We Should All Be Feminists
The problem with gender, is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are.
By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
In 2003, I wrote a novel called Purple Hibiscus, about a man who, among other things, beats his wife, and whose story doesn’t end too well. While I was promoting the novel in Nigeria, a journalist, a nice, well-meaning man, told me he wanted to advise me. (Nigerians, as you might know, are very quick to give unsolicited advice.) He told me that people were saying my novel was feminist, and his advice to me – he was shaking his head sadly as he spoke – was that I should never call myself a feminist, since feminists are women who are unhappy because they cannot find husbands.
 奇玛曼达·恩戈兹·阿迪契，尼日利亚著名女作家，生于1977年，伊博族。2004年，她的处女作《紫木槿》（Purple Hibiscus，2003）获得英联邦作家奖（Commonwealth Writers’ Prize）；2007年，她的《半轮黄日》（Half of a Yellow Sun，2006）获得橘子奖（Orange Prize，颁奖对象为女性作家创作的英语小说）。本文节选自她2014年发表的TED演讲。
 unsolicited 未经要求的；自发的。
So I decided to call myself a Happy Feminist. Then an academic, a Nigerian woman, told me that feminism was not our culture, that feminism was un- African. So I decided I would now call myself a Happy African Feminist. Then a dear friend told me that calling myself a feminist meant that I hated men. So I decided I would now be a Happy African Feminist Who Does Not Hate Men. At some point I was a Happy African Feminist Who Does Not Hate Men And Who Likes To Wear Lip Gloss And High Heels For Herself And Not For Men.
Now here’s a story from my childhood. When I was in primary school, my teacher said at the beginning of term that she would give the class a test and whoever got the highest score would be the class monitor. Class monitor was a big deal. If you were a class monitor, you got to write down the names of noisemakers.
 a big deal 重要的事。
But my teacher would also give you a cane to hold in your hand while you walk around and patrol the class for noisemakers. Of course you were not actually allowed to use the cane. But it was an exciting prospect for the nine-year-old me. I very much wanted to be the class monitor. And I got the highest score on the test. Then, to my surprise, my teacher said that the monitor had to be a boy.
A boy had the second highest score on the test, and he would be monitor. Now, what was even more interesting about this is that the boy was a sweet, gentle soul who had no interest in patrolling the class with the cane, while I was full of ambition to do so. But I was female and he was male, and so he became the class monitor. And I’ve never forgotten that incident.
 soul 某种人；人。
Some men feel threatened by the idea of feminism. Other men might respond by saying, “Okay, this is interesting, but I don’t think like that. I don’t even think about gender.”
And that is part of the problem. That many men do not actively think about gender or notice gender. If you are a man and you walk into a restaurant with a woman and the waiter greets only you, does it occur to you to ask the waiter, “Why have you not greeted her?” Men need to speak out in all of these ostensibly small situations.
 ostensibly 表面上。
Gender matters everywhere in the world. It is time we should begin to dream about and plan for a different world. A fairer world. A world of hap pier men and happier women who are truer to themselves. And this is how to start: we must raise our daughters differently. We must also raise our sons differently.
We do a great disservice to boys in how we raise them. We stifle the humanity of boys. We define masculinity in a very narrow way. Masculinity becomes 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, because they have to be, in Nigerian-speak – a hard man.
In secondary school, a boy and a girl go out, both of them teenagers with the same amount of pocket money, would go out and then the boy would be expected always to pay, to prove his masculinity. And yet we wonder why boys are more likely to steal money from their parents.
What if both boys and girls were raised not to link masculinity and money? What if their attitude was not “the boy has to pay,” but rather, “whoever has more should pay.” Of course, because of their historical advantage, it is mostly men who will have more today. But if we start raising children differently, then in fifty years, in a hundred years, boys will no longer have the pressure of proving their masculinity by material means.
But 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. We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller.
We say to girls: You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful but not too successful, otherwise you will threaten the man. If you are the breadwinner in your relationship with a man, pretend that you are not, especially in public, otherwise you will emasculate him.
 emasculate 使（男人）柔弱；使无男子气概。
But what if we question the premise itself? Why should a woman’s success be a threat to a man? What if we decide to simply dispose of that word, and I don’t think there’s an English word I dislike more than “emasculation.”
Boys and girls are undeniably different biologically, but socialization exaggerates the differences and then it becomes a self-fulfilling process. What if in raising children we focus on ability instead of gender? What if in raising children we focus on interest instead of gender?
Some people will say a woman is subordinate to men because it’s our culture. But culture is constantly changing. I have beautiful twin nieces who are 15. If they had been born a hundred years ago, they would have been taken away and killed. Because a hundred years ago, Igbo culture considered the birth of twins to be an evil omen. Today that practice is unimaginable to all Igbo people.
Culture does not make people. People make culture. If it is true that the full humanity of women is not our culture, then we can and must make it our culture.
My great-grandmother, from stories I’ve heard, was a feminist. She ran away from the house of the man she did not want to marry and married the man of her choice. She refused, protested, spoke up whenever she felt she was being deprived of land and access because she was female. She did not know that word feminist. But it doesn’t mean she wasn’t one. My own definition of a feminist is a man or a woman who says, “Yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better.”
All of us, women and men, must do better.