“It’s like saying the word ‘feminism’ is like saying that ‘all men should die.'”

Um, no. It’s actually not.

We’ve all encountered this argument against the “F word” before. But let us celebrate how deftly writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie shuts down this tired claim while simultaneously breaking down why Nigerian all men should become feminists too. In an interview with Swedish film critic Jannike Åhlund at the Göteborg International Film Festival this past Sunday, Adichie answers this man’s question and addresses his fear of the big bad word F E M I N I S M. (Sidenote: Check out minute 47 of the exchange to witness how expertly Adichie answers a rather clumsy and myopic question about the legacy of European colonialism in Africa because it’s exquisite.)

Transcript after the jump. 

MAN: Nine times out of ten if you ask us what’s the opposite of a feminist… They won’t say misogynist, they’ll say a chauvanist. It’s like building two armies against each other…There’s a resentment against the word Feminism. It’s not the fact we’re talking about women’s rights. That’s not why there’s a resentment. It’s like saying the word feminism is like saying that ‘all men should die.’


MAN: (inaudible)… confusing for Nigerian men…like men and women want war…

ADICHIE: Don’t we?


AHLUND: Should all men die, Chimamanda?

MAN: Feminism is like a weapon…

ADICHIE: …but that’s what I mean about taking the word back because it’s really not.

MAN: …Exactly…it’s not the idea…it’s that word. It’s scary.

ADICHIE: But we should also ask why the word is scary to men…

MAN: Yeah.

ADICHIE: Because people will often say why are you talking about feminism, why aren’t you talking about human rights. And yes, but we’re talking about because there is a group of people in the world who fought for centuries who have been systematically deprived of rights because they were women. So that’s why we talk about women…that’s why it has to be about women. Because those are the people whose rights have been taken away. And we can’t somehow pretend oh let’s talk about the human race and make things all wishy washy…no, it’s women, it has to be wom…it has to be feminism and you have to become one.


ADICHIE: So think about it.

H/T Vintage Anchor Books Tumblr

sm-bioSyreeta McFadden is a Feminist.

SYREETA MCFADDEN is a Brooklyn based writer, photographer and adjunct professor of English. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Guardian, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, Religion Dispatches and Storyscape Journal. She is the managing editor of the online literary magazine, Union Station, and a co-curator of Poets in Unexpected Places. You can follow her on Twitter @reetamac.

Syreeta McFadden is a contributing opinion writer for The Guardian US and an editor of Union Station Magazine.

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