52 Quotes of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie About Feminism

” Nobody just leaves medical school, especially given it’s fiercely competitive to get in. But I had a sister who was a doctor, another who was a pharmacist, a brother who was an engineer. So my parents already had sensible children who would be able to make an actual living, and I think they felt comfortable sacrificing their one strange child. “
” Some men feel threatened by the idea of feminism. This comes, I think, from the insecurity triggered by how boys are brought up, how their sense of self-worth is diminished if they are not ‘naturally’ in charge as men. “
” I am a person who believes in asking questions, in not conforming for the sake of conforming. I am deeply dissatisfied – about so many things, about injustice, about the way the world works – and in some ways, my dissatisfaction drives my storytelling. “
” I live half the year in Nigeria, the other half in the U.S. But home is Nigeria – it always will be. I consider myself a Nigerian who is comfortable in the world. I look at it through Nigerian eyes. “
” Girls are socialised in ways that are harmful to their sense of self – to reduce themselves, to cater to the egos of men, to think of their bodies as repositories of shame. As adult women, many struggle to overcome, to unlearn, much of that social conditioning. “
” ‘No Sweetness Here’ is the kind of old-fashioned social realism I have always been drawn to in fiction, and it does what I think all good literature should: It entertains you. “
” I look young. I heard this said so often that it became irritating. I once worked as a babysitter for a woman who, the first time we met, said she didn’t want somebody in high school. I was 22. Later, I realised that in certain places being female and looking ‘young’ meant it was more difficult to be taken seriously, so I turned to make-up. “
” Some people ask, ‘Why the word ‘feminist’? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?’ Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general – but to choose to use the vague expression ‘human rights’ is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. “
” For me, feminism is a movement for which the end goal is to make itself no longer needed. “
” Lasting love has to be built on mutual regard and respect. It is about seeing the other person. I am very interested in relationships and, when I watch couples, sometimes I can sense a blindness has set in. They have stopped seeing each other. It is not easy to see another person. “
” Non-fiction, and in particular the literary memoir, the stylised recollection of personal experience, is often as much about character and story and emotion as fiction is. “
” I think people are frightened of saying what they think, and I think that’s a bad thing for society. “
” I am a bit of a fundamentalist when it comes to black women’s hair. Hair is hair – yet also about larger questions: self-acceptance, insecurity and what the world tells you is beautiful. For many black women, the idea of wearing their hair naturally is unbearable. “
” Because gender can be uncomfortable, there are easy ways to close this conversation. Some people will bring up evolutionary biology and apes, how female apes bow to male apes – that sort of thing. But the point is this: we are not apes. Apes also live in trees and eat earthworms. We do not. “
” I often think that people who write a lot about poverty need to go and spend more time with poor people. “
” Evil is tolerable if purged of coarseness. “
” Gender is not an easy conversation to have. It makes people uncomfortable, sometimes even irritable. Both men and women are resistant to talk about gender or are quick to dismiss the problems of gender. Because thinking of changing the status quo is always uncomfortable. “
” You know, I don’t think of myself as anything like a ‘global citizen’ or anything of the sort. I am just a Nigerian who’s comfortable in other places. “
” I think white women need to wake up and say, ‘Not all women are white,’ three times in front of the mirror. “
” Perhaps it is time to debate culture. The common story is that in ‘real’ African culture, before it was tainted by the West, gender roles were rigid and women were contentedly oppressed. “
” It is easy to romanticize poverty, to see poor people as inherently lacking agency and will. It is easy to strip them of human dignity, to reduce them to objects of pity. This has never been clearer than in the view of Africa from the American media, in which we are shown poverty and conflicts without any context. “
” I think I’m ridiculously fortunate. I consider myself a Nigerian – that’s home; my sensibility is Nigerian. But I like America, and I like that I can spend time in America. “
” I would come, many years later, to understand why ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ is considered ‘an important novel’, but when I first read it at 11, I was simply absorbed by the way it evoked the mysteries of childhood, of treasures discovered in trees, and games played with an exotic summer friend. “
” If I were not African, I wonder whether it would be clear to me that Africa is a place where the people do not need limp gifts of fish but sturdy fishing rods and fair access to the pond. I wonder whether I would realize that while African nations have a failure of leadership, they also have dynamic people with agency and voices. “
” I think it’s possible to have been a happy child, as I was, and still question and push back with regard to societal conventions. “
” I’ve always been curious about how much of our cultural baggage we bring to what and how we read. I suspect we bring a lot, although we like to think we don’t. “
” To return to the books of my childhood is to yield to the strain of nostalgia that is curious about the self I once was. “
” In primary school in south-eastern Nigeria, I was taught that Hosni Mubarak was the president of Egypt. I learned the same thing in secondary school. In university, Mubarak was still president of Egypt. I came to assume, subconsciously, that he – and others like Paul Biya in Cameroon and Muammar Gaddafi in Libya – would never leave. “
” Sometimes novels are considered ‘important’ in the way medicine is – they taste terrible and are difficult to get down your throat, but are good for you. “
” I must have been an annoying child. “
” From the very beginning, I think it’s been quite clear that there’s no way I could possibly say that trans women are not women. It’s the sort of thing to me that’s obvious, so I start from that obvious premise. “
” I think that because human difference for so long, in all its various forms, has been the root of so much oppression, sometimes there’s the impulse to say let’s deny the difference, as though by wishing away the difference we can then wish away the oppression. “
” I like the U.S. and feel gratitude towards it. “
” In particular I want to talk about natural black hair, and how it’s not just hair. I mean, I’m interested in hair in sort of a very aesthetic way, just the beauty of hair, but also in a political way: what it says, what it means. “
” I can write with authority only about what I know well, which means that I end up using surface details of my own life in my fiction. “
” Each of my novels has come from a different place, and the processes are not always entirely conscious. I have lived off and on in America for a number of years and so have accumulated observations, found things interesting, been moved to tell stories about them. “
” My greatest vanity is my skin. It is the colour of gingerbread and, thanks to my mother’s genes, smooth and mostly blemish-free. “
” I have my father’s lopsided mouth. When I smile, my lips slope to one side. My doctor sister calls it my cerebral palsy mouth. I am very much a daddy’s girl, and even though I would rather my smile wasn’t crooked, there is something moving for me about having a mouth exactly like my father’s. “
” The problem with looking in the mirror is that you never know how you will feel about what you see. Sometimes, when my hormones are out of sync, I have no interest in the mirror, and if I do look I think everything is all wrong. Other times, I am quite pleased with what I see. “
” Americans think African writers will write about the exotic, about wildlife, poverty, maybe AIDS. They come to Africa and African books with certain expectations. “
” What I find problematic is the suggestion that when, say, Madonna adopts an African child, she is saving Africa. It’s not that simple. You have to do more than go there and adopt a child or show us pictures of children with flies in their eyes. That simplifies Africa. “
” If you followed the media you’d think that everybody in Africa was starving to death, and that’s not the case; so it’s important to engage with the other Africa. “
” Creative writing programmes are not very necessary. They just exist so that people like us can make a living. “
” I have been writing since I was old enough to spell. I have never considered not writing. “
” I divide my time between Columbia, Maryland, and Lagos, Nigeria. “
” I am drawn, as a reader, to detail-drenched stories about human lives affected as much by the internal as by the external, the kind of fiction that Jane Smiley nicely describes as ‘first and foremost about how individuals fit, or don’t fit, into their social worlds.’ “
” I write from real life. I am an unrepentant eavesdropper and a collector of stories. I record bits of overheard dialogue. “
” I ask questions. I watch the world. And what I have discovered is that the parts of my fiction that people most tell me are ‘unbelievable’ are those that are most closely based on the real, those least diluted by my imagination. “
” The best novels are those that are important without being like medicine; they have something to say, are expansive and intelligent but never forget to be entertaining and to have character and emotion at their centre. “
” Nigerian politics has been, since the military dictatorships, largely non-ideological. Rather than a battle of ideas, it is about who can pump in the most money and buy the most access. “
” There has always been a strange dissonance between the public and the private in Nigeria. “
” Successful fiction does not need to be validated by ‘real life’; I cringe whenever a writer is asked how much of a novel is ‘real’. “