“Her Type Of Feminism Is Not Mine” —Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie On Beyoncé
It’s a bittersweet fact to realize many people didn’t know who Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was until Beyonce sampled a portion of her speech, “We Should All Be Feminists,” for her 2013 track Flawless. On one hand, it’s a beautiful thing that a whole new audience has had their eyes opened to the wonders of the feminist author; on the other, Adichie is a star in her own right whose success shouldn’t be relegated to a Beyoncé feature, and it’s the latter that Adichie recently admitted she had a hard time dealing with.
When asked about the song in a recent interview with Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant, Adichie said this:
“In the first place: of course Beyoncé asked permission to use my texts, and I did give her permission. I think she’s lovely and I am convinced that she has nothing but the best intentions. In addition, Beyoncé is a celebrity of the first order and with this song she has reached many people who would otherwise probably never have heard the word feminism, let alone gone out and buy my essay.
“But I was shocked about how many requests for an interview I received when that song was released. Literally every major newspaper in the world wanted to speak with me about Beyoncé. I felt such a resentment (laughs loudly). I thought: are books really that unimportant to you? Another thing I hated was that I read everywhere: now people finally know her, thanks to Beyoncé, or: she must be very grateful. I found that disappointing. I thought: I am a writer and I have been for some time and I refuse to perform in this charade that is now apparently expected of me: ‘Thanks to Beyoncé, my life will never be the same again.’ That’s why it didn’t speak about it much.”
Further adding insult to injury is the fact that Adiche and Beyoncé are not cut from the same feminist cloth. The author went on to say:
“Her style is not my style, but I do find it interesting that she takes a stand in political and social issues. She portrays a woman who is in charge of her own destiny, who does her own thing, and she has girl power. I am very taken with that.
“Still, her type of feminism is not mine, as it is the kind that, at the same time, gives quite a lot of space to the necessity of men. I think men are lovely, but I don’t think that women should relate everything they do to men: did he hurt me, do I forgive him, did he put a ring on my finger? We women are so conditioned to relate everything to men. Put a group of women together and the conversation will eventually be about men. Put a group of men together and they will not talk about women at all, they will just talk about their own stuff. We women should spend about 20 percent of our time on men, because it’s fun, but otherwise we should also be talking about our own stuff.”
Thankfully, many are still taken with Adichie’s brand of feminism as well — her TED Talk is being translated into Dutch; hence the magazine interview — but there are no doubt many more who prefer Beyoncé’s watered down pop version. As the saying goes, you can lead them to the water, but you can’t make them drink.