Books, General

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions | Review

Title:Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions

Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Rating: 5 Stars

Dates read: 24 Apr 19

Publication date: 07 Mar 2017

Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group

Genre(s): Non-fiction, Epistolary, Feminism

Description:

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.

This is not going to be the longest of reviews because there is only so many ways you can give effusive praise for a piece of non-fiction or for an author. Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche has become a recognised name and face for feminist non-fiction and I absolutely adore the pieces I have read by her. She has a brilliant way of making the mundane seem important and questioning the obvious choice. She instils wisdom in what she says and writes, and questions any level of patriarchy throughout society.

I was skeptical that this book would tell me anything that I hadn’t heard before, and to a point this was the case. That said, the author has a turn of phrase that really hammers home the message she is delivering. This book is essentially a love letter (not romantic, but caring) to a friend and her child, and so the belief and passion within her words are so much more powerful and impactful. She shares wisdom and life choices that shouldn’t need to be said – choosing any toy you want and allowing you to have dolls AND helicopters – in a way that makes you think “oh yeah we should do that”.

I’d like to think that I make choices in my life because I want to do something and not because I am allowed to as a woman, but the author’s ‘teachings’ for her friend and their child really make you question the what and the why that goes into decisions you make in your own life. The book made me more aware of sexual politics and really made me question whether the choices I made were my own, or whether they were heavily influenced or allowed by a patriarchal society. It really hits the nail on the head about what it is like to grow up as a young woman in the world of social media, the internet, and 21st century dynamics, and really spoke to me on a level that took me by surprise.

I really feel like Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche should become required reading for men and for women alike. She delivers powerful messages and makes you question yourself and your actions, an act of self-reflection that is never a bad thing. I do feel like this book would be that much better if I was an expecting or new mother, but the messages are equally as relevant to a developing woman as they would be to teach a child, a feat of writing prowess that is commendable and should be celebrated.

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