Don’t let the title scare you. I recently downloaded this short essay based on a TEDx talk of the same name by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. My husband and I were taking a little trip minus the monsters and I needed something to read. It was a shorter read than I was expecting but I found her views on Feminism enlightening. I believe personally if we want to change the mindset of the people we need to start with the kids and how we as adults impart our prejudices on them. This doesn’t just include feminism it includes race, culture, religion, mental health, and disability.
Chimamanda says ” Today, we live in a vastly different world. The person more qualified to lead is not the physically stronger person. It is the more intelligent, the more knowledgeable, the more creative, more innovative. And there are no hormones for those attributes. A man is as likely as a woman to be intelligent, innovative, creative. We have evolved. But our ideas of gender have not evolved very much.”
Chimamanda states that we do a great disservice to boys: ” We stifle the humanity of boys, we define masculinity in a very narrow way. Masculinity is a hard, small cage, and we put boys inside this cage. We teach boys to be afraid of fear, of weakness, of vulnerability. We teach them to mask their true selves.” I often hear parents telling their young boys “don’t cry be a big boy, big boys don’t cry.” Sometimes I to have found myself saying this, however, I make a habit to avoid this kind of talk if I can. It usually comes out when I am at my wit’s end and cannot think of anything sensible to say. I alway feel incredibly bad after knowing that my four-year-old is just a little human being who shouldn’t be ashamed of his emotions. When I am more rationale I try to have an open dialogue and not shut down his emotions the minute he lets them out.
An example Chimamanda uses to show how boys have to prove their masculinity is a boy having to always pay the bill even if he earns or receives the same pocket money as a girl. She says “What if both boys and girls were raised not to link masculinity and money? What if their attitude was not “the boys have to pay,” but rather, “whoever has more should pay……By far the worst thing we do to males – by making them feel they have to be hard – is that we leave them with very fragile egos. The harder a man feels compelled to be, the weaker his ego is. And then we do a much greater disservice to girls because we raise them to cater to the fragile egos of males”.
Chimamanda says “What if, in raising children, we focus on ability instead of gender? What if we focus on interest instead of gender? If you have girls read the book, if you have boys read the book and if you don’t just read the book anyway or alternatively find the TEDx talk. In case you wondered nobody is paying me to write this I was just really blown away by her thoughts. Next stop Understanding Power by Noam Chomsky – I promise not to write about this one