Book: Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions

I bought Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions (Amazon) by accident trying to buy We Should All Be Feminists, but I have no regrets because I loved it, found myself reading it going yes yes yes and so what follows is not a review so much as a strong endorsement that you should really read it, too, and a collection of quotes that stood out, emphasis mine.

Feminist premise: I matter. I matter equally.

“That absurd idea of ‘men will be men,’ which means having a much lower standard for men.”

“Be a full person. Motherhood is a glorious gift, but do not define yourself solely by motherhood. Be a full person. Your child will benefit from that.”

“Everyone will have an opinion about what you should do, but what matters is what you want for yourself, and not what others want you to want.”

“If we stopped conditioning women to see marriage as a prize, then we would have fewer debates about a wife needing to cook in order to earn that prize.”

“Please see Chizalum as an individual. Not as a girl who should be a certain way. See her weaknesses and her strengths in an individual way. Do not measure her on a scale of what a girl should be. Measure her on a scale of being the best version of herself.”

“Gender roles are so deeply conditioned in us that we will often follow them even when they chafe against our true desires, our needs, our happiness. They are very difficult to unlearn, and so it is important to try and make sure Chizalum rejects them from the beginning.”

“But here is a sad truth: Our world is full of men and women who do not like powerful women. We have been so conditioned to think of power as male that a powerful woman is an aberration. And so she is policed. We ask of powerful women: Is she humble? Is she grateful enough? Does she have a domestic side? Questions we do not ask of powerful men, which shows that our discomfort is not with power itself, but with women. We judge powerful women more harshly than we judge powerful men.”

“We condition girls to aspire to marriage and we do not condition boys to aspire to marriage, and so there is already a terrible imbalance at the start. The girls will grow up to be women preoccupied with marriage. The boys will grow up to be men who are not preoccupied with marriage. The women marry these men. The relationship is automatically uneven because the institution matters more to one than the other. Is it any wonder that, in so many marriages, women sacrifice more, at a loss to themselves, because they have to constantly maintain an uneven exchange?

“In every culture in the world, female sexuality is about shame. Even cultures that expect women to be sexy—like many in the West—still do not expect them to be sexual.”

Teach her that to love is not only to give but also to take. This is important because we give girls subtle cues about their lives—we teach girls that a large component of their ability to love is their ability to sacrifice their selves. We do not teach this to boys. Teach her that to love she must give of herself emotionally but she must also expect to be given.