Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Biafran author who grew up in Enugu and meanwhile calls both Nigeria and the U.S. her home. Her writings have received several awards, nominations and other recognitions and she is seen as one of the most important figures in today’s African literature. Besides imperialism and the African civil war, Adichie also writes about and gives talks on “the epidemic of men killing women” and what feminism means to her. In her TED talk and now-book, titled We should all be feminists, she explains why it’s important to include men in feminism and why this movement doesn’t just help women.
When discussing feminism, a lot of people accuse it to be misandrist and especially men complain that they feel like they “cannot approach women anymore” because everything they do is called creepy or inappropriate. Although this should perhaps make them rethink their behaviour towards women and women-perceiving people, the first thing that should be cleared up here is that first, feminism, especially radical intersectional feminism, is not supposed to be exclusive. Everyone is affected by misogyny and the patriarchy, including men. Anyways, the so-called misandry that people like to call out is an answer towards misogyny, a protecting and coping mechanism.
Misogyny is deeply rooted in everyone, as we are raised according to these standards. From the start, male entitlement over the female body is taught to boys. This also applies to sex education. In an interview, Adichie says that boys are told that they receive sex through coercion, deception and force – that they are entitled to the female body. In contrast, female pleasure and consent is never celebrated, which leads to a hypocritical and distorted attitude towards sex, by girls and boys. However, boys also suffer under the currently constructed masculinity. Right now, boys should be ashamed of weakness, specifically of showing female-perceived characteristics. But what if we teach them to be ashamed of other things? Like being dishonest, or starting fights? Let boys cry, let them talk about their emotions. If we constantly use the “boys will be boys”-excuse, there will never be true change.
Since misogyny and patriarchy is the current default, we grow up with it, it is indeed all men that hold a certain amount of sexism as do women. Therefore, we all need to unlearn it so that a non-misogynistic society becomes the new norm without the patriarchy getting handed on and on to the following generations. To change this mindset, we need to talk about it, create stories and transparency. That is why including everyone in feminism is important. Everyone needs to be liberated. Men have to learn that they don’t have to dominate others to be “manly”. They should not aspire to force their wishes onto others and oppress others but to collaborate with and support others. Besides male idols, they should also learn to look up to women. That way, women are not seen as objects that can be used but valuable people that can also be leaders and equals. When we achieve this, feminism becomes redundant, and as Adichie says, that should be the ultimate goal.