A groundbreaking work of feminism this is not, nor is its intent to be one. If you are looking for an academic treatise that delves into the strata of privilege and oppression which plague our society then you are looking in the wrong place. There is no name-checking here, nor are there references or footnotes. Is that ok? Yes it is. Instead of relying on theory and alienating jargon, Adichie is intent on crafting something a bit more relatable. Akin to the children’s books that depict very adult topics in ways that render them comprehensible to younger minds the author takes a word that recently has become synonymous with everything to blame for the world and makes it more approachable for the uninitiated.
Her use of folklore and personal stories peppered throughout this work are its true strength. This is at once a reflection on Adichie’s own approach to feminism, an observation of the status of women (specifically in the African continent), and an invitation to partake in the movement.
This is all not to say that the work is free of problematic reasoning. Sometimes Adichie tends to be overly defensive in her feminist stance (perhaps in order to silence anyone who may attack her as being in any way associated with the many stereotypes that plague anyone who dares call themselves a feminist). She states that she likes to be girlie, that she regrets wearing a pantsuit once to a class she was about to teach instead of the skirt that reflected who she really was. Either she is pandering, or her own definitions of what it should mean to be a feminist need to still keep being broadened and must keep evolving.
Feminism, to quote bell hooks, is for everybody and we should all be feminists, because to be a feminist is to realize not that women are better, but especially that they aren’t and never have been ‘less-than’ either.