Too Short for a Blog Post, Too Long for a Tweet 111

Here's two excerpts from a book I recently read, "Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions," by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie:

Be a full person. Motherhood is a glorious gift, but do not define yourself solely by motherhood. Be a full person. Your child will benefit from that. The pioneering American journalist Marlene Sanders, who was the first woman to report from Vietnam during the war (and who was the mother of a son), once gave this piece of advice to a younger journalist: “Never apologize for working. You love what you do, and loving what you do is a great gift to give your child.” 

I find this to be so wise and moving. You don’t even have to love your job; you can merely love what your job does for you—the confidence and self-fulfillment that come with doing and earning.

We teach girls to be likeable, to be nice, to be false. And we do not teach boys the same. This is dangerous. Many sexual predators have capitalized on this. Many girls remain silent when abused because they want to be nice. Many girls spend too much time trying to be “nice” to people who do them harm. Many girls think of the “feelings” of those who are hurting them. This is the catastrophic consequence of likeability. We have a world full of women who are unable to exhale fully because they have for so long been conditioned to fold themselves into shapes to make themselves likeable. 

So instead of teaching Chizalum to be likeable, teach her to be honest. And kind. 

And brave. Encourage her to speak her mind, to say what she really thinks, to speak truthfully. And then praise her when she does. Praise her especially when she takes a stand that is difficult or unpopular because it happens to be her honest position. Tell her that kindness matters. Praise her when she is kind to other people. But teach her that her kindness must never be taken for granted. Tell her that she, too, deserves the kindness of others. Teach her to stand up for what is hers. If another child takes her toy without her permission, ask her to take it back, because her consent is important. Tell her that if anything ever makes her uncomfortable, to speak up, to say it, to shout.
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