On September 7, 2018, serial award winning Nigerian writer and feminist,
Inbound Conference is an annual four-day event by a community of like-minded people, passionate about commerce, marketing and projects with communal benefit.
For this event, Chimamanda-Adichie took time to discuss regular issues of feminism, racism, patriarchy and consent. Some of her quotes can be seen in the following tweets;
The accomplished public speaker started off her usual by creating a narrative around an analogy of her childhood affection for the confectionery, bagel towards understanding how reading exposes people to perspective.
Importantly though, she chronicled how she left Medical School after one year, took the SATs and left for America to pursue her dream of “reading and writing.”
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To describe racism, she described how she tried to get her first book published, but she couldn’t get an agent. One of those agents even reportedly told her, “Nobody knows where Nigeria is and nobody cares.”
Another person told her that, “I don’t know how to sell you. If you were Indian, I could paint you as the new Arundhati Roy…” because no contemporary Nigerian writer had been published for the American market.
While she does consider America her home, she feels the most significant thing to happen to her in America was that,”I became black… In Nigeria, everyone was black. In America, I very quickly realized I was black. There was much I didn’t understand about this new identity that had been thrust on me.”
She continues that, “My ignorance of America was matched only by how quickly is absorbed the negative stereotypes attached to black people.”
While describing how blackness in America is so pronounced, she says that, “The problem is not being black because black is beautiful. The problem is that American society has imposed on blackness, the burden of many negative stereotypes.”
Amongst other things, she acknowledged that, “black don’t crack” and discussed a college professor who couldn’t believe a black student — her — had written the best essay in class.
Incredibly, her first agent led her to appreciate independent book sellers.
Black Woman and anger
Her idea is, “Anger is a valid human emotion and women are judged very harshly about showing anger. In this country, it is terrible for women to show anger and it is catastrophic for black women to show anger because the stereotype of the angry black woman is one that is impossible to shrug off once it has been pinned on you.”
She continues, “It will follow you for the rest of your life; it will prevent you from getting opportunities that you deserve. I know many accomplished women of all races who have held themselves back in many situations because they don’t want to be considered angry or difficult; they don’t want to be called a b***h.”
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She says, “There is nothing a woman should be because she is a woman, and there is nothing a man should be because he is a man… Women are not special, women are human, women are flawed just like men… If we keep saying women are special, then we judge them at a higher and unfair standard.”
Criticizing identity against what we feel is ideal
The best-selling author says, “Sometimes we are held back by what we carry in our head; by what we think should be, than what actually is… We need to widen our ideas of everything or we will be left behind.”
Incredibly, she also says that while being left-leaning, she likes listening to people she disagrees with.
The writer says, “What do we admire in men? What do we teach little boys? How is it that we hold men to such little standards? We tell women to protect themselves from rape which is all well and good, but why do we tell men not to rape? Masculinity is a small, tight, ugly cage and we need to break that cage and rebuild it. We trap male human beings in that cage.”
She continues, “Both men and women suffer from the illnesses that lead to suicide but it is men that have a much higher rate of dying by suicide. Why? Because men are socialized to suppress so many human parts of themselves, men are socialized not to ask for help, men are socialized to be afraid of fear, men are socialized not to show vulnerability.”
“From the moment we tell a little boy that ‘boys don’t cry’ or we tell a hurting teenager to ‘man up’ we are creating an adult man who will be cheated of the full range of his emotions. So, while men benefit from patriarchy, they also suffer from itand we can tell a different story about this, and remake ‘masculinity’”
#MeToo and why romance is not dead
Using the highlight of the infamous groping of singer, Ariana Grande at Aretha Franklin’s burial as analogy, she painted how male entitlement to female body led to that infamy as regards how the singer smiled.
Acknowledging the thing lines between flirtation and harassment, she says, “MeToo is not the end of romance. There is flirting that is charming, and respectful and welcome. And then, there is harassment that is unwelcome and unjust, and criminal…”
She continues, “Romance is not dead. Perhaps romance will finally be romance; perhaps some men will finally understand that real romance means understanding that women are human. That women’s needs are legitimate; that women matter. So long live romance and love.”
Importantly, she says, “In hearing one another’s stories, we have to start on the platform of good faith.”
Incredible stories that could really impact demographics.