This weekend is the first birthday of the child of one of my friends. Lots of celebrations are going on! As I was thinking about the little one's party and the joys and stresses of parenting, today’s book recommendation came to mind. It is written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in response to her friend, Ijeawele, asking for advice about how to raise her daughter, specifically about raising her as a feminist. To be perfectly honest, I know extraordinarily little about babies and small children, let alone how to raise one. Although this book is written to help her friend as a parent, it is far more than a book aimed at people with children (luckily for me).
‘Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions’ is written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who has also released many other fantastic works. These include ‘Half the Yellow Sun’, ‘Americanah’ and ‘We Should All Be Feminists’, which was written in 2014, three years before this book was released. Both ‘Dear Ijeawele’ and ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ are incredible and concise outlines of feminism. If you have time, both are worth reading. However, if I had to choose just one, I would recommend ‘Dear Ijeawele’. The Washington post described this book as “more personal, more urgent” than her previous work.
Some of the suggestions are as follows: “Teach Chizalum to read.” “Teach her to question language.” “Never speak of marriage as an achievement.” “Teach her to reject likeability.” These suggestions, short as they be and as simple as they may seem, can have huge impacts if they are followed. Since the way a parent acts will affect the actions of their child, these suggestions do not just aim to influence the child, but also the person reading the book. To finish, here is a wonderful quote –
“Your feminist premise should be: I matter. I matter equally. Not “if only.” Not “as long as.” I matter equally. Full stop.”