Witer and Novelist Chimamanda Adichie took to her facebook to congratulate her friend, Ijeawele. She also used the opportunity to give some suggestions on how to raise a feminist child in the form of an open letter.
The award winning writer discussed gender roles and the place of women in the world. The manifesto examines how politics, language and the new media all contribute to the image of a girl. Adichie is familiar with speaking and talking feminism. She feels feminism is contextual and should aways start with the ” “the solid unbending belief” that one is significant and important. “Your feminist premise should be: I matter,” she writes in the Facebook entry. “I matter equally. Not ‘if only.’ Not ‘as long as.’ I matter equally. Full stop.”
1. Be a full person. Motherhood is a glorious gift, but do not define yourself solely by motherhood.
2. Do it together. Remember in primary school we learnt that a verb was a ‘doing’ word? Well, a father is as much a verb as a mother.
3. Teach her that ‘gender roles’ is absolute nonsense. Do not ever tell her that she should do or not do something “because you are a girl.”
4. Beware the danger of what I call Feminism Lite. It is the idea of conditional female equality. Reject this entirely. It is a hollow, appeasing, and bankrupt idea. Being a feminist is like being pregnant. You either are or you are not. You either believe in the full equality of women, or you do not.
5. Teach Chizalum to read. Teach her to love books.
6. Teach her to question language. Language is the repository of our prejudices, our beliefs, our assumptions. But to teach her that, you will have to question your own language.
7. Never speak of marriage as an achievement.
8. Teach her to reject likeability. Her job is not to make herself likeable, her job is to be her full self,
a self that is honest and aware of the equal humanity of other people.
9. Give Chizalum a sense of identity. It matters. Be deliberate about it.
10. Be deliberate about how you engage with her and her appearance.
11. Teach her to question our culture’s selective use of biology as ‘reasons’ for social norms.
12. Talk to her about sex and start early. It will probably be a bit awkward but it is necessary.
13. Romance will happen so be on board.
14. In teaching her about oppression, be careful not to turn the oppressed into saints.
15. Teach her about difference. Make difference ordinary. Make difference normal. Teach her not to attach value to difference. And the reason for this is not to be fair or to be nice but merely to be human and practical.