Feminism is asking yourself how you can change the world
On the first night of the 21st edition of Festivaletteratura, a large crowd gathered at Palazzo Ducale to see one of this year's most anticipated events. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian author who grew in prominence following a TED Talk she gave entitled "We Should All Be Feminists" for which Adichie decided to "just tell the truth" of how she felt, and was greatly surprised by the response she received. This triumph brought a certain level of expectation and responsibility for the writer, who saw it morally imperative to talk about feminism in today's society.
Michela Murgia began the interview by discussing Adichie's 2013 novel Americanah, a story about a Nigerian woman discovering race in the United States, something Adichie herself experienced upon moving to America. Being faced with expectations of beauty and with growing awareness of her own Eurocentric beauty standards, Adichie upended the politics of beauty by expressing her true Nigerian identity and rejecting the American aesthetic forced upon her. Adichie explains that by only removing the limits of beauty can we create a more inclusive society and break down the narrow image created by the media.
Murgia affirmed that Adichie has helped to make feminism more mainstream by removing the stigma around the word and allowing more women to identify with true feminism. Adichie aims to communicate a deeper and more textured style of feminism than the previous, daunting notion of theoretical feminism. By speaking truthfully and in an easy, accessible way, Adichie says one can teach people what they already knew and hereby give them a voice to change the structure of gender and identity, something she says will benefit both sexes.
As Murgia points out, there are, of course, those who contest the necessity of feminism and ask the question "why not just human rights?” According to Adichie, "we must name the problem before we can fix it", rather than closing the conversation and denying the injustice that exists. Adichie however addresses the need for action on other inequalities, saying "I wish we could create a world where difference is simply difference and not better or worse".
As the interview wraps up, Murgia can't help but ask one more political question, this time about how it is to be a black, non-American woman in an America led by Donald Trump. "It's like a bad, bad dream", she responds, “which is not only dangerous to black people, but also to white people. It is creating a world simmering with rage.”