Skip to main content

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Being a strong woman isn’t remarkable, it’s normal


On May 29, 2015, writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie addressed the class of 2015 at Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Below, an excerpt of her remarks to the women graduating this year. 

I wasn’t very interested in makeup until I was in my twenties, which is when I began to wear makeup. Because of a man. A loud, unpleasant man. He was one of the guests at a friend’s dinner party. I was also a guest. I was about 23, but people often told me I looked 12. The conversation at dinner was about traditional Igbo culture, about the custom that allows only men to break the kola nut, and the kola nut is a deeply symbolic part of Igbo cosmology.

I argued that it would be better if that honor were based on achievement rather than gender, and he looked at me and said, dismissively, “You don’t know what you are talking about, you’re a small girl.”

I wanted him to disagree with the substance of my argument, but by looking at me, young and female, it was easy for him to dismiss what I said. So I decided to try to look older.

So I thought lipstick might help. And eyeliner.

And I am grateful to that man because I have since come to love makeup, and its wonderful possibilities for temporary transformation.

So, I have not told you this anecdote as a way to illustrate my discovery of gender injustice. If anything, it’s really just an ode to makeup.

It’s really just to say that this: your graduation is a good time to buy some lipsticks—if makeup is your sort of thing—because a good shade of lipstick can always put you in a slightly better mood on dark days.

It’s not about my discovering gender injustice because of course I had discovered years before then. From childhood. From watching the world.

I already knew that the world does not extend to women the many small courtesies that it extends to men.

I also knew that victimhood is not a virtue. That being discriminated against does not make you somehow morally better.

And I knew that men were not inherently bad or evil. They were merely privileged. And I knew that privilege blinds because it is the nature of privilege to blind.

I knew from this personal experience, from the class privilege I had of growing up in an educated family, that it sometimes blinded me, that I was not always as alert to the nuances of people who were different from me

[…]

 Victimhood is not a virtue. We can not always bend the world into the shapes we want but we can try, we can make a concerted and real and true effort. And you are privileged that, because of your education here, you have already been given many of the tools that you will need to try. Always just try. Because you never know.

And so as you graduate, as you deal with your excitement and your doubts today, I urge you to try and create the world you want to live in.

Minister to the world in a way that can change it. Minister radically in a real, active, practical, get your hands dirty way.

Wellesley will open doors for you. Walk through those doors and make your strides long and firm and sure.

Write television shows in which female strength is not depicted as remarkable but merely normal.

Teach your students to see that vulnerability is a HUMAN rather than a FEMALE trait.

Commission magazine articles that teach men HOW TO KEEP A WOMAN HAPPY. Because there are already too many articles that tell women how to keep a man happy. And in media interviews make sure fathers are asked how they balance family and work. In this age of ‘parenting as guilt,’ please spread the guilt equally. Make fathers feel as bad as mothers. Make fathers share in the glory of guilt.

Campaign and agitate for paid paternity leave everywhere in America.

Hire more women where there are few. But remember that a woman you hire doesn’t have to be exceptionally good. Like a majority of the men who get hired, she just needs to be good enough.

[…]

All over the world, girls are raised to be make themselves likeable, to twist themselves into shapes that suit other people.

Please do not twist yourself into shapes to please. Don’t do it. If someone likes that version of you, that version of you that is false and holds back, then they actually just like that twisted shape, and not you. And the world is such a gloriously multifaceted, diverse place that there are people in the world who will like you, the real you, as you are.

I am lucky that my writing has given me a platform that I choose to use to talk about things that I care about, and

 The only acceptable way of wasting your time on earth is online shopping. I have said a few things that have not been so popular with a number of people. I have been told to shut up about certain things – such as my position on the equal rights of gay people on the continent of Africa, such as my deeply held belief that men and women are completely equal. I don’t speak to provoke. I speak because I think our time on earth is short and each moment that we are not our truest selves, each moment we pretend to be what we are not, each moment we say what we do not mean because we imagine that is what somebody wants us to say, then we are wasting our time on earth.

I don’t mean to sound precious but please don’t waste your time on earth, but there is one exception. The only acceptable way of wasting your time on earth is online shopping.

Okay, one last thing about my mother. My mother and I do not agree on many things regarding gender. There are certain things my mother believes a person should do, for the simple reason that said person ‘is a woman.’ Such as nod occasionally and smile even when smiling is the last thing one wants to do. Such as strategically give in to certain arguments, especially when arguing with a non-female. Such as get married and have children. I can think of fairly good reasons for doing any of these. But ‘because you are a woman’ is not one of them. And so, Class of 2015, never ever accept ‘Because You Are A Woman’ as a reason for doing anything.

Finally I would like to end with a final note on the most important thing in the world: love.

Now girls are often raised to see love only as giving. Women are praised for their love when that love is an act of giving. But to love is to give AND to take.

Please love by giving and by taking. Give and be given. If you are only giving and not taking, you’ll know. You’ll know from that small and true voice inside you that we females are so often socialized to silence.

Don’t silence that voice. Dare to take.

Congratulations.

*****

Source. qz.com.

Comments

  1. Great speech and perspective, love is everything and everything is love. Happy new month!

    ReplyDelete
  2. She has spoken well. She is telling women what a lot of our own elders failed to tell us. I always thank God for the feminist in my life...my father who told me many of the same things.

    www.pynk360.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. "...That being discriminated against does not make you somehow morally better..."

    "...I knew that men were not inherently bad or evil. They were merely privileged. And I knew that privilege blinds because IT IS THE NATURE OF PRIVILEGE TO BLIND ..."

    And because of this privilege alot of men are insensitive to the trails of not just women, but to almost everything around them...general suffering. Privilege blinds, but instead of us to detest this trait, we can use it to heal the world. Great write-up by Chimamanda.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I don’t speak to provoke. I speak because I think our time on earth is short and each moment that we are not our truest selves, each moment we pretend to be what we are not, each moment we say what we do not mean because we imagine that is what somebody wants us to say, then we are wasting our time on earth.#spoton!!
    I reallly thank God for people like Chimamanda who never fails to open our 'eyes', its now left for us to see or not to see.
    Very interesting read.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I always enjoy chimamanda's write-ups, but most times I remember this babe ain't based in naija where the men sometimes have it all......So I just nod my head and remember the reasons for most divorces are the 'feminist movement'.....TNHW

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My thoughts exactly.... Chimamanda is an exceptional writer...

      Delete
  6. Chimamanda is a great writer I admire so much, one of the few ladies that keeps me straight up, aiming for greater heights... It can only get better

    ReplyDelete
  7. What's not to love about this woman please

    ReplyDelete
  8. "I knew that privilege blinds because it is the nature of privilege to blind."

    "I speak because I think our time on earth is short and each moment that we are not our truest selves, each moment we pretend to be what we are not, each moment we say what we do not mean because we imagine that is what somebody wants us to say, then we are wasting our time on earth."

    Please this applies to both men and women... I hate anybody that acts like this second quote. I runaway from them. If u don't like me, show it. If you do, show it. Life is too too short Plz!!!!! Cos I will do the same to you.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I wish I had this ability, to be able to put to words the exact things I mean. It feels like Chimamanda can't be misunderstood. Every sentence made sense.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I love reading Chimamanda's write-ups. Her depth in reasoning is very refreshing.i especially like when she throws in a sliver of humour.

    I remember some years ago,I took a boyfriend-to-be to a book signing by Chimamanda at Debonaires bookstores Yaba. He was so uncomfortable and angry because to him, her feminist ideas will be the bane of a Nigerian woman. He became boyfriend-to-be-Not that day.

    Toothfairy

    ReplyDelete
  12. She always always makes sense with he write ups..

    ReplyDelete
  13. What's not to love about this speech? Salient points.

    ReplyDelete
  14. "Please do not twist yourself into shapes to please. Don’t do it. If someone likes that version of you, that version of you that is false and holds back, then they actually just like that twisted shape, and not you. And the world is such a gloriously multifaceted, diverse place that there are people in the world who will like you, the real you, as you are".

    I choose to be the best version of me.
    Love the way she puts down her thoughts and beliefs in writing.

    Girl power!!!

    ReplyDelete
  15. "Please do not twist yourself into shapes to please. Don’t do it. If someone likes that version of you, that version of you that is false and holds back, then they actually just like that twisted shape, and not you. And the world is such a gloriously multifaceted, diverse place that there are people in the world who will like you, the real you, as you are".

    I choose to be the best version of me.
    Love the way she puts down her thoughts and beliefs in writing.

    Girl power!!!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Finally I would like to end with a final note on the most important thing in the world: love.

    Now girls are often raised to see love only as giving. Women are praised for their love when that love is an act of giving. But to love is to give AND to take.

    Please love by giving and by taking. Give and be given. If you are only giving and not taking, you’ll know. You’ll know from that small and true voice inside you that we females are so often socialized to silence.

    Don’t silence that voice. Dare to take.




    Sometimes I can't even put to words the way Chimamanda makes me feel. She's the best!

    ReplyDelete
  17. She's amazingly gifted. Sometimes I get jealous of her. She knows exactly what she wants out of life and pursues it so fearlessly. I wish I could be that way... I really do.
    She's amazing and this speech is everything!!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Wordgarsm: the state of orgarsmic euphoria induced by reading a piece of work.
    N that's how I feel about this and most of Chimamanda's writings folks!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Turia Pitt Suffered 65% Burns But Loved Conquered All...

Amazing Story Shared by Dr. Ben Carson on Facebook, i thought it is inspiring and i decided to share;

The Australian ex-model Turia Pitt suffered burns to 65 per cent of her body, lost her fingers and thumb on her right hand and spent five months in hospital after she was trapped by a grassfire in a 100 kilometre ultra-marathon in the Kimberley. Her boyfriend decided to quit his job to care for her recovery. 
Days ago, in an interview for CNN they asked him:
"Did you at any moment think about leaving her and hiring someone to take care of her and moving on with your life?"

His reply touched the world:

"I married her soul, her character, and she's the only woman that will continue to fulfill my dreams."

***
This made me very reflective. I just wonder; if the person you love today encounters an incident or accident that transforms who they are physically, it could be amputation, it could be paralysis, it could be severe burns that scald their flesh beyond recognition, w…

#WriteRight. VIVIAN: MY FIRST SEX EXPERIENCE WITH MY BOYFRIEND

He was my coursemate, crush, then my boyfriend.... he was super
intelligent, smart, tall, dark and handsome. Believe me he got
swag, but he didn't seem to notice me. (I'm a nerd but a sassy one
if I say so myself).  So oneday I decided to take it to another level..
After listening to a song "IF YOU LOVE SOMEBODY TELL THEM THAT YOU
LOVE THEM and watching the season film of The Secret Life of
American Teenagers. ..when Amy Jeugerns mum told her "you are only
young once". LOL that part got me.
Hope you know what i mean?

Though I'm okay with chemistry class I approached him to coach me for
the Quiz that was coming up, we found out that we had this
great chemistry between us.. hehehe both the covalent and
electrovalent bonds....

So one thing led to another till one unusual Saturday. I invited
him to my house and he came. The guy got swag, he even came
with a packet of durex condom.
We talked for a while and and and and and and
Kai!
See how you are serious dey read this story....!
My…

...

Good morning people! 
Just checking in to sign the register. Lol. It's been a very busy week and it looks like it might be an even busier weekend. I was hoping to get some writing done when I got to the airport yesterday but I even almost missed my flight. It was hopeless trying to do any work on the plane as it was bumpy af, and this toddler behind me wouldn't stop screaming in piercing shrieks like he was being exorcised. 
I got into town pretty late and needed to keep an appointment ASAP. I'm heading out right now and it's going to be a long day, but thought I should drop this first. 
Have a splendid day. Im'ma be back soon.

One More Post...

THE ‘NEW’ SIDE CHICK: I WAS HER

A side chick is commonly known as a mistress or a woman that’s romantically involved with a man who is in a committed relationship.  However after doing some reflecting, I realize that’s not the only type of side chick.  I want to discuss “the new side chick”–a woman who decides to stay by a man’s side after he has expressed his lack of relationship intentions with her through his words or actions.  So many women have made this mistake at least once in their lifetime, and unfortunately I’ve done the same thing. I like to think of the new side chick as an appetizer.  You’re there just to satisfy the immediate appetite of the man, but as soon as that mouth-watering entrée comes out to the table, you will get pushed to the side, literally.  Why?  Because that entrée is what he really wanted; he went to the restaurant to order steak, not hot wings.  You were just a placeholder, fling, temporary commitment, or  maybe even just a “good ol time” until what he really wanted was presented to hi…

Shhhhhhh....

I'm in an amebo mood tonight. Don't ask me, I honestly don't know why. Also I'd like to share too but I'd do that anonymously in the comment section. Tonight I want to talk about secrets. It's ok, we can all be anonymous. 
Is it true that EVERYBODY has a secret? 
Is there anyone here who doesn't have a secret? I'd really like to know; You're a completely open book and there's not ONE thing about you that you wouldn't mind other people knowing about? Please raise your hands up. 
And for the rest of us, what's something about you that no one knows, or very few people know? Who's got a dark secret here, or a weird one, or a funny one even? I really don't mean to be invasive but I don't want to be the only one sharing, plus I think hearing other people's secrets is quite fun, don't you think?

Let's Be Random Together! (Open Keypad).

Hey guys, a while back blog reader F said something about creating an Open Keypad post, where you can write whatever you want in the comment section. I thought it was a fun idea!
So who is interested? Comment on anything you feel like, ask me or anyone a question, talk about how your day went, your job, your interests, tell us something about you that we don't know, share a testimony with us, rant about anything you feel like, talk about your crush/boo/spouse/relationship/marriage, challenges you're facing, ANYTHING AT ALL! 
I'll only make one request; that we stay civil. 

(F it was you who made this suggestion, right? I'm not too sure and I can't even remember the post the comment was made on). 
BTW please Ejoeccome out come out, wherever you are!

Question of The Day.

TTB readers doesn't this tweet below remind you of something?
That mail that someone sent me a few weeks back. 
But why on earth should a man sleep with his son's fiancé? But what am I saying, some men even sleep with their daughters...

Oh well, I'm throwing the question to you. What has happened in your life that you never saw coming, you never hesperred it, you never imagined could happen, you never imagined could happen to you? 
It could be good, it could be bad, it could be ugly. Do tell!
And it can be more than one. Let me tell you a few. 
-owning a blog -week long dry fast at Prayer City (I never hesperred it).  -staying in an (emotionally) abusive relationship.
The others require anonymity. LOL. Now over to you.

Adventures, Fun, Friendship & Laughter at the TTB Hangout (Lekki Conservation Center).

Nicole to Clare: mummy lets go. I want to climb that ropy thing!

Isn't Clare beautiful?!

Uyi et moi. Clowning. 

Mother & child. 


Scary af! Trish on the ramp. The chica loves the outdoors so much, she was like a kid in a candy store. She and Uyi took this walk twice! More power to them, you can't pay me to do this a second time.


Uyi & Tiwa