn’t be reading it at all, and it should not be passed on to them through the school system. This piece of feminist propaganda is something teenagers can find on their own, if they’re interested in the subject.
Although it might be less than applicable to compare it to the Third Reich Führer’s autobiography for many reasons, as a manifesto for third-wave feminazis, this book is as good (bad) as any.