Here’s why we need to read Chimamanda

Its difficult to pick a favorite but a quote which completely took me into its grip and brings to light something so significant which impacts me as a woman, a daughter, a mother, a writer, a working woman who relentlessly works towards reaching the top rungs of the ladder is-

“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man. Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same? We raise girls to see each other as competitors not for jobs or accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men. We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are.”

This quote  is by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who is a Nigerian author, a powerful unapologetic feminist whose work is being recognized all over the globe. There is something about this woman.  I first read an article about her on Women’s Web which is community for women, where I blog regularly. I was completely in awe of her. The truth laid bare, without mincing words or sugar coating it.

There is quite a  heated debate these days on feminism- with most people not really following why we need it. Heard of femimazi? Often women are being labelled as feminazis when they open their mouth to voice out their opinions, they are badly trolled and threatened of dire consequences. There is quite a distorted version of feminist out there in people’s minds which makes one wonder ” Are we overdoing it?”

NO we aren’t. Feminism which is all about equality is needed more than  ever which brings me to this powerful quote as I see how true it holds in today’s world. However progressive  and modern we claim to be in our outlook, do you honestly think we are? We encourage our girls to study, play like a boy and tell her that yes she can reach the stars. There is nothing to stop her, her  gender is not a barrier. But hardly does she blossom from a little girl to a woman, you find the tone in the voice change and it makes you cringe. If the girl has studied too much, makes a lot of money, you ask her to slow down. Finding a groom who meets your salary level , leave aside beating it is going to be tough. Your main goal should be to marry, settle down, have kids, keep your family happy. What will you achieve making a career, making money when your family is not happy? This  is often told to young women and many of them quite their jobs, give up their dreams  and then the same set of people say “What can we do to bring up the diversity ratio in our organisation?” What an irony.

Women are shown a picture where their outward appearance and beauty is what defines them and its like a constant struggle to live up to that fragile image and compete with each other for attention of the best man. Its sad to see women compete with their kind to be the best one and woo a man with their beauty rather than focus on  being the best in their job, or excelling at sports or making their passion come true. Women are made to feel uncomfortable about their sexuality, as if its something that needs to be hushed up.

While it will take ages to change the mentality of people and society, be the change you want to see. As a sister, mother, daughter, friend, colleague, do your bit in busting these stereotypes- rather than telling that little girl  that she is a pretty face, tell her that she is pretty intelligent, pretty bold, pretty compassionate, pretty humorous. That’s why I always say I will not let my child be limited to the 6 letter word pretty.

Tell that woman at work that her dreams are important. It may mean fighting a  few bitter battles, but persist she must and give her the courage and stand by her side. Tell your little boy these things as well for only then one day we may see a world where your gender does not define or limit you. How wonderful that would be. Wish I live to see that day.

Linking up With #Quotedstories by Upasana & Rohan.


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2 thoughts on “Here’s why we need to read Chimamanda

  1. I read this 3 times Akshata. Honestly, I loved it- the way you wrote and the message you are trying to convey. Liked it when you said- Do not bound the child to 6 letter word-pretty. What an irony how we always weigh girls in terms of beauty- be it a toddler or a young woman. You said it right, change begins with us. Thanks fr bringing this out Akshata. World need articles like this. Thanks for sharing the powerful quote with us.

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  2. You have discussed at length how we are education both boys and girls in the wrong way. We should respect a woman the way she is and this so-called expectation from women is so ludicrous. It’s not how we will evolve as human beings. I love the way how you’ve described being pretty from a man’s perspective. It’s true the male ego is intimidated by a woman’s intelligence.Akshata! It’s thought provoking and the truth. Btw, where is the test that I should pass…lol?

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