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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The highly acclaimed, provocative essay on feminism and sexual politics—from the award-winning author of Americanah

In this personal, eloquently-argued essay—adapted from the much-admired TEDx talk of the same name—Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century. Drawing extensively on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the often masked realities of sexual politics, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman now—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.

From School Library Journal

A personal essay adapted from the writer''s TEDx talk of the same name. Adichie, celebrated author of the acclaimed Americanah (Knopf, 2013), offers a more inclusive definition of feminism, one that strives to highlight and embrace a wide range of people and experiences. Drawing on anecdotes from her adolescence and adult life, Adichie attempts to strike down stereotypes and unpack the baggage usually associated with the term. She argues that an emphasis on feminism is necessary because to focus only on the general "human rights" is "to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded." Her focus on women of color is also an aspect of the movement that hasn''t always been given its due, and Adichie works in her own experience and life as a feminist within a more conservative Nigerian culture in an organic and eye-opening way. She also points to examples in Nigeria that are unfortunately universal: a young woman who is gang-raped at a university and is then vilified and blamed for the crime, which, unfortunately, happens often in the United States. Injustices such as these, she posits, are reasons enough to be angry and outspoken. The humorous and insightful tone will engage teens and give them an accessible entry point into gender studies. This title would also work well as a discussion starter in debate and speech classes. VERDICT An eloquent, stirring must-read for budding and reluctant feminists.—Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal

Review

“Nuanced and rousing.” — Vogue 
 
“Adichie is so smart about so many things.” — San Francisco Chronicle

"An enchanting plea by the award-winning Nigerian novelist to channel anger about gender inequality into positive change." — KIRKUS

"A call to action, for all people in the world, to undo the gender hierarchy." — Medium

About the Author

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie grew up in Nigeria. Her work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared in various publications, including The New Yorker, The New York Times, Granta, The O. Henry Prize Stories, Financial Times, and Zoetrope: All-Story. She is the author of the novels Purple Hibiscus, which won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award; Half of a Yellow Sun, which was the recipient of the Women’s Prize for Fiction “Winner of Winners” award; Americanah, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award; the story collection The Thing Around Your Neck; and the essays We Should All Be Feminists and Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, both national bestsellers. A recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, she divides her time between the United States and Nigeria.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

INTRODUCTION

 This is a modified version of a talk I delivered in December 2012 at TEDxEuston, a yearly conference focused on Africa. Speakers from diverse fields deliver concise talks aimed at challenging and inspiring Africans and friends of Africa. I had spoken at a different TED conference a few years before, giving a talk titled ‘The Danger of the Single Story’ about how stereotypes limit and shape our thinking, especially about Africa. It seems to me that the word feminist, and the idea of feminism itself, is also limited by stereotypes. When my brother Chuks and best friend Ike, both co-organizers of the TEDxEuston conference, insisted that I speak, I could not say no. I decided to speak about feminism because it is something I feel strongly about. I suspected that it might not be a very popular subject, but I hoped to start a necessary conversation. And so that evening as I stood onstage, I felt as though I was in the presence of family – a kind and attentive audience, but one that might resist the subject of my talk. At the end, their standing ovation gave me hope.


...


WE SHOULD ALL BE FEMINISTS 

Okoloma was one of my greatest childhood friends. He lived on my street and looked after me like a big brother: if I liked a boy, I would ask Okoloma’s opinion. Okoloma was funny and intelligent and wore cowboy boots that were pointy at the tips. In December 2005, in a plane crash in southern Nigeria, Okoloma died. It is still hard for me to put into words how I felt. Okoloma was a person I could argue with, laugh with and truly talk to. He was also the first person to call me a feminist.

I was about fourteen. We were in his house, arguing, both of us bristling with half- baked knowledge from the books we had read. I don’t remember what this particular argument was about. But I remember that as I argued and argued, Okoloma looked at me and said, ‘You know, you’re a feminist.’

It was not a compliment. I could tell from his tone – the same tone with which a person would say, ‘You’re a supporter of terrorism.’

I did not know exactly what this word feminist meant. And I did not want Okoloma to know that I didn’t know. So I brushed it aside and continued to argue. The first thing I planned to do when I got home was look up the word in the dictionary.

Now fast-forward to some years later. In 2003, I wrote a novel called Purple Hibiscus, about a man who, among other things, beats his wife, and whose story doesn’t end too well. While I was promoting the novel in Nigeria, a journalist, a nice, well-meaning man, told me he wanted to advise me. (Nigerians, as you might know, are very quick to give unsolicited advice.)

He told me that people were saying my novel was feminist, and his advice to me – he was shaking his head sadly as he spoke – was that I should never call myself a feminist, since feminists are women who are unhappy because they cannot find husbands.

So I decided to call myself a Happy Feminist.

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4.7 out of 54.7 out of 5
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Top reviews from the United States

Paul Fletcher
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Beyond Gender
Reviewed in the United States on October 28, 2018
I''m a "baby boomer," raised by World War II veterans and descendant of Buffalo Soldiers, taught from a Eurocentric perspective that might is right; it doesn''t get anymore macho then that. By the mid 60s I was introduced to nonviolence civil disobedience, and passive... See more
I''m a "baby boomer," raised by World War II veterans and descendant of Buffalo Soldiers, taught from a Eurocentric perspective that might is right; it doesn''t get anymore macho then that. By the mid 60s I was introduced to nonviolence civil disobedience, and passive resistance, caught between Malcolm and Martin searching for manhood; living within a strong black community where the lines between patriarchal and matriarchal cultures is blared because men and women worked and shared in the leadership of the church, school and home. Yet it became clear during the Black Power Movement that women were expected to take a supportive subordinate role. The Feminist Movement was a wakeup call, since then my wife and daughter have been keeping me informed and making sure I understand what needs to change. I am a lifelong student and this book is a part of my education which started with bell hooks and continues.
88 people found this helpful
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Bursar
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Where''s the rest?
Reviewed in the United States on September 2, 2018
This is not a book, it''s a brochure. It''s tiny. All the arguments are based on the author''s interpretations of awkward social situations in Africa and not on any theory or history or methodology or anything but what she assumed went on in other people''s heads at various... See more
This is not a book, it''s a brochure. It''s tiny. All the arguments are based on the author''s interpretations of awkward social situations in Africa and not on any theory or history or methodology or anything but what she assumed went on in other people''s heads at various times in her life. Don''t waste your time, although there is so little text to read it wouldn''t waste much.
36 people found this helpful
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Kristen S
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
I''ve read (much) better
Reviewed in the United States on October 17, 2018
I personally thought this book was terrible... at least the first 3/4 of it, because that''s all I could get through. It''s probably my fault, but I expected it to expand on the reasons why we all need to be feminists. The author gives scenarios of where something has... See more
I personally thought this book was terrible... at least the first 3/4 of it, because that''s all I could get through. It''s probably my fault, but I expected it to expand on the reasons why we all need to be feminists. The author gives scenarios of where something has happened to slight women or girls, but goes no further with it. The book was more of a downer to me than it was inspiring. If you are a woman, you KNOW what it''s like to be made to feel like you''re less than... we don''t need to hear more stories. Even if you don''t.... or won''t let it get to you, there has almost always been at least once where this has happened (especially when it first does). Now, if the book changed in the last 1/4, my review still stands. I read through most of it and got nothing (thus, wasted my time).

I would have liked the book to be more pro-active, to give girls and young women an arsenal of weapons that''ll soften the blows when, unfortunately, insults come their way. I kept hoping it would get better, but it didn''t... We need to continue to stay strong and keep fighting our way through life, until we are equal. Getting equal pay and to be BELIEVED would (should) be the first things on the list.
27 people found this helpful
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T. L. Cooper
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Message about Equality for Us All
Reviewed in the United States on January 31, 2019
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a written version of Adichie''s Tedx Talk about how women''s equality uplifts and supports whole communities. I enjoyed her talk so much I wanted it in written form, so I could read it, ponder it, and keep it on my... See more
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a written version of Adichie''s Tedx Talk about how women''s equality uplifts and supports whole communities. I enjoyed her talk so much I wanted it in written form, so I could read it, ponder it, and keep it on my shelves to references at my convenience. We Should All Be Feminists drives home the point about how women''s rights are as important as men''s rights. Adichie explores the myriad variations of inequality and beliefs around feminism.We Should All Be Feminists demystifies the idea of feminism and explains how feminism benefits everyone.
16 people found this helpful
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kmthoennes
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Short, but still inspiring
Reviewed in the United States on January 9, 2018
This book was chosen for my book club to read this month. Before reading it, I watched the author''s TED Talk and was inspired. I assumed the book would expand a bit on the things she discussed in her talk, but the book felt word for word her lecture. That was the only... See more
This book was chosen for my book club to read this month. Before reading it, I watched the author''s TED Talk and was inspired. I assumed the book would expand a bit on the things she discussed in her talk, but the book felt word for word her lecture. That was the only disappointing thing about reading this. I was hoping for a bit more meat. But it did inspire me to look into other books on the topic.
24 people found this helpful
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Marissa
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A book for all men
Reviewed in the United States on October 7, 2018
A short read to be finished in a day that illuminates and outlines spaces and places where males and females are segregated. Often these instances are so ingrained into our culture and mindset they''ve become 99% invisible in the background, but by reading examples of how... See more
A short read to be finished in a day that illuminates and outlines spaces and places where males and females are segregated. Often these instances are so ingrained into our culture and mindset they''ve become 99% invisible in the background, but by reading examples of how nuanced and minor these instances may seem at first, you gradually learn to see how they aggregate to form cultural norms around gender. The more you read the more you see it happening around you.
15 people found this helpful
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Bbooks
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Offers wisdom but is not preachy.
Reviewed in the United States on December 4, 2020
"We teach women shame. Close your legs. Cover yourself. We make them feel as though by being born female, they are already guilty of something. And so girls grow up to be women who cannot say they have desire. Who silence themselves. Who cannot say what they truly think.... See more
"We teach women shame. Close your legs. Cover yourself. We make them feel as though by being born female, they are already guilty of something. And so girls grow up to be women who cannot say they have desire. Who silence themselves. Who cannot say what they truly think. Who have turned pretense into an art form."

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

For those who are not familiar with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, she wrote the book, "Americanah". That was a book I liked but did not love . But this short book, drew me in just by the title. It was quite interesting.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is of coarse a feminist and if you have read Americanah, you likely already know that. The ideas she speaks of here are from a speech she gave which she was nervous about and that ended in a standing ovation. I can see why.

I do love books that make you think but that are not preachy. I always felt Americanah fell into the preachy category a bit to much for my comfort. But "We should all be feminists" really does not. I enjoyed this for so many reasons. I did not know much about the laws that govern her country and I was indeed shocked at some of them. I was very shocked. And many,actually most..of her ideas I agree with. There is much reflection on Gender and the differences of the sexes and how women are raised versus men. There is also attention put to the very idea of the term "Feminist" and what it means, what people think it means and what it does not mean.

And I must say I had some ideas about Feminism that made me wonder if I could indeed be a feminist at all..ever. I love how Adichie makes it ALLRIGHT to be who you are, whether you favor serious business suits, bright red lipstick, are married, are single. I felt the message was "you be you" and I never felt talked down to or that to be accepted I''d have to measure up to someone else''s idealized version of who I am supposed to be.

Indeed, that is exactly what she argues against. I really liked what she had to say. It is funny how far women have come but in a way, not as far as would have been expected. I was very comfortable reading this and one does not have to be a Feminist themselves to enjoy the observations made in this story. Highly recommended.
3 people found this helpful
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Alex Chow
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Eye Opening and Inspiring
Reviewed in the United States on October 15, 2019
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is something that every single person should read. This essay was adapted from her TEDx talk and describes what feminism is today. This is a short read but it packs an amazingly strong punch. Chimamanda tells multiple... See more
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is something that every single person should read. This essay was adapted from her TEDx talk and describes what feminism is today. This is a short read but it packs an amazingly strong punch. Chimamanda tells multiple stories about friends who are in “stereotypical” relationship where they are expected to do the “housework”, reading these made me really appreciate the relationship I have with my husband because we try to share all of the work we have to do at home. Actually my husband loves cooking and I focus on doing the tasks that I like to do more, and I am so lucky that I found someone that doesn’t expect me to do certain things because I am a woman. While at home I am very lucky, at work I’ve definitely been marginalized and at times I feel like I am only there to assist my male coworkers. This made me realize that we have come pretty far, but we still have a long way to go. I’m hoping that I can start trying to change our culture so that every woman can experience the freedom that I have at home.
3 people found this helpful
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Top reviews from other countries

Heidi
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Adichie has a brilliant way with words
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 25, 2017
Everybody should read this essay. Whether you consider yourself a feminist or not, pick this up and you’ll see why you should be. Adichie has a brilliant way with words. She puts across her point in a powerful yet succinct way. There’s not much more you can say about this....See more
Everybody should read this essay. Whether you consider yourself a feminist or not, pick this up and you’ll see why you should be. Adichie has a brilliant way with words. She puts across her point in a powerful yet succinct way. There’s not much more you can say about this. I wouldn’t normally write a review about such a short piece of writing, but I had to post just to say go and read it! Or look up the original TEDx talk on YouTube.
25 people found this helpful
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Sebastian ZavalaTop Contributor: Star Wars
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
So precise
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 15, 2020
Yes, "We Should all be Feminists" is a very short book --after all, it''s an adaptation of a TEDex talk by the author. But that doesn''t mean it''s not worth reading. On the contrary; it''s a sublime read, and something that SHOULD be read by anyone who can.... yes, even those...See more
Yes, "We Should all be Feminists" is a very short book --after all, it''s an adaptation of a TEDex talk by the author. But that doesn''t mean it''s not worth reading. On the contrary; it''s a sublime read, and something that SHOULD be read by anyone who can.... yes, even those who, for some reason, don''t consider themselves feminism. It''s basically a precise and emotional summary of what feminism is (partially, of course) in the 21st century. Adichie talks about gender and the way it is perceived; toxic masculinity; sexism; and pretty much every topic that explains the existence of feminism and its importance. It''s direct and to the point, and it even feels inspirational, even considering the way the author describes the Nigerian culture, and the way sexism is engrained in it. It''s such a short and concise book, there really should be no excuse for you to not read it!
4 people found this helpful
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Welsh Emma
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
This is not a book!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 17, 2019
52 very small pages does not constitute a book, it''s a short essay. Took me 20 minutes to read. It''s also essentially a transcript of her TED talk-all of these things needed to be pointed out in the description. There''s also nothing ground breaking in here and the contents...See more
52 very small pages does not constitute a book, it''s a short essay. Took me 20 minutes to read. It''s also essentially a transcript of her TED talk-all of these things needed to be pointed out in the description. There''s also nothing ground breaking in here and the contents of the writing don''t even cover the thesis of the title.
11 people found this helpful
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Khyati Gautam
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A powerful take on feminism!
Reviewed in India on April 22, 2019
Feminism is a burning topic across all the geographies. The intellectuals – men and women alike – are found brainstorming and debating on this critical subject. All of them have their own perspectives which they imbibed in themselves as their experiences got internalized....See more
Feminism is a burning topic across all the geographies. The intellectuals – men and women alike – are found brainstorming and debating on this critical subject. All of them have their own perspectives which they imbibed in themselves as their experiences got internalized. That’s how they came to form opinions and grow in a culture. But does this culture stands fine today? Does our definition of feminism stand in the right place? "A feminist is a person who believes in the economic, political and social equality of the sexes." Such a wonderful and apt definition put forth by Chimamanda. It struck me right at the place where it should have. And reading it made me realize that the main problem with us is that we live in our illusional worlds with absolutely dismal misinterpretations of this word ‘feminist.’ Through her personal and brazen account, the author attempts to bring us to a table and initiate a conversation. Through this book, she delves in our system and culture as she goes on to articulate her experiences and observations. With the use of subtle language and impeccable finesse, she drives home the point of equality of sexes. She advocates the voice of women to be heard and the need to give it a room. She raises her issue with the growing intellectual society’s archaic views and bashes them with her pointed arguments. This book is a powerful work on an important subject where we should note that men and women are humans and we should all be proud feminists!
30 people found this helpful
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Lucybird
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
For People Who Don''t Consider Themselves To Be Feminists
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 6, 2015
I wanted to read this little book, or essay if you want after seeing it around on a few blogs. For me despite it being so short it still seemed to have things which longer feminist writings have. It said a lot of the same things that Everyday Sexism says, but I didn’t...See more
I wanted to read this little book, or essay if you want after seeing it around on a few blogs. For me despite it being so short it still seemed to have things which longer feminist writings have. It said a lot of the same things that Everyday Sexism says, but I didn’t review that because it made me angry for the wrong reasons. We should All Be Feminists talks of some of the same sort of level of sexism, a sort of thing which seems so ingrained that it’s almost seen as normal and therefore acceptable. She also talks of the sort of attitudes towards feminists which makes feminism into some sort of bad words. I know women who would say that they aren’t feminists, but that’s like saying men are better, that they should get better chances and opportunities. How can you be a woman but not be a feminist? She talked widely of her experiences in Nigeria- her native country, and made it seem that sexism is worse there, maybe it s, maybe not, it could just be what she is sharing. It’s a good book for people who wouldn’t really consider themselves as being feminists, women and men alike.
19 people found this helpful
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