Book Review: Dear Ijeawele or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions(#1/30)

THIS LITTLE BOOK IS FUEGO!

I did not intend that this would be my first read for 2019 but to say it blew my mind away (so much so that this is an onion typing this blog post right now) would be an understatement. Like. Wow.

If you cannot stomach the ideal concept of feminism (not the random, silly ideas being propounded by ignorant persons on social media or the ones being propagated by feminism extremists about cooking in the kitchen or pounding yam or fixing a car tire), then I suggest you stop reading. You know what? I actually suggest you keep reading…why not actually have an open mind into this seemingly dangerous word because that is basically what this book is about.

You’re still reading? Okay great.

So the book is actually a response letter Chimamanda wrote to her friend who sought her advice on raising her (the friend’s) daughter as a feminist…of course with some edits. Chimamanda is presumed to be an expert authority on the feminism topic so I guess that’s why she was consulted by her friend.

These two are must-reads but I’m only sharing my thoughts on “Dear Ijeawele”

While she may be considered a somewhat expert in the field of feminism, I would conclude from this read that some of Chimamanda’s views, in my opinion, are somewhat far-stretched.

That being said, it is safe to say that the book was thoroughly thought-provoking. All through, I would read certain paragraphs that would make me cringe internally as I tried to reconcile their truth with my mind’s subconscious and desperate clutch at what I have been conditioned to believe all my life as a female.

It is a tough one to chew on you know? Having to face a truth that goes against everything you have ever thought and desperately cling on to. I guess this is why Chimamanda is loathed by a lot of women… and men as well, globally. Yes, loathed.

So, yeah, I agreed with some parts…most of it actually…but some other parts, I was like…nehhh.

For example, Ahn ahn, aunty Chimmy, na wa. I disagreed with this statement to a large extent. Chivalry originally had nothing to do with women. Rather, the Age of Chivalry, which is commonly thought dead by most people (hence the common saying “chivalry is not dead after all”), promulgated certain ideals such as a soldier’s ethos, knightly piety, and courtly manners (emphasis on courtly manners) all conspire to establish a notion of honour and nobility. Even with its evolution in the 20th century, chivalry was never premised upon female weakness and to expressly state the contrary as has done by Chimamanda would, in my opinion negatively stretch the ideals of chivalry to an end that was never contemplated, just by wanting to show courteous manners or simply being nice and polite.

And this is a good time to birefly give my take on her “opening the door for a woman connotes that she is weak” talk. I personally do not think there is anything wrong with a man opening a door for a lady or anyone at all neither do I feel weak when I allow a man do that for me. I am pretty sure the average man does not go around thinking in his head “oh let me get that door for her, poor weak thing”. It’s more about being courteous or just simply being doing something nice for another person.

“The etymology of the word “chivalry” has become as lost and confused as “feminism,” and perhaps this is why the two seem to be perpetually at odds with one another. But at its core, chivalry can be described as the intersection of ideal knightly qualities, including but not limited to courtesy, generosity, valor and of course, an ability to take up arms. While not all of these characteristics are as applicable today as they were in days of yore, these are the same basic principles that should guide all human behaviour, regardless of gender.” ~ Emma Watson

Sooooo….funny enough, a few years ago, I would have aligned myself with Chimamanda on this point, but in the past couple of years, I have come to realize that while it is very much on point to teach the girl child that marriage is not the ultimate goal in life, nor is it the ultimate achievement or all a girl should aspire to be, it is okay for anyone to aspire to anything they want. I have met some women who aspire to be amazing wives and mothers to children. That is what they truly want. And you know what? If getting married is an achievement for them, then so be it. My thought on this is: allow people be what they want, aspire to what they want to or just set whatever they want to as achievements. A

Hahahaha. I can totally relate to this. Growing up, I was in love with trains and trucks. I never owned a barbie doll. My sister did but I was never interested in any of them. I was what society has termed a “tom-boy”. I would go out and play football with the boys getting dirty and rolling up and down in the sand. Or I would play football in the house, break something and immediately go to lay down peacefully beside my obedient peaceful sleeping sister and wish that in that moment, I was her. Then I would weep silently at the doom that was to come.

I had one pair of brown kito sandals that I was madly obsessed with and could not understand why I had to wear dresses to church or sit with my legs closed because I was a girl. Oh, how I wished I was a boy! For the longest time, I struggled with the idea that I was a girl.

I cannot count how many times I get asked “You watch football?” Or “You watch sports?” or “You play game?”which is always followed up with a “Oh, your boyfriend likes sports, that’s why right?” as if it is almost impossible that a female might actually be interested in sports. Like sports is not for human beings in general. Oh well, societal conditioning. Some ladies even go “Why should I watch football? Do I look like a man?” And I’m like….Again, societal conditioning.

Even the pink is for girls, blue is for boys…who came up with that though?

So yeah, while I respectfully and strongly disagree with some of Chimamanda’s views as expressed in the book, I can conclude that I loved the book to a very large extent. It is eye-opening, thought provoking and simply an interesting read. One can tell that Chimamanda’s mind is truly revolutionary, fresh and very much a force to be reckoned with.

I would recommend this to anyone anyday.

Overall score: 8/10

P.S. Feminism is basically an ideal that propounds the social, economic personal and political equality of sexes. This includes seeking to establish educational and professional opportunities for women that are equal to those for men. (Just in case you’re one of those that say “feminist but you cannot change a car tyre by yourself” or “feminist, but you are coming home to cook in the kitchen” or “feminist, but you expect him to pay for the dinner even though he asked you out” ) Lol, mahn!

P.S.S You do not have to take everything that a person says. You can actually welcome ideas with an open and willing mind, filtering the information by certain factors only you resonate with. Sometimes, we get tempted to shut everything out that a person says or expresses because it’s not something we ordinarily resonate with. We need to learn to be open to hearing other people’s views sometimes.

Feminism is not meant to be a barrier to either gender. Rather, it is meant to establish a sense of mutual understanding and respect that will allow for the entirety of humanity to operate at its best. Inequality of the sexes is not only a woman’s issue because it hurts men the world over as well. Our economy, our infrastructure, our very livelihoods suffer when men and women are not afforded the same opportunities. ~ Emma Watson

Who has read? What did you think of the book? Let me hear your thoughts in the comments!!

8 thoughts on “Book Review: Dear Ijeawele or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions(#1/30)

  1. Awesome review! Yeah I really like this book. I actuallu first read it on Bella Naija back in the day then few years later saw that she published it lol. I wonder if it’s still up there..🤔 Anyway, the piece really made me think twice about the way I think. I totally agree with you on the points about choice – feminism is all about the woman having the choice to do whatever she wants. But, I think sometimes, our choices can be influenced on society’s “choice for us”, if you may. So I think what Chimamanda is doing is challenging those society-influenced choices and trying to tell women that hey! You can do that but you don’t have to…I could talk about this forever 😅 Awesome review and post as always!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t read the book. But I have read this review a total of five times, with a smile on my face!

    I actually learned something new about the Etymology of Chivalry as an idea/ideal. Thank you for this!

    Always impactful!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I haven’t read it but this review has given me good insight. Although it wasn’t initially part of my first 3 to read this year, I’m eager to make it my next (third) one lol.

    Thank you for the review! xx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. They were my first reads for 2019 toooo! 😊 I enjoyed reading your post. I love your take on it & you opened my eyes to the similar misunderstanding that “chivalry” as a word & way of life goes through. Thanks for that.
    I just think that it isn’t acted upon with the same premise & intention as it was in the days of yore. It’s different now. They’ve mucked it & changed it around such that they believe & act it out on a premise of female weakness. So much so that they feel they DESERVE gratitude for it, or else… So if some do it, it needed to be stated in the book. Which she did.
    Also, you came across as though the author implied that a woman cannot aspire to marriage. I don’t agree with that. She can do and want whatever she wants, but in a world & society like ours where it’s hammered upon as a compulsory achievement, one less (very vital) person not doing that to their daughter is a blessing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts! Yeah, I totally agree with you on that last part anyway. A woman can do what she wants and yes the pressure on women nowadays is just too real! And yes, chivalry is definitely not acted on as it was before. My own little take on that is…I guess it doesn’t change what “chivalry” is because a lot of people have turned it around. Perhaps we have to give what is being done a new name? Haha. Just thinking out loud.

      Like

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