“I am a feminist”
“You hate men, don’t you? You’re a supporter of terrorism.”
When Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie heard that someone called her a feminist, she felt as if the tone was the same as if one called her an advocate of terrorism.
Feminism has evolved into meaning the advancement of women’s rights over those of men, the fight to show hate towards men. However, in Adichie’s book, Why We Should All Be Feminists, the author sheds light on what the true definition of feminism is and reminds us why the fight for gender equality must strive on.
Despite how many hold the misconception that feminism means one gender overpowering the other, the definition of feminism is the right of both men and female for opportunities. In other words, feminists hold the same value and goal with those who believe in gender equality.
Some may argue why the word feminist? Why not a believer in human rights? Adichie refutes this argument by claiming that it would be “dishonest.” To use an ambiguous expression ‘human rights’ is to “deny the specific and particular problem of gender,” to reject that the inequality aims at women. The author’s rebuttal to an opposing idea that I even once believed in has brought forth an important lesson: the words we say and the labels that we give to people all matter.
Simple, commonplace words like ‘guys’ have important effects on others. In class time or outside, many of my peers and even teachers use the word on a day to day basis such as “hi, guys” or “guys, pay attention!” Even I, as someone who confidently identifies as a feminist, use that word to my friends. However, we never say “hi, guys and girls!” or “guys and girls, pay attention!” Is it that we overgeneralize our sayings? Or is it because the word has evolved to incorporate both girls and boys? No. It is because we set the standard of society as men, whether that is appearance or strength.
Despite the numerous faults and misunderstandings in our society today, Adichie reminded me that the fight must continue. At my school, a group of students including me received great lashback from others when we placed feminism posters around the school, many of whom wrote offensive words on them. Others ask us, “why do you continue to fight for it when you are receiving so much criticisms?” We reply with boldness that this advancement must strive because with educating the people around us and beyond, we will be able to bring forth gender equality.
I am reminded of a quote from Adichie’s book that keeps me aiming for what I believe in: “culture does not make people. People make culture. If it is true that the full humanity of women is not our culture, then we can and must make it our culture.”