Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie gave a speech at the 2018 Hubspot’s annual Inbound Conference, where she was one of the keynote speakers. With her great storytelling skills, she ignites a global conversation about racism, identity, patriarchy and its effects on both women and men and her belief that stories can change the world.
On the effects of patriarchy
Masculinity is a small tight ugly cage. We should break up that cage and then rebuild it. We trap male human beings in that cage. Both men and women suffer from the illnesses that lead to suicide but it is men that have much higher rate of dying by suicide. Why? Because men are socialized to suppress so many human parts of themselves, men are socialized to see asking for help as a weakness instead of the strength that it actually is, men are socialized to be afraid of fear, men are socialized not to show vulnerability. And so, from the moment we tell a little boy that ‘boys don’t cry’ or we tell a hurting teenager to ‘man up,’ we are creating an adult man who will be cheated of the full range of his human emotions. And so, while men benefit from patriarchy, the truth is that, they also suffer from it. And we can tell a different story about this. We can remake masculinity.
On gender roles
There is nothing that a woman should be because she is a woman, and there is nothing that a man should be because he is a man…Women are not special, women are human, women are flawed just like men… If we keep saying women are special, then we judge them at a higher and unfair standard.
On anger and the black woman
Anger is a valid human emotion and women are judged very harshly for showing anger. In this country, it is terrible for white women to show anger and it is catastrophic for black women to show anger because the stereotype of the angry black woman is one that is impossible to shrug off once it has been pinned on you. It will follow you your entire life and it will prevent you from the opportunities that you deserve. I know many accomplished women of all races who have held themselves back in many situations because they don’t want to be considered angry or difficult; they don’t want to be called ‘the bitch’.
Watch her speak here