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Chimamanda Adichie “Feminism Is Not That Hot. I Can Tell You I Would Sell More Books In Nigeria If I Stopped And Said I’m No Longer A Feminist”




image: Stephen Voss for the Guardian

“No. Sorry. Feminism is not that hot. I can tell you I would sell more books in Nigeria if I stopped and said I’m no longer a feminist. I would have a stronger following, I would make more money. So when people say, ‘Oh, feminism’s a marketing ploy’, it makes me laugh.”

That was Chimamanda Adichie responding to ongoing accusations that she has made equality mainstream while speaking to the Guardian’s Emma Brockes.

In the long interview, Chimamanda talked about her take on feminism. Some excerpts below:

She taught a writing workshop last year in Lagos, which ended in with questions and answers. A young man asked her – “I used to love you, I’ve read all your books. But since you started this whole feminism thing, and since you started to talk about this gay thing, I’m just not sure about you any more. How do you intend to keep the love of people like me?” Her friends were furious at the cheekiness of the young man’s question, but she liked his bravery and his honesty in asking her that question.  Her response:

“Keep your love. Because, sadly, while I love to be loved, I will not accept your love if it comes with these conditions.”

image: Stephen Voss for the Guardian

On the notion that feminism has become so mainstream as to be an empty marketing tool, Chimamanda says:

“I’m already irritated. This idea of feminism as a party to which only a select few people get to come: this is why so many women, particularly women of colour, feel alienated from mainstream western academic feminism. Because, don’t we want it to be mainstream? For me, feminism is a movement for which the end goal is to make itself no longer needed. I think academic feminism is interesting in that it can give a language to things, but I’m not terribly interested in debating terms. I want people’s marriages to change for the better. I want women to walk into job interviews and be treated the same way as somebody who has a penis.”

“There’s a kind of self-righteousness to the ultra-left that is hard for me to stomach. Its approach to poverty can sometimes border on condescension. I often think that people who write a lot about poverty need to go and spend more time with poor people. I think about Nigerian women who can hardly afford anything but who love fashion. They have no money, but they work it.”

image: Stephen Voss for the Guardian

She continues:

“No. Sorry. Feminism is not that hot. I can tell you I would sell more books in Nigeria if I stopped and said I’m no longer a feminist. I would have a stronger following, I would make more money. So when people say, ‘Oh, feminism’s a marketing ploy’, it makes me laugh.”

“…Life doesn’t always follow ideology. You might believe in certain things and life gets in and things just become messy. You know? I think that’s the space that fiction, and having a bit more of an imaginative approach, makes. And that the feminist speaking circuit doesn’t really make room for.”

Read the complete interview here.
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