In We Should All Be Feminists, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the 21st century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. Drawing extensively on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the often-masked realities of sexual politics, she explores what it means to be a woman. This essay was based on the author's TED talk of the same name.
Here are some questions to consider when discussing We Should All Be Feminists:
1. Do you call yourself a feminist? Why or why not?
2. What is a feminist? Adichie says, “My own definition is a feminist is a man or a woman who says, yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better. All of us, women and men, must do better.” Do you agree with this definition?
3. Adichie says her brother is her favorite feminist. Do you have a favorite feminist?
4. Does the culture you grew up in have different expectations for boys and girls? At what age do distinctions between the genders start? Do you believe these expectations arise out of biological difference, or socialization?
5. There are many negative views of feminism. How do you think these evolved? How might co-opting a term work to the advantage of those who want to discredit a movement?
6. Do you know any boys or men who describe themselves as feminists? If you're male, and don't use the term, what would it feel like to do so?
7. Adichie describes how disadvantaged women negotiate for power in Nigeria; how might it be easier for women living in privilege to embrace feminism?
8. Feminism is interpreted differently by different people. Intersectionality is defined as "the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage." (Oxford Dictionary) How does your personal identity shape your values? You might use the University of Michigan's Social Identity Wheel to further this conversation.
9. Feminists are often described as “angry.” What is the place of anger in advancing or hindering a cause? Can you think of examples, in your own life or in popular culture, where male and female anger is treated differently?
10. Adichie thinks American women do not want to seem aggressive, that they are more invested in being “liked.” Is it possible to be “liked” and still insist on equal treatment?
11. Adichie points out that boys also struggle under strict beliefs about what it means to be masculine. Do you believe that boys and men pay a price in a world that devalues feminism or insists on hyper-masculinity? How?
Feminism, power, gender, gender expectations, coming-of-age, money, injustice, equality, masculinity, femininity, boys and girls, society, culture, tradition, society, socialization, roles, ambition, shame.