We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie [Book Summary]

The last century has witnessed Roe V. Wade claiming feminist accomplishments that favor the legitimacy of women’s living conditions and their rights to vote, have a miscarriage and promote their salaries to men’s. Doing so made people think that such achievements have finally got its fruits and feminism shall end. 

Yet, feminism remains in demand. This is because of the gender inequality which we’re still suffering in the community – which will be illustrated herewith – despite the contemporary developments. We still see men having the upper hand while women don’t get the chance to be a match for them in power. Chimamanda N. Adichie builds a justification here for embracing feminism, although she is fully aware of the regulations and partialities that contribute to this gape of fairness between men and women, and which she uses to overcome this hardship.

Buy this book from Amazon

Chapter 1 – Widespread misunderstanding going around the term “feminism” in many ways.

Have you ever been in a situation where you heard somebody say “feminism”? Can you describe the way others responded to it?

When people come across the notion “feminism”, they produce different responses with much negativity among them, just the same as to any ideological movement. Hostility and contempt are actually part of this negativity. 

Without realizing anything of the concept of feminism, Adichie went through it in her teenage years. At the age of fourteen, a very important friend to her parents and she had an intensive debate. And when it got more intense, he said that she was acting feminism at that moment which seemed like an accusation. 

Similar situations have followed her. One of them happened with the journalist Purple Hibiscus when he had her as a guested for a few questions about releasing her publication for the first time. He suggested to her to stop claiming herself a feminist.  

But what was his reason?

According to him, claiming feminism shows her as a sad woman green with envy who is in desperate need of a man. Such a situation she’s encountered like another when a Nigerian lady who was an academic said to her that feminism conflicts with the African culture and norms thinking of it as a kind of spoiling from the west.

Surprisingly, it is not only the feminist opponents who confront it. Even those who believe in gender equality think that men and women are, indeed, alike in rights and life, and, thus, no need for feminism. They see that every woman lived unjustly in the past, now she shares the man’s freedom in rights and choices.

A friend of Adichie is one example, who thinks all women now are treated free and just. He was unable to realize the issue of difference in which females are considered, not until he experienced it.

The two friends went out one evening to a restaurant and the person responsible for parking the cars took care of Adichie’s. When she handed him a tip, the boy turned to her friend and thanked him. Only then, Adichie’s friend understood the real situation of women.

Chapter 2 – Career is among other fields where gender discrimination appears the most.

Women now are enjoying being elected for the presidency and other positions in governments of many countries in the world by the law, in addition to any profession which wasn’t allowed for them before. Yet, this law couldn’t succeed in demolishing all kinds of unjust differentiation between men and women. 

The famous idiom “the glass ceiling” reveals exactly the issue of monopolizing high ranked careers and incomes in firms by men all the time.

The case is proved right also in careers that are supposed to be for females such as cooking, teaching, and artworks. The same goes for high job posts like university rector and general director which if been occupied by a woman, it would have been odd and nothing more.

You can see this contradiction in interest in the men’s salaries compared to women as it is there in every career. In a profession, men employees’ wage rate exceeded women employees’ by 21 percent in 2014. In numbers, it was one dollar for a man and 0.79 dollars for a woman.

Gender discrimination as in salaries isn’t hard to be noticed, thanks to statistics. And while in other forms and issues it keeps the same intensity, it is not that obvious. 

To demonstrate this, a lady friend of  Adichie was upgraded in her career post after this post had been occupied by a man. He was appreciated for his tough, specific and reliable manner at work. Once Adichie’s friend lectured a colleague for misbehaving – the same would’ve been done by her former, she was faced by critique for being harsh rather than appreciation. 

Another lady of the author’s contacts encountered an unlike the situation of such. During a work conference, she innovated an issue which was rejected at once. On the other hand, a male colleague raised the same issue and he was appreciated for it after wise. 

Therefore, those incidents illustrate the fact that women and men are received unlikely by others. Men receive appreciation and earn respect for their ideas, while critique and suppression are what women get – just for being women – after paying the same efforts that men do.

Chapter 3 – Women experience troubles on social and physical levels for being females.

Sadly, these reactions of differentiation that women face every day occur not only at careers, for women are still treated like less in degree subjects anywhere in the community. 

For instance, females lack the freedom to decide on how they live as in putting her professional life first and family in the second. Men, on the other side, haven’t been questioned for not having a family – if they choose not to – in a community where single ladies without kids are considered as a liability. Even when she gets married, a woman shall oppress her horizons to take care of her children.

Moreover, in terms of sexual life, men are usually proud of their capacities and freedom in having affairs out of marriage unquestionably. Yet, if a woman encountered one relationship before engagement, she would lose her reputation as an “innocent”, “pure” and “angelic”, in

a culture where secret relationships are forbidden for her. 

And she is always told to smile, obey and to act for the sake of her husband’s pleasure. She is raised on being obedient and beautiful because if she isn’t, men won’t look at her nor will she choose her. 

In many different communities around the globe, the whole notion of the women being created to fulfill their duties to men is deeply rooted. Nigerian woman, for instance, can’t step a foot inside a club without being escorted by her man, or else people will start to talk. 

The talk would ascend to accuse her of being a whore. In such cases, it’s women who hold responsibility for the shameful doing while men get away with their part of the game as who encouraged such doings. Likewise, preventing women from dressing in a way that reveals much of their bodies is to prevent men from abusing them sexually.

Chapter 4 – Differences between males and females exist but don’t justify gender discrimination.

Equality between women and men can’t be absolute as we can’t deny the differences between them. Nonetheless, such prominence differences don’t justify discrimination. 

Say, for one difference is the unique physical appearance and features for each of them. Such as women having women to carry children while men have sexual hormones. Body size and strength vary among both and men in advance. 

A long history, gender discrimination caused a serious variety in the missions of men and women. While hard jobs that require muscles handled by men, raising children is left to women. Furthermore, since the security of the community depended basically on men’s’ strength, they were in the society like the alpha male for the pack.

Yet, a community’s security and safety nowadays depend on many other approaches rather than men’s strength alone. Therefore, this physical feature of men – though it’s still there in comparison to women’s soft body –  is not part of the debate concerning gender discrimination, not anymore. 

If you look at international trade and commerce, you will find it based on qualities that are not limited to men nor women; innovation and being smart. Although our community has developed, the standards of women’s treatment and behavior have remained the same. Is there a reason for women to rebel and resist such standards to move on to their desires?

As mankind enjoys a dependent kind of personality, the changing nature of the community leads us to adopt new cultures, regulations, and hopes. For instance, in case higher and influential ranks are assigned to males every time, this would suggest a fixed pattern in filling such positions. 

One situation among many that are related to such regulations which Adichie recalls from early times was at her childhood. When she was in her third grade, the teacher decided for the student who gets the highest mark in a test to be the captain of the class.

Adichie wished badly for that position in class, so she studied hard to earn the required mark, and she did. Feeling happy that she will be announced the captain was crushed by the teacher when she took a boy, who preceded Adichie in his mark, to be the captain. The teacher took for granted that being a captain was for boys without bothering herself to look at Adichie’s mark.

Unlike now, assigning a traditional role to a man rather than a woman might be justified at that time. Today, regulations must be issued to consider the dreams and rights of women.

Chapter 5 – A change in culture is needed for a community where feminism emerges.

It’s no wonder that a certain development in the connections between men and women is in demand. If feminism is meant to emerge in a community, our awareness of thoughts and reactions must change.

Fighting the rooted masculinity, which females are urged to meet its regulation to earn its respect, is the urgent struggle that feminism has to face. And this is the only path for its existence. 

For incidence, our author recalls her struggle in deciding which outfit to choose; a suit or a skirt, for her first lecture to give. It occurred to her, at first, to choose the suit for a formal appearance and professional reception. That was the moment when she began to understand that she could be a worthy professional and a feminist at the same time.

When all women decide to make the same change, they should stop reconsidering themselves as women in the community. They should fight the common regulations of masculinity too.

It’s true that males face societal forces that shape their attitudes. They have to hide their pain and fear and to show toughness, yet, they hide their fragility, that everybody has inside, under this persona. And women are expected to go around men’s hidden fragilities to sustain their satisfaction. This means that women should remain shy and to suppress their real feelings.

For this relationship between men and women to be enhanced, unrestricted communication should be initiated to serve the manner in which gender matters shall be addressed. In a basic step, gender discrimination must be an open topic for the whole community members to understand and discuss.

First, it is required to unleash the awareness of gender matters that are suppressed. This is accomplished when people believe that they understand only gender equality, thus, they would suppose that they are not restrained by gender issues anymore. Despite that, taking sides remains there and such issues must be considered in depth.

Then, we must believe in change and that it’s real. Since social and cultural regulations witnessed a shift before, this shall happen once more. “It’s just our culture” won’t serve the case.

To illustrate that, Adichie mentions her nieces, who are a lovely twin. If they were born one century ago, their mother would have aborted them since twins were considered bad luck in the Nigerian Igbo norms. While today, twins are seen as amazing. And in centuries to come, people of the globe will see the current continuous inequality of gender such nonsense to endure. 

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Book Review

We shouldn’t think of feminism as a movement that intends to invade the globe. For it consists of activists of both genders who care about the sharp inequality that continues to exist between them even in the developed countries. More than any time, feminism is required if we think of building a community that treats women fairly before men.

A sufficient tip:

Question the regulations in your society.

If you ever see somebody find fault with a lady, just wonder about the possibility of addressing the same critique to a man. If you find it an efficient way towards a healthy and fruitful talk with those critics, lead the conversation for them to speak their opinions.

Buy this book from Amazon

Download Pdf


Download Epub



Savaş Ateş

I'm a software engineer. I like reading books and writing summaries. I like to play soccer too :) Good Reads Profile: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/106467014-sava-ate

Recent Posts