Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
First Published: March 7, 2017
Genres: Essays, Feminism
A few years ago, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie received a letter from a dear friend from childhood, asking her how to raise her baby girl as a feminist. Dear Ijeawele is Adichie's letter of response.
Here are fifteen invaluable suggestions--compelling, direct, wryly funny, and perceptive--for how to empower a daughter to become a strong, independent woman. From encouraging her to choose a helicopter, and not only a doll, as a toy if she so desires; having open conversations with her about clothes, makeup, and sexuality; debunking the myth that women are somehow biologically arranged to be in the kitchen making dinner, and that men can "allow" women to have full careers, Dear Ijeawele goes right to the heart of sexual politics in the twenty-first century. It will start a new and urgently needed conversation about what it really means to be a woman today.
Dear Ijeawele is a letter written by the author to a friend with advice on how to raise a daughter as a feminist. Adichie’s letter goes above and beyond modern feminism and touches on subjects of marriage, motherhood, fatherhood, and the importance of maintaining one’s individuality. The suggestions that she makes aren’t just great suggestions for mothers and daughters about how to be a good woman and feminist, but instead gives advice on how to be a good human being. Adichie also discusses traditional Nigerian expectations of gender roles and the ways that it shapes both men and women.
“If we don’t place the straightjacket of gender roles on young children, we give them space to reach their full potential.”
Adichie’s discussions of marriage and motherhood hit really close to home for me which I didn’t expect. As a now-divorced wife and mother looking back on the mistakes that I made and how I compromised myself so much to the point of not being able to recognize myself anymore, I wish that I had had this book years ago. The book definitely gives me a lot to think about and offers advice that I would like to apply to my own life as a mother of two girls.
Overall I found the letter to be intelligent and extremely empowering. It’s a decent feminism 101 that maybe won’t be the most groundbreaking for many feminists, but it’s a good introduction. Adichie is very direct in the way that she talks about various topics but not in an overbearing manner, her writing is actually pretty approachable and easy to digest. The letter is a fairly quick read that can be completed in one sitting and it is absolutely filled to the brim with valuable insight. This letter would make a great discussion piece not just for mothers, but for any man or woman with or without children and I highly recommend it.
- Pros: Wonderful primer about feminist issues for parents, Adichie is a skilled writer and her work is engaging.
- Cons: At times a bit simplistic, it won’t be anything new or ground-breaking about feminism.