Mini Review: “Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I’m not sure what to say about this small book outside that I think everyone should read it. Many of my sentiments about We Should All Be Feminists can also be expressed here, though this book is definitely more personal for Adichie, as she addresses this book to a friend who asked the question, “How can I raise my daughter feminist?”

a feminist manifestoTitle: Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions
Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
Release date: March 7, 2017
Genre: Non-fiction, essays, feminism
Length: 80 pages (hardcover)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads) “A few years ago, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie received a letter from a dear friend from childhood, asking her how to raise her baby girl as a feminist. Dear Ijeawele is Adichie’s letter of response.

Here are fifteen invaluable suggestions–compelling, direct, wryly funny, and perceptive–for how to empower a daughter to become a strong, independent woman. From encouraging her to choose a helicopter, and not only a doll, as a toy if she so desires; having open conversations with her about clothes, makeup, and sexuality; debunking the myth that women are somehow biologically arranged to be in the kitchen making dinner, and that men can “allow” women to have full careers, Dear Ijeawele goes right to the heart of sexual politics in the twenty-first century. It will start a new and urgently needed conversation about what it really means to be a woman today.”

five-starsMy Thoughts

“Your feminist premise should be: I matter. I matter equally. Not ‘if only.’ Not ‘as long as.’ I matter equally. Full stop.”

Adichie lays the book out in fifteen suggestions, and each are vital. One would think it to be common sense to raise boys and girls equally, without the stereotype of gender or cultural specifics, but sadly that is not the case. Adichie pulls from her own experiences along with what she has seen in the world and from her own culture. While I cannot vouch for the Nigerian aspects (as I am not Nigerian), I can definitely vouch for many other points made in the book. I love how she gives specific examples for each point as well, and points out various double standards between men and women (i.e. men can do this without question but women cannot).

“Do not ever tell her that she should or should not do something because she is a girl. ‘Because you are a girl’ is never a reason for anything. Ever.”

Ultimately, I feel Adichie telling her friend to raise her daughter to ask questions about everything–why things are or are not certain ways, why girls and boys do and do not do particular things, etc. But also to stand up for herself, which, I believe, is the most important message. But not only does Adichie give advice about the child, she also advises her friend on certain aspects of motherhood and parenthood, one of my favorites being it’s okay to ask for help. It’s always okay to ask for help, and no one should be afraid to do so.

Here are some of my other favorite quotes:

“Being a feminist is like being pregnant. You either are or you are not. You either believe in the full equality of men and women or you do not.”

“Gender roles are so deeply conditioned in us that we will often follow them even when they chafe against our true desires, our needs, our happiness.”

“We have a world full of women who are unable to exhale fully because they have for so long been conditioned to fold themselves into shapes to make themselves likeable.”

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