40) Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This is a short book, written as a letter to a friend who has just given birth to a daughter and who has asked for help on how to bring her up as a feminist. It is a follow-up, I assume to Ngozi Adichie’s excellent We Should All Be Feminists which is based on the text of an equally worth catching TED talk. This short book is structured in fifteen pieces of very practical advice that go to the centre of sexual politics in the current age. Suffice to say that this has seemed all too relevant in recent weeks.
At its heart, the content is about simply equality and raising a daughter with the “solid unbending belief…that I matter. I matter equally”. This is then followed by suggestions which speak to work, relationships, and trusting what they think. There is nothing here, I’d imagine, that would surprise a feminist from the 60s and 70s but there’s no doubting the requirement that it still needs saying (and particularly to new generations). And Adichie has a gift for clarity and power of communications.
As a writer, she is by turns honest, compelling and funny, with an adept turn of phrase that cuts through: “knowledge of cooking is not pre-installed in a vagina”, for example. There is something about it being the format of a letter, and it being such an honest and personal voice, that means it cuts through with an urgency and a passion that more academic or literary styles might not. For me, it is a no-brainer of a way to spend an hour or so; and a book (indeed both books) we should be passing on to those raising daughters and sons; and, indeed, those who are not.