A week or two ago, I had written about Beyoncé’s newest album and the feminist language it speaks. In my post, I had mentioned that Beyoncé incorporated a huge chunk of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s feminist speech at the 2013 TEDxEuston conference. When writing that post, I had watched Adichie’s entire speech and realized how Beyoncé was inspired by her words. Her speech not only sparked something within myself, but also made me want to spread her wise words to as many people as possible, and what better way than this.
TEDxEuston is a TED conference that happens each year and is explained from their website as, “an event that aims to reflect the ideas and inspired thinking of a new generation of African leaders.” Last April, one of the TEDxEuston 2013 speakers was Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She is a renowned Nigerian novelist and feminist, and among her many achievements that I don’t have room to list, was featured in the April 2012 edition of Time Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.
The topic of her speech was feminism and the title was “We Should All Be Feminists.” Now when someone reads such a title, I’m sure many disregard it, but when you watch or read her speech, that is exactly what you will end up thinking.
Throughout the speech, she tells her own journey of how she identified as a feminist and the obvious problems with gender equality not only in Africa, but all over the world.
Among the many issues she highlights, she discusses how some men—and some women—do not recognize that there is STILL gender inequality today. She uses anecdotes that show how in Africa (also in America), women are not respected or viewed in the same light as men; they are merely the shadow.
“The higher you go, the fewer women there are” Adichie states from the late Kenyan Nobel Peace laureate, Wangari Maathai (a female). She then gives the fact that 52% of the world’s population is women, but men hold most of the world’s highest positions and quite literally “rule the world” continuing to say,
“And this made sense a thousand years ago. Because human beings lived then in a world in which physical strength was the most important attribute for survival… But today we live in a vastly different world. The person more likely to lead is not the physically stronger person, it is the more creative person, the more intelligent person, the more innovative person, and there are no hormones for those attributes…We have evolved, but it seems to me that our ideas of gender have not evolved.”
A flawless argument stated profoundly; that we as human beings have evolved in so many significant ways. However, still unable to look at gender equally and get past the thought that our biological makeup determines our abilities in life.
“Gender as it functions today is a grave injustice” Adichie states, making the argument that men and women are oppressed because of the gender confinement’s society tries to put us in. Men are stifled by the masculinity they must adhere to and females are also because the “threat” we pose through possible success—emasculation.
“The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are.” Gender inequality puts expectations on us, limiting our true personalities, identities, and purposes.
“Feminist: a man or a woman who says, ‘Yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today, and we must fix it, we must do better’.”
Adichie’s entire speech makes the point that we—men and women around the world—can do better, can fight for better, and can create better.
Gender puts expectations to be “manly” or “womanly”, when yes we have different biological characteristics that can contribute to those adjectives, but those parts do not create our individuality; it is our mind. Our minds controls success, not our bodies. It is mind over matter that adheres to our abilities.
Adichie’s speech, “We Should All Be Feminists” made me realize gender equality is not just a fight for women, but a fight for men as well. It is a GENDER problem, encompassing both sexes.
So remember, it is mind over matter. Our minds can evolve even more than they already have since the beginning of time, eliminating gender inequalities.
As always, feel free to comment!