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Why We Should All be Feminists?

The analysis of the ted talk by Adichie called “We Should All Be Feminists” addresses issues in our culture and provides ways to overcome such social inequality. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian feminist and has authored several books, including The Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun, and has awards like Commonwealth Writers' Prize, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, the Orange Prize under her belt. She focuses on understanding these stereotypes existing in our society and tries to give solutions to get rid of these societal standards. Although set in a Nigerian setting, this talk aid one in understanding the power dynamics present throughout the world.

She starts by elaborating how the concept of feminism has been trivialized to make it look unattractive. The concepts of feminism could be equated with terrorism to help the audience understand the negative connotations attached to it. The word feminist comes with so much “negative baggage” (Adichie). Moreover, she explains that the superiority of men has been normalized because it's been fed to us from our childhood. She cited her experience as a child when the teacher picked a boy classmate to become the class monitor, just because he was a boy even though she was the one who deserved that title. This showcases how this attitude is embedded in our minds that it goes without notice and looks normal. Then gender roles are used as means to restrict the do's and do not's on women for them to fit the societal standard imposed on them. The idea of equating an independent woman to a "bad" woman puts them in a box that they cannot outgrow. It sabotages the creative element by fitting her in the cookie-cutter norms of society. She disproves the logic of women being called weak or less intelligent through real-life examples adding credibility to her arguments. She states that "I am trying to unlearn many lessons of gender I internalized while growing up. But I sometimes still feel vulnerable in the face of gender expectations" (Adichie). However, she points out that one does not need to be apologetic, and change needs to come from the mindset to reflect in society.

Furthermore, she also explains how this change can be materialized. Most importantly, she talks about the role of upbringing a child regardless of being a girl or a boy. As both need to learn these concepts and reflect them in their lives. Hence, “conscious raising” (Sarachild) can be utilized in terminating these gender roles. As their origins lie in the structure of family, domestic and personal lives. Gender roles do not just affect girls, but boys too negatively. Men are molded not to have feelings and to always stay strong. Adichie puts this toxic masculinity like "a hard small cage, and we put them inside it" (Adichie). Moreover, "Toxic masculinity, the idea that there is only one way to be a man....is a double-edged sword. First, it harms the boys and men who fail to live up to gendered expectations of who they should be. Then, sometimes, these men perpetrate violence in response, leaving innocent victims in their wake" (Clemens). They are also not allowed to breathe as they are expected to fit the societal norms. This problem of toxic masculinity materializes through men with weak egos that take it out on women as they believe they can. "Gender then becomes a social category imposed on the sexed body. In that way, the binary opposition and the social process of gender relationships both become part of the meaning of power itself; to question or alter any aspect threatens the entire system" (Scott). Although this change seems "uncomfortable," nevertheless needs to be upgraded and can only be countered if they are raised differently with fewer expectations to meet in order to let their true identity to shine through. Therefore, if they are raised with a more conscious mindset, humanity will cooperate to form a better and equitable world.






Work Citation Bank

“We Should All Be Feminists | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie | TEDxEuston.” YouTube, 12 Apr. 2013, www.youtube.com/watch?v=hg3umXU_qWc.

Scott, Joan W. “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis.” The American Historical Review, vol. 91, no. 5, 1986, pp. 1053–1075. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/1864376. Accessed 15 Nov. 2020.

Sarachild, Kathie. “Consciousness-Raising: A Radical Weapon.” Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter, 12 Mar. 1973, www.rapereliefshelter.bc.ca/learn/resources/consciousness-raising-radical-weapon-kathie-sarachild

CLEMENS, COLLEEN. “Toxic Masculinity Is Bad for Everyone: Why Teachers Must Disrupt Gender Norms Every Day.” Teaching Tolerance, 4 Jan. 2018, www.tolerance.org/magazine/toxic-masculinity-is-bad-for-everyone-why-teachers-must-disrupt-gender-norms-every-day.







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An idea in her essay that stood out to me was the serious implications of the categorisation of certain roles as masculine while others as feminine. . “Boys will be boys” is a common expression that suggests the acceptance of certain masculine behaviours, including rage, domestic violence and anger as inevitable for males. The example that comes to mind is the series of #VogueEmpowers video campaigns, “StartWithTheBoys” which centres around the theme that “Boys don’t cry”. The video addresses the fallacy propagated by traditional society of men being taught to be strong while facing challenges without crying, often resulting in violence and aggression towards women. Madhuri Dixit comments towards the end, “we teach our boys not to cry. It’s time…

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Yes, I completely agree with your points about how gendered boxes are not just harming women but men as well. As they are also expected to suppress their feelings that translates into them taking it out on those they can which largely comprises of women and children. Therefore, children must be raised with a more open mindset so that they materialise into more tolerant and respectable beings.

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Another idea is of internalized misogyny amongst women whereby they are socialized into believing that feminism is indeed something wrong. Here, women's ideological stances line up with the patriarchal standards of society. Therefore, they demonize the women who go against these patriarchal standards and label them as deviants.

For instance, feminists arguing for equal pay for women in Pakistan may be subject to such criticism. The women who have internalized misogyny may believe that the feminists are doing something wrong by demanding equal workplace rights as their male counterparts. They may see this threat to the status quo as something inherently bad just because it is against patriarchal ideals.

So, yes, I completely agree with you that feminism is viewed…

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Unfortunately, this is the sad reality especially within our context. One example that comes to mind is of the "Aurat March" and how it is perceived in our society. Feminist ideologies coming with negative connotations cant be more true in this example as people who participate are ridiculed and made fun of. Even though the march is meant to raise awareness regarding serious issues within our society, it is reduced to random placards and videos brushing the actual issues under the carpet.

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This Ted talk by Adichie is indeed very inspiring and offers much to reflect upon. The need of the hour really is to bring about a cultural reform that recognizes women as humans who deserve rights just as much as men do instead of exaggerating the purpose of and launching attacks on the feminist movement. Although it can be argued that Adichie’s experiences are very specific to Nigerian culture considering the anecdotal lens she uses, she recognizes the universality of her cause nonetheless and says, “Gender matters everywhere in the world. And I would like today to ask that we begin to dream about and plan for… a world of happier men and happier women who are truer to themselves.”…

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The reason why I find this talk very inspiring is the universal appeal it holds even though it mostly highlights her personal experiences in a Nigerian setting. So, I completely agree with your assertions that she has been able to capture the plight of women everywhere even when she is building her argument on anecdotal evidence. The solution of cultural redressing that she has offered is very relevant in our society as well because we have very narrow definitions of what it means to be a woman and man.

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