The word feminist is not one that people claim very often or like to claim. I hesitate to say that in recent years people don’t want to claim to be this term, because even when the feminist movement was at its height, calling yourself a feminist wasn’t considered the cool thing to do. But I have noticed recently from reading articles on feminist websites that we wait anxiously for someone important to basically “out themselves” as a feminist. It’s considered a big deal for a celebrity or politician to claim that term.
And inevitably, people begin to ask you why you would claim it. I’m always amazed that people are so shocked that I’d call myself a feminist. Wow, a woman who wants equality calling herself a feminist, shocker! There are few other labels I could apply to myself that would spark such a shocked and confused reaction.
Recently, while spending far too much time on Tumblr, I came across a video from one of the latest TedxTalks. This particular series of TedxTalks focused on issues in Africa, and one talk in particular caught my attention. The talk was given by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a novelist and activist, and discussed issues of gender, particularly how they manifest in Africa. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a renowned Nigerian novelist, with degrees in Creative Writing and African Studies and a minor in political science. She is the author of award-winning novels Half of a Yellow Sun and Purple Hibiscus, and in 2009 published a collection of short stories called The Thing around Your Neck. She has also been listed by Time Magazine in 2012 as one of the top 100 most influential people in the world (source). In her talk, she explained why we all need to call ourselves feminists and not shy away from the label.
I watch a lot of TedxTalks, and I can honestly say that this is one of my favorites and describes perfectly why feminism and rethinking gender is so important. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie discusses why gender roles are so harmful to both men and women and offers ways to change things. She further illustrates how negative gender concepts affect men, not just women, and urges men to call themselves feminists. It’s a video very worth watching, and if you have about thirty minutes, I highly recommend you take a look.