Book Review: My Own Interpretation of We Should All be Feminists

Throughout high school, summer reading always included some randomly assigned books that normally had little to no significance in future lessons. We would MAYBE discuss the book for one week and then the theme, characters and plot would drift to the back of my mind as the class was told it would expand our “reading repertoire.” So naturally, when I got to college, I expected I was finally done with the painful summer reading books that infringed on my favorite summer activities. I was sadly mistaken when I found out that I did in fact have summer reading.

As I got the book, I first noticed how thin it was. I was relieved that it would be somewhat of a light read, maybe only take a half hour to an hour of my time. However, the title told me this was not at all like any other summer reading books from high school. “We Should All Be Feminists” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was hardly a book that could easily be forgotten.

Related Article: 8 Favorite Feminist Reads 

It is only the first week of school and I have already read the book three times. I was initially amazed at the complex and thorough explanation Adichie outlined of her own feminist journey. She describes her own personal experience from the first time she was called a feminist, by her childhood friend Okoloma when she was fourteen. Adichie recognized immediately the negative connotation associated with the word and knew that being called a feminist was not a compliment. She did not know the meaning behind this perceived insult and went home to look up the meaning of the word feminist

Starting with this moment, Adichie further explains her relationship with the word feminist and the meaning behind the socially charged word. She dives into the unsolicited advice people have given her, such as rejecting the label of a feminist, or the experiences both herself and her friends have endured in both social and professional settings as a result of being a woman. The shocking revelation of how common and frequent acts of gender discrimination are in our society emphasize the important solution Adichie presents: changing the way future generations of all genders are raised.

Related: Feminism is For Everyone 

She further elaborates on her proposed solution and after I finished the novel the first time, I sat back and reflected. I was so intrigued on the focus that individual experiences contribute to something larger in the socialization process. I could relate to some of the experiences and feelings Adichie described, but I also found myself not being able to say I went through the same exact journey. Just because I could not find myself relating to every one of Adichie’s own experiences tackling gender norms did not mean I could not empathize with the feelings she felt as a result of gender discrimination.

This book taught me that in order to see change, the first step starts with me. The inclusion of EVERYONE in order to tackle the uncomfortable discussions and expectations regarding all genders is so important in order to actually see a difference within our society. 

“We Should All Be Feminists” is also available in the format of a TED talk

So collegiettes, the change and the inclusion of feminism starts with you!