I finally got hold of “Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and finished reading it in one sitting. I was not sure if it would be helpful to me considering how I am trying to a raise a boy. But I could not be more wrong. There are many points that she makes which are relevant to boys too. Whether you are raising a boy or a girl, do read this book. I loved it. I think every parent in this world should read this book.
- One valid point she makes is the separation of toys and clothes for boys and girls. I have always found that disturbing while shopping for my son. Why is everything pink and filled with dolls for girls? And why is everything blue and full of cars and trucks for boys? Why can’t we have everything in all the colors? Why can’t we have a doll wearing a blue or green dress and a car which is pink in color? My son recently liked a pink shopping cart which was in girl’s section because he has seen us do grocery shopping and he wanted one for himself to play with. They inherently assumed that boys will not like grocery shopping as only women shop and cook, so they only made pink ones and placed them in girls’ section. This really has to stop.
- Another point she talks about is how children are not supposed to do something because of their gender. Like a boy should not cry, lest it make him look weak. A girl is not supposed to run because it is “inappropriate” for a girl. I was scolded as a kid for running in a party along with my cousins. It is okay for boys to run while playing but not for girls.
- She also talks about how marriage is seen as an achievement for girls. You are constantly told to behave in a certain manner since you have to get married eventually. “You should not behave like this; your future husband and in-laws won’t like this attitude” etc. It’s as if women are born to get married. Thankfully, my mom never focused on marriage and instead made me focus first on education and career.
- Husband is not the owner of a girl after marriage. I have been trying to make people understand this ever since I got married. But people keep telling me to “ask his permission”, “appreciate him allowing me to do something” etc.
She says –“A husband is not a headmaster. A wife is not a schoolgirl.”
- I also loved this –
“Teach her that if you criticize X in women but do not criticize X in men, then you do not have a problem with X, you have a problem with women.”
This is so true as I see that women are not supposed to laugh loudly (it is inappropriate) but men can. Women should stop focusing on job once they have kids, but men can.
- One point which truly changed my view was this –
“We teach girls to be likeable, to be nice, to be false. And we do not teach boys the same.”
This is wrong on so many fronts. We girls have to please relatives, in-laws, husband, everyone. But men do not have to put effort in pleasing anyone.
- “Isn’t it odd that in most societies in the world today, women generally cannot propose marriage?” – I always wondered about this too in western societies. A girl cannot marry a man unless he proposes. This is so not good as a woman has to wait for years and years for a man to make the move.
This was an amazing read. 5 stars.