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Chimamanda Adichie: Another Word On Feminism

“I asked her what it meant to be feminist, and she said that every day she would wake up and say to herself ‘I woke up like this.’ Hearing her say that made me really start to think seriously about what it means to be feminist for young women today. What does it mean to say ‘I woke up like this, flawless?’ I like to think that it doesn’t actually mean that you’re without flaws, because God forbid that a human being would be perfect.

“To be without flaws would be inhuman. I like to think that for feminists, flawless means that you accept yourself the way you are, that flawless, in the feminist sense, really means a radical self-acceptance and the firm knowledge that beauty never means one thing.”

Chimamanda Adichie speaks of encountering a young woman who attributed her feminism to Adichie after identifying with Adichie’s lines in ‘Flawless’ by Beyoncé

About shakespeareanwalter

Walt Shakes(@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter.

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One comment

  1. Lyrics from ‘Flawless’:
    I took some time to live my life
    But don’t think I’m just his little wife
    Don’t get it twisted, get it twisted
    This my shit, bow down bitches.

    The message is pretty clear. But then there’s the interlude by Chimamanda:

    We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller
    We say to girls: “You can have ambition, but not too much
    You should aim to be successful, but not too successful
    Otherwise, you will threaten the man.”
    Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage
    I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is most important
    Now, marriage can be a source of joy and low and mutual support
    But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same?
    We raise girls to see each other as competitors
    Not for jobs or for accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing
    But for the attention of men
    We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way boys are
    Feminist: a person who believes in the social,
    Political, and economic equality of the sexes.’

    Those feminist words can seem at odds with Beyoncé’s videos. Are we supposed to have a problem with the fact that Beyoncé is advocating that our society stop thinking of women as wives and sex objects as she grinds up on her husband in a leotard? I think we are. I think she wants us to think about how much of what she does is empowerment and how much is driven by the norms of popular culture. And, again, she wants us to think that you can be both sexy and a feminist. (Feminists like sex too, remember?)

    Maybe I’m giving her too much credit, and it’s just hypocritical when she sarcastically sings, “I just woke up like this” with her perfectly manicured outfit and makeup. But Beyoncé’s resume is so full, that being married to Jay Z probably wouldn’t even make the cut. And it’s nice to have her, one of the few superstars, actually claim the scary title of “feminist.” Even though she hasn’t always had the feminists on her side.

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