The term modern world is just that – a term. However much we think of current society as a place where everything is ideal, it isn’t exactly all rosy. In an age where feminism is misunderstood and misrepresented, it is important that feminist writing gets some spotlight. And with ‘feminist writing’, I mean books written by anyone that support women’s rights towards the equality of all genders.
A Little Background:
For a long time now, women have been oppressed. We might not know the exact reason behind this but men have always been considered the stronger sex. This, despite women giving birth and bleeding through menstruation every month, and still going about their duties like it was nothing. Women have been taken advantage of and relegated to the house. They have been forced to not socialize freely because it does not become a woman. And they have been told to behave and not entice a man by sitting with their legs apart. They have been told that it is their fault if a man rapes her. And they have been made to undergo a number of horrors that don’t even come close to these in the name of man-made tradition.
While the horrors against a woman are unimaginable indeed, the worst is yet to come. In all these millennia, as a woman bore all of these with regal quietness, the world smiled and went on. But the moment women found their voices to talk about themselves as human, the world was thunderstruck. It began to find fault with the woman’s way of thinking. “How selfish of you to only talk about your rights?” “There are others who are oppressed too. Do you think men have it easy?” “You are such a feminist!” The last one is said with such disgust that the hypocrisy is almost overshadowed. Almost.
The Concept of Pseudo-Feminism:
Given, a number of people exploit the concept of feminism and are now called feminazis or pseudo-feminists. But if you are true to the concept and know that what you are saying follows every tenet of it without finding loopholes, then you ARE a feminist. Don’t let anybody bring you down by calling you a feminazi. More often than not, it is the people screaming ‘FEMINAZI’ at someone else who are the true pseudo-feminists themselves. In such times, we need more writers who will elucidate in simple terms the real, precise meaning of feminism.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Feminist Writing:
A shining example of an author who is amazing at feminist writing is Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She has written novels like Purple Hibiscus and Americanah, both stunning books and bestsellers in their own right. But it is her two nonfiction books, We Should All Be Feminists and Dear Ijeawele or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions that take the cake.
We Should All Be Feminists:
We Should All Be Feminists is a novella-length essay that was based on Adichie’s TEDx Talk from 2012 at Euston. One of the most important books that epitomizes feminist writing, it tells us, in no uncertain terms, how differently we treat our male and female species. Some might say that different is good. But put yourself in that position and see if you like how you’re treated. If you didn’t like it, then there’s no reason for you to raise a voice against the people who are rooting for equality.
That should be the whole objective of feminist writing – to build empathy. But then again, it is sad that people don’t think of something as unfair until and unless they put themselves in those situations. It isn’t as yet clear to everyone in the world that to each, their own. The day this becomes true will be a day to celebrate. And not just in the fireworks-and-pie sort of way. But in the true sense of celebration, with everyone exercising their human rights freely.
Dear Ijeawele or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions:
Dear Ijeawele is a letter written by the author to a friend who wrote to her asking for advice on how to raise a feminist daughter. And the points she makes in the book are so raw that they will definitely have touched a lot of nerves around the world. For example, women are asked if they can cook, while men aren’t. Cooking, Adichie says, is something everyone should know for survival. So why should only a woman learn cooking? There are a lot many other points she makes in conjunction with this one and one must read the book to absorb them all.
Reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s brand of feminist writing awakened in me something that lay dormant for a long time. I now question everything that seems unfair to me. This way, I either learn a lesson or taste vindication in my quest for knowledge. I wish more people like Adichie dabbled in feminist writing exactly the way she does. But even I find that a little bizarre to ask of a writer. Because, favorable as that might be for a world that needs more of her feminist writing, like I said before, to each, their own.