Skip to:Content
|
Bottom
Cover image for Dear Ijeawele, or A feminist manifesto in fifteen suggestions
Title:
Dear Ijeawele, or A feminist manifesto in fifteen suggestions
ISBN:
9780525494683
Edition:
Unabridged.
Physical Description:
1 audio disc (1 hr.) : CD audio, digital ; 4 3/4 in.
General Note:
Title from label.

Compact disc.
Genre:
Added Author:
Summary:
A few years ago, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie received a letter from a dear friend from childhood, asking her how to raise her baby girl as a feminist. This is Adichie's letter of response. Here are fifteen invaluable suggestions, compelling, direct, wryly funny, and perceptive, for how to empower a daughter to become a strong, independent woman. From encouraging her to choose a helicopter, and not only a doll, as a toy if she so desires; having open conversations with her about clothes, makeup, and sexuality; debunking the myth that women are somehow biologically arranged to be in the kitchen making dinner, and that men can 'allow' women to have full careers, Adichie goes right to the heart of sexual politics in the twenty-first century.
Holds:

Available:*

Library
Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Copies
Status
Searching...
Audiobook SCD 305.42 ADI 1 DISC 1 1
Searching...
Searching...
Audiobook SCD 305.42 ADI 1 DISC 1 1
Searching...
Searching...
Audiobook SCD 305.42 ADI 1 DISC 1 1
Searching...

On Order

Summary

Summary

New York Times Best Seller
A Skimm Reads Pick
An NPR Best Book of 2017

From the best-selling author of Americanah and We Should All Be Feminists comes a powerful new statement about feminism today--written as a letter to a friend.

A few years ago, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie received a letter from a dear friend from childhood, asking her how to raise her baby girl as a feminist. Dear Ijeawele is Adichie's letter of response.
Here are fifteen invaluable suggestions--compelling, direct, wryly funny, and perceptive--for how to empower a daughter to become a strong, independent woman. From encouraging her to choose a helicopter, and not only a doll, as a toy if she so desires; having open conversations with her about clothes, makeup, and sexuality; debunking the myth that women are somehow biologically arranged to be in the kitchen making dinner, and that men can "allow" women to have full careers, Dear Ijeawele goes right to the heart of sexual politics in the twenty-first century. It will start a new and urgently needed conversation about what it really means to be a woman today.


Author Notes

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in Enugu, Nigeria on September 15, 1977. She studied medicine and pharmacy at the University of Nigeria for a year and a half before moving to the United States, where she studied communication at Drexel University for two years. She received a bachelor's degree in communication and political science at Eastern Connecticut State University in 2001, a master's degree in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University, and a master's degree in African Studies from Yale University in 2008.

Her first novel, Purple Hibiscus, was published in 2003 and received the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book in 2005. Her other books include The Thing around Your Neck, Americanah, and We Should All Be Feminist. Half of a Yellow Sun won the Orange Prize in 2007. She was awarded the 2018 PEN Pinter Prize, for her body of work that shows 'outstanding literary merit'.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

New York Review of Books Review

When historians write about the mainstreaming of feminism in the early 21st century, they may well begin with "We Should All Be Feminists," a TED talk Adichie gave in 2012. One year later, Beyoncé sampled it in "Flawless," and by the time Adichie published a version as a short book, countless listeners knew her words by heart. Her new book is another brief manifesto, and it is easy to imagine her speaking it in the same contralto. "A couple of years ago," Adichie begins, "a friend of mine from childhood, who'd grown into a brilliant, strong, kind woman, asked me to tell her how to raise her baby girl a feminist." Adichie decided to write her a letter. "This book is a version of that letter, with some details changed." Each suggestion starts with an imperative. Some are concrete: "Teach Chizalum to read." Others are more abstract: "Teach her that the idea of 'gender roles' is absolute nonsense." Embedding us in the intimacy of a friendship, the prose makes reflections that might seem common sense in the abstract feel like discoveries. The form of the letter also enacts what Adichie says is her one fixed belief: "Feminism is always contextual." MOIRA WEIGEL is the author of "Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating."


Guardian Review

When a friend asked Adichie for advice on how to raise her baby daughter as a feminist, the writer came up with 15 suggestions It would be difficult not to like this little book, which shines with all Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 's characteristic warmth and sanity and forthrightness. Her friend Ijeawele wrote to ask how she should bring her baby daughter up a feminist, and in response, after the right hesitations -- "it felt like too huge a task" and "she will still turn out to be different from what you hoped, because sometimes life just does its thing" -- Adichie made a list of 15 suggestions. They are all more or less good ones. Ijeawele must be a full person and not let motherhood alone define her; she should go back to work if she wants to, and love "the confidence and self-fulfilment that come with doing and earning". She should share childcare equally, and not thank her husband for changing their daughter's nappy -- nor complain about the way he does it, either. They should never tell their daughter not to do something "because she's a girl"; they shouldn't encourage her to aim at getting married, as if it were an achievement in itself. Some of the suggestions feel like mountains of difficulty made simple: but then that's what manifestos are for. Number eight for instance, "Teach her to reject likability", burrows down into the heart of the matter -- but oh, how is it done? And reject all likability, all of it? And what if their daughter when she is a teenager wants and needs desperately to be liked? Adichie is keen to get her reading books but stories won't necessarily help: for so many centuries, and so persuasively, human stories and songs and dramas have mostly, with some honourable exceptions, been more interested in the beautiful women and punished the unlikable ones. ("No reference to examples in books," Anne Elliot insists to a male friend in Jane Austen's Persuasion. "Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story ... the pen has been in their hands.") Adichie does the same balancing act here as she does in her fictions, addressing the Nigerian experience and the world The old patterns are woven into the texture and colour of our desires and our meanings, they are entangled in our cultural foundations, waiting to trip us up again every time we believe we have finally raised our consciousness to extirpate them. In We Should All Be Feminists (another little essay book), Adichie wrote: "imagine how much happier we would be, how much freer to be our true individual selves, if we didn't have the weight of gender expectations". But what we learn from anthropology, and from experience, is that we aren't born free; we're born cultural creatures, unable to begin to have selves until our cultures give them name and form, have expectations of them. Which doesn't mean we can't loathe and oppose and change elements of our culture: it alerts us to the fact that the material we are grappling with doesn't exist outside of us, it's what we're made of. All the more reason, of course, for suspicious vigilance -- and manifestos for change. Ijeawele's daughter should "grow up to think of herself as, among other things, a proud Igbo woman", but selectively embracing "the parts of Igbo culture that are beautiful", rejecting "the parts that are not". Adichie manages the same consummate balancing act in her booklet as she does in her fictions: addressing a Nigerian friend and the specifics of Nigerian experience and at the same time addressing all of us, the world. A reader in the UK, picking her way through the 15 suggestions and between the differences and the common ground, enacts an important encounter: different worlds become that little bit more mutually intelligible. We need to know that capacious, volatile Nigerian contemporary culture -- where a daughter might be told to "bend down properly while sweeping, like a girl", or teased that she is "old enough to find a husband" -- also includes Adichie and her friends. They demand the whole lot for women, everything any woman could want anywhere: full equality and opportunity for selfhood and education, sexual freedom and freedom from shame, shared childcare and domestic work, their own surnames. The old asks, which in the UK can seem to have shrunk to conventional pieties, or surface adjustments strained uneasily over complex realities, recover their freshness in a new context. And it was in a "progressive British newspaper", so Adichie tells us, that Philip May was said to have "taken a back seat and allowed his wife, Theresa, to shine". Nice of him. It has fallen to Adichie to be a spokeswoman for more than fiction -- and no doubt that readiness to speak out is in her temperament as well as in the pressure of politics in her worlds (she divides her time between Nigeria and the US). It seems to work for her. In the last lines of Dear Ijeawele she hopes that when the baby girl grows up she "will be full of opinions, and that her opinions will come from an informed, humane and broad-minded place". We can never have too much of that. But it's in the description of characters and relationships in her novels -- in Ifemelu's story in Americanah, say, or in Olanna's in Half of a Yellow Sun, or in the richly sympathetic treatment of her male characters -- that Adichie puts her feminism to work. Fiction is so good at capturing the intricate, intimate tangles of sexual politics on the page: the dangers of wanting too much to be liked; the difficulties of negotiating authority and power with beloved men; the tensions between motherhood and selfhood or the places where cultural differences intersect with sex. It's where Adichie can test her hopes against the brute resistance of prejudice and injustice and war. - Tessa Hadley.


Library Journal Review

Before Adichie became a mother herself, a childhood friend-the titular Ijeawele-asked Adichie to tell her how to raise her baby girl as a feminist. She begins here with two "Feminist Tools": 1. "I matter equally. Full stop"; and 2. "Can you reverse X and get the same results?," a demand for gender equity. The suggestions that follow are fulfilling ("Motherhood is a glorious gift, but do not define yourself solely by motherhood"), just ("a father is as much a verb as a mother"), wise ("Her job is not to make herself likeable, her job is to be her full self"), and even literary ("Teach her to love books"). January LaVoy proves to be an ideal stand-in for the author, her voice thoughtful and supportive, insistent and assuring, as she reads Adichie's "honest and practical" letter. VERDICT For parents and children of all ages, Adichie's Manifesto should certainly encourage discussion and even enable change. ["A fast read and vital addition to all collections. Anyone interested in social change will enjoy": LJ 5/15/17 starred review of the Knopf hc.]-Terry Hong, -Smithsonian BookDragon, -Washington, DC © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Introduction   When a couple of years ago a friend of mine from childhood, who'd grown into a brilliant, strong, kind woman, asked me to tell her how to raise her baby girl a feminist, my first thought was that I did not know. It felt like too huge a task. But I had spoken publicly about feminism and perhaps that made her feel I was an expert on the subject. I had over the years also helped care for many babies of loved ones; I had worked as a babysitter and helped raise my nephews and nieces. I had done a lot of watching and listening, and I had done even more thinking.   In response to my friend's request, I decided to write her a letter, which I hoped would be honest and practical, while also serving as a map of sorts for my own feminist thinking. This book is a version of that letter, with some details changed.   Now that I, too, am the mother of a delightful baby girl, I realize how easy it is to dispense advice about raising a child when you are not facing the enormously complex reality of it yourself.   Still, I think it is morally urgent to have honest conversations about raising children differently, about trying to create a fairer world for women and men.   My friend sent me a reply saying she would "try" to follow my suggestions.   And in rereading these as a mother, I, too, am determined to try.   ****   Dear Ijeawele,   What joy. And what lovely names: Chizalum Adaora. She is so beautiful. Only a week old and she already looks curious about the world. What a magnificent thing you have done, bringing a human being into the world. "Congratulations" feels too slight.   Your note made me cry. You know how I get foolishly emotional sometimes. Please know that I take your charge--how to raise her feminist-- very seriously. And I understand what you mean by not always knowing what the feminist response to situations should be. For me, feminism is always contextual. I don't have a set-in-stone rule; the closest I have to a formula are my two "Feminist Tools" and I want to share them with you as a starting point.   The first is your premise, the solid unbending belief that you start off with. What is your premise? Your feminist premise should be: I matter. I matter equally. Not "if only." Not "as long as." I matter equally. Full stop.   The second tool is a question: Can you reverse X and get the same results?   For example: Many people believe that a woman's feminist response to a husband's infidelity should be to leave. But I think staying can also be a feminist choice, depending on the context. If Chudi sleeps with another woman and you forgive him, would the same be true if you slept with another man? If the answer is yes, then your choosing to forgive him can be a feminist choice because it is not shaped by a gender inequality. Sadly, the reality in most marriages is that the answer to that question would often be no, and the reason would be gender-based--that absurd idea of "men will be men," which means having a much lower standard for men.   I have some suggestions for how to raise Chizalum. But remember that you might do all the things I suggest, and she will still turn out to be different from what you hoped, because sometimes life just does its thing. What matters is that you try. And always trust your instincts above all else, because you will be guided by your love for your child. Here are my suggestions:   first suggestion Be a full person. Motherhood is a glorious gift, - but do not define yourself solely by motherhood. Be a full person. Your child will benefit from that. The pioneering American journalist Marlene Sanders, who was the first woman to report from Vietnam during the war (and who was the mother of a son), once gave this piece of advice to a younger journalist: "Never apologize for working. You love what you do, and loving what you do is a great gift to give your child."   I find this to be so wise and moving. You don't even have to love your job; you can merely love what your job does for you--the confidence and self-fulfillment that come with doing and earning.   It doesn't surprise me that your sister-in-law says you should be a "traditional" mother and stay home, that Chudi can afford not to have a double-income family.   People will selectively use "tradition" to justify anything. Tell her that a double-income family is actually the true Igbo tradition because not only did mothers farm and trade before British colonialism, trading was exclusively done by women in some parts of Igboland. She would know this if reading books were not such an alien enterprise to her. Okay, that snark was to cheer you up. I know you are annoyed-- and you should be--but it is really best to ignore her. Everybody will have an opinion about what you should do, but what matters is what you want for yourself, and not what others want you to want. Please reject the idea that motherhood and work are mutually exclusive.   Our mothers worked full-time while we were growing up, and we turned out well--at least you did; the jury is still out on me.   In these coming weeks of early motherhood, be kind to yourself. Ask for help. Expect to be helped. There is no such thing as a Superwoman. Parenting is about practice--and love. (I do wish, though, that "parent" had not been turned into a verb, which I think is the root of the global middle-class phenomenon of "parenting" as one endless, anxious journey of guilt.)   Give yourself room to fail. A new mother does not necessarily know how to calm a crying baby. Don't assume that you should know everything. Read books, look things up on the Internet, ask older parents, or just use trial and error. But above all, let your focus be on remaining a full person. Take time for yourself. Nurture your own needs.   Please do not think of it as "doing it all." Our culture celebrates the idea of women who are able to "do it all" but does not question the premise of that praise. I have no interest in the debate about women "doing it all" because it is a debate that assumes that caregiving and domestic work are singularly female domains, an idea that I strongly reject. Domestic work and caregiving should be gender-neutral, and we should be asking not whether a woman can "do it all" but how best to support parents in their dual duties at work and at home. Excerpted from Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.


Go to:Top of Page