The "little book," as Adichie describes it, began as an email to a friend who was worried about raising a daughter in today's social climate. She asked Adichie for advice on raising a feminist daughter. The author responded with an email that eventually turned into a Facebook post that eventually turned into this book. A statement on womanhood, motherhood, and feminism today, Dear Ijeawele, Or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions is an essential read for anyone who is concerned with gender politics in the 21st century.
Bustle filmed Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's event in full, which you can watch below. If you don't have time to watch the whole thing, scroll down for 22 of her best quotes from the Dear Ijeawele book launch:
1“I don’t think of myself as a feminist activist… I think of myself fundamentally as a storyteller. I’m not a feminist activist; it’s not a label. I’m feminist, fiercely so. I will always be. I have always been.”
2"I’ve been a feminist since I was old enough to think, really. I’ve always been the kind of person who thinks that men and women are equal, full stop."
3"I think it’s very important for that a woman start out with the premise that she matters equally. I think that’s really important. And if you start out with that premise, then the decisions you make will fall into place, in a way. I say that because I think many societies condition women to think of themselves as just slightly below men, and then it makes it easier to justify many of the things women are deprived of. And we decide to say, the premise is different. The premise is full equality."
4"Feminism isn’t a cloak that I put on in the morning and take off at certain times. It’s who I am. I look at the world through eyes that are very alert to gender injustice, and I always will."
5"I find that I’m lonely in my rage about sexism. And that loneliness informs my rage."
6"She [Hillary Clinton] had to be forceful enough, but not too forceful so that she would be emasculating. And all of that was gendered. And it was frustrating because I could see what was happening."
7"I don’t want to sit with someone who thinks that women are objects. I just don’t want to."
8"For me, Trump represents the idea that you can debate the humanity of people. He’s someone who can castigate entire groups of people. And I don’t have the time for that at the moment. "
9“I want to be hopeful. And in general, I am hopeful, but there’s a sense that America is quite backward when it comes to gender. There’s a number of countries that have had women leaders, and it still feels like such an insurmountable thing in America. I think we need to have more women in positions of political authority or political power."
10" So Americans need to get out there and organize. Not to stay home. In a sense, if there’s the slightest silver lining... it's that this is a testing of the democracy, and sometimes things come out stronger once they’ve been tested."
11"I would often think to myself, 'Why are women and girls made to care about people who they genuinely don’t care about?'"
12"Why would I be worried about intimidating people? The kind of man who would be intimidated by me is not a man I am interested in."
13"It’s not about individual women; it’s about a system."
14"I think there is a kind of reflexive hostility about even the word 'feminism.' It brings out an ugly hostility in people like you will not believe. And it also brings out something unreasonable… people get very heated."
15"For progress to be made, I think it’s necessary to reach out to people who don’t necessarily agree."
16"It’s important. It’s morally urgent. And maybe in having those conversations, acknowledge that the word feminist is linked to left wing politics. And also say, to that person that you’re talking to… It’s important to note that everyone in this country has benefited from the historical movement. You’re no longer property. You can vote. But those conversations need to be had. And I think that they’re not going to be pleasant, and that’s OK."
17"I know I’m able to have empathy for men who have been assaulted, who’ve suffered. I don’t need to imagine that they’re my brother or my husband."
18"The whole goal of feminism is to become redundant. My dream is for a world where I won’t have to call myself a feminist because there will be gender justice. And to get there, it has to be a mass movement."
19"Feminism for me is not an exclusive little party that you get to go to when you’ve read the right books."
20“I think there’s the idea — and I think it’s a reasonable idea — that you do harm to an important idea when you commercialize it. But when it comes to feminism, I think that feminism is not that popular. A lot of people don’t give a fuck about it. And those are the people that we need to reach. And the little circle of people who are against commercialization is an echo chamber."
21"I think there’s a tendency to be — and I say this very carefully because I think I do this sometimes — to sort of occupy a sort of self-righteous place. Where you — because you belong to the oppressed group — you place a halo over your own head. It can be a little tricky. And then it’s easy to have an in-group. I worry that it’s not a very useful strategy. For me, what’s the point of all this? Is the point to say, 'We're the feminists? We’re the good ones? We get to go to this little party?' Or is the point to change the world? What’s the point?"
22"First we need to calm down, breathe, and get over ourselves.