We Should All Be Feminists | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Summary of: We Should All Be Feminists
By: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Introduction

In ‘We Should All Be Feminists’, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie examines the complexities and misconceptions surrounding feminism. Our mobile book summary seeks to break down these complex ideas into an engaging, concise format. Adichie shares her experiences with feminism, revealing the ongoing discrimination women face and the ways in which these inequalities can negatively impact both sexes. This summary guides you through essential topics such as work-related equality, traditional gender expectations, and the influence of societal norms, while encouraging readers to question their preconceptions and imagine a more equitable world.

The Many Misunderstandings of Feminism

Feminism is a widely misunderstood concept. It has been associated with negative stereotypes such as aggression and jealousy. Many believe that the movement is no longer necessary because gender equality has been achieved. However, these beliefs are not only held by those who are against feminism but also by those who strive for gender equality. The author shares her experiences of encountering such attitudes towards feminism. She describes instances where she was advised not to call herself a feminist and how others believe that feminism is incompatible with certain traditions. The author’s male friend learned about everyday oppression towards women first-hand when a valet thanked him instead of the author for giving a tip. Feminism is not about hating men or causing a divide between the sexes, but rather, it promotes the idea of equal rights and opportunities for everyone.

Beyond Legal Measures

Despite laws in place, women still face gender-based discrimination, including the infamous glass ceiling and income gap. Moreover, subtle sexist attitudes continue to hold women back in reaching high ranking positions and getting recognized for their contributions in the workplace.

The fact that laws exist today that give women equal rights to participate in various areas of life, including politics and all career paths, may seem like progress. However, these laws do not guarantee equal treatment for women. Gender-based discrimination persists in various forms beyond the legal sphere.

One such form is the glass ceiling, a phenomenon whereby men tend to fill the highest positions in organizations, regardless of whether the field involves cooking, teaching, or the arts. Women, on the other hand, are often relegated to lower-ranking positions, and when they do get promoted, it is typically to a lesser extent than that of their male counterparts.

Furthermore, an income gap exists between genders in all fields, with male workers earning significantly more than their female colleagues. The discrepancy is particularly evident in full-time employment, with men earning 21% more than women in equivalent positions.

Subtle sexism is also a significant challenge for women. The anecdote about the female executive who was accused of being “difficult and aggressive” while performing a similar role to her male predecessor illustrates how people judge and treat men and women differently. Women are often held to stricter standards and criticized for behavior that would be praised if exhibited by a male colleague.

Despite being prohibited by law in most countries, gender-based discrimination is still rampant and manifests itself in various ways. The glass ceiling, income gap, and subtle sexist attitudes all contribute to the continued suppression of women, denying them the opportunities they deserve to advance in their careers and succeed in their chosen fields.

Discrimination Against Women in Society

Women face institutionalized discrimination in many aspects of society, including family, relationships, and sexuality.

Women face discrimination not only in the workplace, but throughout society. They are often viewed as second-class citizens and given fewer choices in how they choose to live their lives. For instance, women who prioritize their careers over starting a family are often stigmatized while the same choice is respected in men. In relationships, females are expected to put their dreams and aspirations on hold to raise children while men have no such expectations.

Cultures across the globe place emphasis on female virginity, using language that is loaded with judgement and limit female sexuality and desire. On the other hand, promiscuity is celebrated in men, leading to skewed expectations. Women are also expected to be submissive, agreeable and attractive, which implies that their existence is for male enjoyment.

Such pervasive beliefs cause men to treat women disrespectfully, and demonstrations following such behavior blames women. In Nigeria, single women are often mischaracterized, being perceived as prostitutes when they go to a club, not because they do not enjoy dancing but because of societal expectations shaped by culture. Women are even blamed for sexual assault because of provocative clothing choices.

It does not have to be this way, and both men and women must make changes to achieve a more equal society that offers equal opportunities to everyone.

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