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We should all be feminists - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at TEDxEuston

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    My brother Chuks and my best friend
    Ike are part of the organizing team,
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    so when they ask me to come,
    I couldn't say no.
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    But I'm so happy to be here.
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    What a fantastic team of people
    who care about Africa
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    I feel so humble and so happy to be here.
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    And I'm also told that the most beautiful,
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    most amazing little girl in the world
    is in the audience
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    her name is Kamzia Adichie
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    and I want her to stand up...
    she's my niece!
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    (Applause)
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    So, I would like to start by telling you
    one of my greatest friend, Okuloma.
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    Okuloma lived on my street
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    and looked after me like a big brother.
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    If I liked a boy, I would ask
    Okuloma's opinion.
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    Okuloma died in the notorious
    Sosoliso Plane Crash
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    in Nigeria in December of 2005.
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    Almost exactly seven years ago.
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    Okuloma was a person I could argue with,
    laugh with, and truly talk to.
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    He was also the first person
    to call me a feminist.
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    I was about fourteen,
    we were at his house, arguing.
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    Both of us bristling with
    half bit knowledge from books we had read.
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    I don't remember what this
    particular argument was about,
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    but I remember that
    as I argued and argued,
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    Okuloma looked at me and said,
    "You know, you're a feminist."
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    It was not a compliment.
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    I could tell from his tone, the same tone
    that you would use to say something like
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    "You're a supporter of terrorism."
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    (Laughter)
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    I did not know exactly what this word
    "feminist" meant,
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    and I did not want Okuloma
    to know that I did not know,
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    so I brushed it aside
    and I continued to argue.
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    And the first thing I planned to do
    when I got home
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    was to look up the word
    "feminist" in the dictionary.
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    Now fast forward to some years later,
    I wrote a novel
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    about a man who among other things
    beats his wife
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    and whose story doesn't end very well.
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    While I was promoting the novel
    in Nigeria,
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    a journalist, a nice well-meaning man,
    told me he wanted to advise me.
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    And for the Nigerians here,
    I'm sure we're all familiar with
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    how quick our people are to give
    unsolicited advice.
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    He told me that people were saying
    that my novel was feminist
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    and his advice to me --
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    and he was shaking his head sadly
    as he spoke --
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    was that I should never
    call myself a feminist because
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    feminists are women who are unhappy
    because they cannot find husbands.
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    (Laughter)
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    So I decided to call myself
    "a happy feminist."
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    Then an academic, a Nigerian woman
    told me
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    that feminism was not our culture
    and that feminism wasn't African,
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    and that I was calling myself a feminist
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    because I had been corrupted
    by "Western books."
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    Which amused me,
    because a lot of my early readings
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    were decidedly unfeminist.
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    I think I must have read every single
    Mills & Boon romance
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    published before I was sixteen.
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    And each time I tried to read those books
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    called "the feminist classics"
    I'd get bored
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    and I really struggled to finish them.
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    But anyway, since feminism was un-African,
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    I decided that I would now call myself
    "a happy African feminist."
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    At some point I was a happy
    African feminist who does not hate men
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    and who likes lip gloss
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    and who wears high-heels
    for herself but not for men.
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    Of course a lot of these
    was tongue-in-cheek,
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    but that were feminists so heavy
    with baggage, negative baggage.
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    You hate men, you hate bras,
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    you hate African culture,
    that sort of thing.
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    Now here's a story from my childhood.
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    When I was in primary school,
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    my teacher said at the beginning of term
    that she would give the class a test
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    and whoever got the highest score
    would be the class monitor.
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    Now, class monitor was a big deal.
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    If you were a class monitor,
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    you got to write down the names
    of noise makers,
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    which was having enough power of its own.
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    But my teacher would also give you
    a cane to hold in your hand
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    while you walk around and
    patrol the class for noise makers.
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    Now of course you're not
    actually allowed to use the cane.
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    But it was an exciting prospect
    for the nine-year-old me.
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    I very much wanted to be
    the class monitor.
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    And I got the highest score on the test.
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    Then, to my surprise, my teacher said that
    the monitor had to be a boy.
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    She've forgotten to make that clear earlier
    because she assumed it was... obvious.
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    (Laughter)
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    A boy had the second highest
    score on the test
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    and he would be monitor.
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    Now what was even more
    interesting about this
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    is that the boy was a sweet, gentle soul
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    who had no interest in patrolling
    the class with the cane,
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    while I was full of ambition to do so.
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    But I was female, and he was male
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    and so he became the class monitor.
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    And I've never forgotten that incident.
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    I often make the mistake of thinking that
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    something that is obvious to me
    is just as obvious to everyone else.
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    Now, take my dear friend Louis
    for example.
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    Louis is a brilliant, progressive man,
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    and we would have conversations
    and he would tell me,
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    "I don't know what you mean by things
    being different or harder for women.
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    Maybe in the past, but not now."
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    And I didn't understand how Louis
    could not see what seems so self-evident.
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    Then one evening, in Lagos,
    Louis and I went out with friends.
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    And for people here who
    are not familiar with Lagos,
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    there's that wonderful Lagos' fixture,
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    the sprinkling of energetic man
    who hung around outside establishments
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    and very dramatically "help" you
    park your car.
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    I was impressed with
    the particular theatrics
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    of the man who found us
    a parking spot that evening,
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    and so as we were leaving,
    I decided to leave him a tip.
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    I opened my bag,
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    put my hand inside my bag,
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    brought out my money that
    I had earned from doing my work,
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    and I gave it to the man.
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    And he,
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    this man who was very grateful,
    and very happy,
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    took the money from me,
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    looked across at Louis,
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    and said "Thank you, sir!"
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    (Laughter)
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    Louis looked at me, surprised, and asked
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    "Why is he thanking me?
    I didn't give him the money."
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    Then I saw realization
    dawned on Louis' face.
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    The man believed that
    whatever money I had
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    had ultimately come from Louis.
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    Because Louis is a man.
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    The men and women are different.
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    We have different hormones,
    we have different sexual organs,
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    we have different biological abilities,
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    women can have babies, men can't.
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    At least not yet.
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    Men have testosterone and are
    in general physically stronger than women.
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    There's slightly more women
    than men in the world,
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    about 52% of the world's population
    is female.
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    But most of the positions of power
    and prestige are occupied by men.
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    The late Kenyan Nobel Peace Laureate,
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    Wangari Maathai, put it simply
    and well when she said:
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    "The higher you go,
    the fewer women there are."
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    In the recent US elections we kept hearing
    of the Lilly Ledbetter law,
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    and if we go beyond the nicely
    alliterative name of that law,
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    it was really about a man and a woman
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    doing the same job being equally qualified
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    and the man being paid more
    because he's a man.
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    So in the literal way, men rule the world,
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    and this made sense a thousand years ago
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    because human beings lived then in a world
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    in which physical strength was
    the most important attribute for survival.
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    The physically stronger person
    was more likely to lead,
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    and men, in general,
    are physically stronger.
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    Of course there are many exceptions.
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    But today we live
    in a vastly different world.
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    The person more likely to lead
    is not the physically stronger person,
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    it is the more creative person,
    the more intelligent person,
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    the more innovative person,
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    and there are no hormones
    for those attributes.
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    A man is as likely as a woman
    to be intelligent,
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    to be creative, to be innovative.
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    We have evolved; but it seems to me
    that our ideas of gender had not evolved.
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    Some weeks ago I walked into a lobby
    of one of the best Nigerian hotels.
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    I thought about naming the hotel,
    but I thought I probably shouldn't,
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    and a guard at the entrance stopped me
    and ask me annoying questions,
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    because their automatic assumption is
    that a Nigerian female
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    walking into a hotel alone is a sex worker.
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    And by the way,
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    why do these hotels focus on
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    the ostensible supply rather than
    the demand for sex workers?
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    In Lagos I cannot go alone into
    many "reputable" bars and clubs.
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    They just don't let you in
    if you're a woman alone,
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    you have to be accompanied by a man.
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    Each time I walk into a
    Nigerian restaurant with a man,
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    the waiter greets the man and ignores me.
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    The waiters are products...
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    at this some women felt like
    "Yes! I thought that!"
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    The waiters are products of a society that
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    has taught them that men are
    more important than women.
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    And I know that waiters
    don't intend any harm.
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    But it's one thing to know intellectually
    and quite another to feel it emotionally.
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    Each time they ignore me,
    I feel invisible.
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    I feel upset.
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    I want to tell them I'm just as human
    as the man,
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    that I'm just as worthy
    of acknowledgement.
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    These are little things,
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    but sometimes it's the little things
    that sting the most.
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    And not long ago I wrote an article
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    about what it means to be
    young and female in Lagos,
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    and the printers told me
    "It was so angry."
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    Of course it was angry!
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    (Laughter)
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    I am angry.
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    Gender as it functions today
    is a grave injustice.
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    We should all be angry.
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    Anger has a long history of
    bringing about positive change;
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    but, in addition to being angry,
    I'm also hopeful.
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    Because I believe deeply
    in the ability of human beings
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    to make and remake themselves
    for the better.
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    Gender matters everywhere in the world,
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    but I want to focus on
    Nigeria and on Africa in general,
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    because it is where I know,
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    and because it is where my heart is.
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    And I would like today to ask
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    that we begin to dream about
    and plan for
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    a different world, a fairer world;
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    a world of happier men and happier women
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    who are truer to themselves.
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    And this is how to start:
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    we must raise our daughters differently.
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    We must also raise our sons differently.
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    We do a great disservice to boys
    on how we raise them;
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    we stifle the humanity of boys.
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    We define masculinity in a very narrow way,
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    masculinity becomes this hard, small cage
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    and we put boys inside the cage.
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    We teach boys to be afraid of fear.
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    We teach boys to be afraid
    of weakness, of vulnerability.
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    We teach them to mask their true selves,
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    because they have to be,
    in Nigerian speak, "hard man!"
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    In secondary school, a boy and a girl,
    both of them teenagers,
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    both of them with the same amount
    of pocket money,
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    would go out and then
    the boy would be expected always
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    to pay, to prove his masculinity.
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    And yet we wonder why boys
    are more likely to steal money
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    from their parents.
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    What if both boys and girls were raised
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    not to link masculinity with money?
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    What if the attitude was not
    "the boy has to pay"
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    but rather "whoever has more should pay"?
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    Now of course because of that
    historical advantage,
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    it is mostly men who will have more today,
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    but if we start raising children
    differently,
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    then in fifty years, in a hundred years,
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    boys will no longer have the pressure
    of having to prove this masculinity.
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    But by far the worst thing we do to males,
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    by making them feel
    that they have to be hard,
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    is that we leave them
    with very fragile egos.
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    The more "hard-man"
    the man feels compelled to be,
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    the weaker his ego is.
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    And then we do a much greater
    disservice to girls
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    because we raise them to cater
    to the fragile egos of men.
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    We teach girls to shrink themselves,
    to make themselves smaller,
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    we say to girls,
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    "You can have ambition,
    but not too much."
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    "You should aim to be successful,
    but not too successful,
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    otherwise you would threaten the man."
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    If you are the breadwinner
    in your relationship with a man,
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    you have to pretend that you're not,
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    especially in public, otherwise
    you will emasculate him.
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    But what if we question
    the premise itself,
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    why should a woman's success
    be a threat to a man?
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    What if we decide to simply dispose
    of that word,
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    and I don't think there's an English word
    I dislike more than "emasculation."
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    A Nigerian acquaintance once asked me
    if I was worried that
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    men would be intimidated by me.
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    I was not worried at all.
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    In fact it had not occurred to me
    to be worried because
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    a man who would be intimidated by me
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    is exactly the kind of man
    I would have no interest in.
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    (Laughter)
    (Applause)
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    But still I was really struck by this.
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    Because I'm female,
    I'm expected to aspire to marriage;
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    I'm expected to make my life choices
    always keeping in mind
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    that marriage is the most important.
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    A marriage can be a good thing;
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    it can be a source of joy
    and love and mutual support.
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    But why do we teach girls
    to aspire to marriage
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    and we don't teach boys the same?
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    I know a woman who decided
    to sell her house
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    because she didn't want to
    intimidate a man who might marry her.
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    I know an unmarried woman in Nigeria who,
    when she goes to conferences,
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    wears a wedding ring
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    because according to her, she wants
    the other participants in the conference
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    to "give her respect."
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    I know young women who are
    under so much pressure
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    from family, from friends,
    even from work to get married
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    and they're pushed
    to make terrible choices.
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    A woman at a certain age
    who is unmarried,
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    our society teaches her to see it
    as a deep, personal failure.
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    And a man at a certain age
    who is unmarried
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    we just think he hasn't come around
    to making his pick.
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    (Laughter)
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    It's easy for us to say,
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    "Oh but women can just say no
    to all of this",
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    But the reality is more difficult
    and more complex.
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    We're all social beings.
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    We internalize ideas
    from our socialization.
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    Even the language we use
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    in talking about marriage
    and relationships illustrates this.
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    The language of marriage
    is often the language of ownership
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    rather than the language of partnership.
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    We use the word "respect"
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    to mean something a woman shows a man
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    but often not something
    a man shows a woman.
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    Both men and women in Nigeria will say -
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    this is an expression I'm very amused by -
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    "I did it for peace in my marriage."
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    Now when men say it,
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    it is usually about something that
    they should not be doing anyway.
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    (Laughter)
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    Sometimes they say it to their friends,
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    it's something to say to their friends
    in a kind of fondly exasperated way,
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    you know, something that ultimately proves
    how masculine they are,
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    how needed, how loved --
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    "Oh my wife said I can't go to club
    every night,
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    so for peace in my marriage,
    I do it only on weekends."
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    (Laughter)
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    Now when a woman says,
    "I did it for peace in my marriage,"
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    she's usually talking about having
    giving up a job,
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    a dream,
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    a career.
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    We teach females that in relationships,
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    compromise is what women do.
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    We raise girls to see each other
    as competitors
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    not for job or for accomplishments,
    which I think could be a good thing,
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    but for attention of men.
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    We teach girls that they cannot be
    sexual beings
  • 16:49 - 16:51
    in the way that boys are.
  • 16:51 - 16:55
    If we have sons, we don't mind
    knowing about our sons' girlfriends.
  • 16:55 - 16:57
    But our daughters' boyfriends?
    God forbid.
  • 16:57 - 16:58
    (Laughter)
  • 16:58 - 17:00
    But of course when the time is right,
  • 17:00 - 17:04
    we expect those girls to bring back
    the perfect man to be their husbands.
  • 17:04 - 17:06
    We police girls,
  • 17:06 - 17:08
    we praise girls for virginity,
  • 17:08 - 17:10
    but we don't praise boys for virginity,
  • 17:10 - 17:13
    and it's always made me wonder
    how exactly this is supposed to work out
  • 17:13 - 17:16
    because...
    (Laughter)
  • 17:16 - 17:23
    (Applause)
  • 17:24 - 17:29
    I mean, the loss of virginity
    is usually a process that involves...
  • 17:29 - 17:31
    Recently a young woman
  • 17:31 - 17:33
    was gang raped in a University in Nigeria,
  • 17:33 - 17:35
    I think some of us know about that.
  • 17:35 - 17:37
    And the response of many young Nigerians,
  • 17:37 - 17:38
    both male and female,
  • 17:38 - 17:40
    was something along the lines of this:
  • 17:40 - 17:43
    "Yes, rape is wrong.
  • 17:43 - 17:47
    But what is a girl doing in a room
    with four boys?"
  • 17:47 - 17:52
    Now if we can forget
    the horrible inhumanity of that response,
  • 17:52 - 17:57
    these Nigerians have been raised
    to think of women as inherently guilty,
  • 17:58 - 18:01
    and have been raised to expect
    so little of men
  • 18:01 - 18:05
    that the idea of men as savage beings
    without any control
  • 18:05 - 18:06
    is somehow acceptable.
  • 18:06 - 18:09
    We teach girls shame.
  • 18:09 - 18:12
    "Close your legs",
    "Cover yourself".
  • 18:12 - 18:14
    We make them feel as though
    by being born female
  • 18:14 - 18:16
    they're already guilty of something.
  • 18:16 - 18:19
    And so, girls grow up to be women
  • 18:19 - 18:21
    who cannot see they have desire.
  • 18:21 - 18:24
    They grow up to be women
    who silence themselves.
  • 18:25 - 18:29
    They grow up to be women who
    cannot see what they truly think,
  • 18:29 - 18:30
    and they grow up -
  • 18:30 - 18:32
    and this is the worst thing
    we did to girls -
  • 18:32 - 18:37
    they grow up to be women
    who have turned pretense into an art form.
  • 18:37 - 18:43
    (Applause)
  • 18:43 - 18:46
    I know a woman who hates domestic work,
  • 18:46 - 18:47
    she just hates it,
  • 18:47 - 18:50
    but she pretends that she likes it,
  • 18:50 - 18:54
    because she's been taught that
    to be "good wife material"
  • 18:54 - 18:59
    she has to be -- to use that Nigerian word
    -- very "homely."
  • 19:00 - 19:01
    And then she got married,
  • 19:01 - 19:03
    and after a while her husband's family
  • 19:03 - 19:07
    began to complain
    that she had changed.
  • 19:07 - 19:08
    Actually she had not changed,
  • 19:08 - 19:10
    she just got tired of pretending.
  • 19:11 - 19:13
    The problem with gender,
  • 19:13 - 19:16
    is that it prescribes how we should be
  • 19:16 - 19:19
    rather than recognizing how we are.
  • 19:20 - 19:22
    Now imagine how much happier
    we would be,
  • 19:22 - 19:26
    how much freer to be
    our true individual selves,
  • 19:26 - 19:29
    if we didn't have the weight
    of gender expectations.
  • 19:29 - 19:34
    Boys and girls are undeniably
    different biologically,
  • 19:34 - 19:37
    but socialization exaggerates
    the differences
  • 19:37 - 19:40
    and then it becomes
    a self-fulfilling process.
  • 19:40 - 19:42
    Now take cooking for example.
  • 19:42 - 19:46
    Today women in general are more likely
    to do the house work than men,
  • 19:46 - 19:47
    the cooking and cleaning.
  • 19:47 - 19:49
    But why is that?
  • 19:49 - 19:52
    Is it because women are born
    with a cooking gene?
  • 19:52 - 19:53
    (Laughter)
  • 19:53 - 19:57
    Or because over years they have been
    socialized to see cooking as their rule?
  • 19:57 - 20:00
    Actually I was going to say that maybe
    women are born with a cooking gene,
  • 20:00 - 20:04
    until I remember that the majority
    of the famous cooks in the world,
  • 20:04 - 20:07
    whom we give the fancy title of "chefs,"
  • 20:07 - 20:08
    are men.
  • 20:09 - 20:11
    I used to look up to my grandmother
  • 20:11 - 20:13
    who was a brilliant, brilliant woman,
  • 20:13 - 20:15
    and wonder how she would have been
  • 20:15 - 20:18
    if she had the same opportunity
    as men when she was growing up.
  • 20:19 - 20:22
    Now today, there are
    many more opportunities for women
  • 20:22 - 20:24
    than there were during
    my grandmother's time
  • 20:24 - 20:27
    because of changes in policy,
    changes in law,
  • 20:27 - 20:28
    all of which are very important.
  • 20:28 - 20:32
    But what matters even more
    is our attitude, our mindset,
  • 20:32 - 20:35
    what we believe and what we value
    about gender.
  • 20:36 - 20:38
    What if in raising children
  • 20:38 - 20:42
    we focus on ability instead of gender?
  • 20:42 - 20:43
    What if in raising children
  • 20:43 - 20:47
    we focus on interest instead of gender?
  • 20:47 - 20:50
    I know a family who have
    a son and a daughter,
  • 20:50 - 20:51
    both of whom are brilliant at school,
  • 20:51 - 20:53
    who are wonderful, lovely children.
  • 20:53 - 20:56
    When the boy is hungry,
    the parents say to the girl
  • 20:56 - 20:59
    "Go and cook Indomie noodles
    for your brother."
  • 20:59 - 21:03
    Now the daughter doesn't particularly like
    to cook Indomie noodles,
  • 21:03 - 21:06
    but she's a girl,
    and so she has to.
  • 21:06 - 21:07
    Now, what if the parents,
  • 21:07 - 21:08
    from the beginning,
  • 21:08 - 21:14
    taught both the boy and the girl
    to cook Indomie?
  • 21:14 - 21:17
    Cooking, by the way,
    is a very useful skill for boys to have.
  • 21:17 - 21:22
    I've never thought it made sense
    to leave such a crucial thing,
  • 21:22 - 21:25
    the ability to nourish oneself,
  • 21:25 - 21:27
    in the hands of others.
  • 21:27 - 21:32
    (Applause)
  • 21:32 - 21:36
    I know a woman who has the same degree
    and the same job as her husband,
  • 21:36 - 21:39
    when they get back from work
    she does most of the house work,
  • 21:39 - 21:41
    which I think is true for many marriages,
  • 21:41 - 21:43
    But what struck me about them was that
  • 21:43 - 21:46
    whenever her husband changed
    the baby's diaper,
  • 21:46 - 21:48
    she said "thank you" to him.
  • 21:49 - 21:54
    Now what if she saw this
    as perfectly normal and natural
  • 21:54 - 21:57
    that he should, in fact,
    care for his child?
  • 22:00 - 22:03
    I'm trying to unlearn
    many of the lessons of gender
  • 22:03 - 22:06
    that I internalized when I was growing up.
  • 22:06 - 22:08
    But I sometimes still feel very vulnerable
  • 22:08 - 22:11
    in the face of gender expectations.
  • 22:11 - 22:14
    The first time I taught a
    writing class in graduate school
  • 22:14 - 22:16
    I was worried.
  • 22:16 - 22:19
    I wasn't worried about the material
    I would teach because I was well-prepared
  • 22:19 - 22:21
    and I was going to teach
    what I enjoy teaching.
  • 22:21 - 22:24
    Instead, I was worried about what to wear.
  • 22:25 - 22:27
    I wanted to be taken seriously.
  • 22:27 - 22:29
    I knew that because I was female
  • 22:29 - 22:33
    I will automatically
    have to prove my worth.
  • 22:33 - 22:35
    And I was worried if I looked too feminine
  • 22:35 - 22:38
    I would not be taken seriously.
  • 22:38 - 22:42
    I really wanted to wear my shiny lip gloss
    and my girly skirt,
  • 22:42 - 22:43
    but I decided not to.
  • 22:43 - 22:46
    Instead, I wore a very serious,
  • 22:46 - 22:49
    very manly, and very ugly suit.
  • 22:50 - 22:53
    Because the sad truth is
    that when it comes to appearance
  • 22:53 - 22:55
    we start off with man as the standard,
  • 22:55 - 22:56
    as the norm.
  • 22:56 - 22:59
    If a man is getting ready
    for a business meeting
  • 22:59 - 23:00
    he doesn't worry about
    looking too masculine
  • 23:00 - 23:03
    and therefore not being taken for granted.
  • 23:03 - 23:06
    If a woman has to get ready
    for business meeting,
  • 23:06 - 23:10
    she has to worry about looking
    too feminine, and what it says
  • 23:10 - 23:13
    and whether or not
    she will be taken seriously.
  • 23:14 - 23:17
    I wish I had not worn
    that ugly suit that day.
  • 23:17 - 23:20
    I've actually banished it from my closet,
    by the way.
  • 23:21 - 23:26
    Had I then the confidence
    that I have now to be myself
  • 23:26 - 23:29
    my students would have benefited
    even more from my teaching,
  • 23:29 - 23:31
    because I would have been
    more comfortable,
  • 23:31 - 23:33
    and more fully and more truly myself.
  • 23:34 - 23:38
    I have chosen to no longer be apologetic
    for my femaleness
  • 23:38 - 23:40
    and for my femininity.
  • 23:40 - 23:47
    (Applause)
  • 23:47 - 23:50
    And I want to be respected
    in all of my femaleness
  • 23:50 - 23:52
    because I deserve to be.
  • 23:52 - 23:55
    Gender is not an easy conversation
    to have.
  • 23:56 - 23:58
    For both men and women,
  • 23:58 - 24:01
    to bring up gender, sometimes
    encounters almost immediate resistance.
  • 24:01 - 24:04
    I can imagine some people here
    are actually thinking
  • 24:04 - 24:07
    "Women, true to selves? "
  • 24:08 - 24:10
    Some of the men here might be thinking
  • 24:10 - 24:12
    "Okay, all of this is interesting,
  • 24:12 - 24:15
    but I don't think like that."
  • 24:15 - 24:17
    And that is part of the problem.
  • 24:17 - 24:20
    That many men do not actively think
    about gender
  • 24:20 - 24:22
    or notice gender,
  • 24:22 - 24:24
    is part of the problem of gender.
  • 24:24 - 24:26
    That many men, say, like my friend Louis,
  • 24:26 - 24:29
    that everything is fine now.
  • 24:29 - 24:32
    And that many men do nothing to change it.
  • 24:32 - 24:35
    If you are a man and you walk
    into a restaurant with a woman
  • 24:35 - 24:37
    and the waiter greets only you,
  • 24:37 - 24:39
    does it occur to you to ask the waiter
  • 24:39 - 24:42
    "Why haven't you greeted her?"
  • 24:44 - 24:46
    Because gender can be...
  • 24:47 - 24:54
    (Laughter)
  • 24:56 - 24:59
    Actually we may repose part of
    a longer version of this talk.
  • 25:00 - 25:04
    So, because gender can be
    a very uncomfortable conversation to have,
  • 25:04 - 25:07
    there are very easy ways to close it,
    to close the conversation.
  • 25:07 - 25:10
    So some people will bring up
    evolutionary biology
  • 25:10 - 25:11
    and apes,
  • 25:11 - 25:15
    how, you know, female apes
    bow down to male apes
  • 25:15 - 25:17
    and that sort of thing.
  • 25:17 - 25:19
    But the point is we're not apes.
  • 25:19 - 25:25
    (Laughter)
    (Applause)
  • 25:26 - 25:30
    Apes also live on trees and
    have earth worms for breakfast
  • 25:30 - 25:32
    but we don't.
  • 25:32 - 25:33
    Some people will say,
  • 25:33 - 25:36
    "Well, poor men also have a hard time."
  • 25:36 - 25:39
    And this is true.
  • 25:39 - 25:41
    But that is not what this...
    (Laughter)
  • 25:41 - 25:44
    But this is not what this conversation
    is about.
  • 25:46 - 25:49
    Gender and class are different forms
    of oppression.
  • 25:49 - 25:53
    I actually learned quite a bit
    about systems of oppression
  • 25:53 - 25:55
    and how they can be blind to one another
  • 25:55 - 25:58
    by talking to black men.
  • 25:58 - 26:01
    I was once talking to a black man
    about gender
  • 26:01 - 26:02
    and he said to me,
  • 26:02 - 26:04
    "Why do you have to say
  • 26:04 - 26:06
    'my experience as a woman'?
  • 26:06 - 26:07
    why can't it be
  • 26:07 - 26:10
    'your experience as a human being'?"
  • 26:11 - 26:13
    Now this was the same man
    who would often talk about
  • 26:13 - 26:16
    his experience as a black man.
  • 26:18 - 26:21
    Gender matters. Men and women
    experience the world differently.
  • 26:22 - 26:25
    Gender colors the way
    we experience the world.
  • 26:25 - 26:27
    But we can change that.
  • 26:27 - 26:29
    Some people will say,
  • 26:29 - 26:32
    "Oh but women have the real power,
  • 26:32 - 26:33
    bottom power."
  • 26:33 - 26:36
    And for non-Nigerians, bottom power
    is an expression which --
  • 26:36 - 26:38
    I suppose means something like
  • 26:38 - 26:42
    a woman who uses her sexuality
    to get favors from men.
  • 26:42 - 26:45
    But bottom power is not power at all.
  • 26:47 - 26:50
    Bottom power means that a woman
  • 26:50 - 26:53
    simply has a good root to tap into,
    from time to time,
  • 26:53 - 26:56
    somebody else's power.
  • 26:56 - 26:57
    And then of course we have to wonder
  • 26:57 - 26:59
    what happens when that somebody else is
  • 26:59 - 27:00
    in a bad mood,
  • 27:00 - 27:02
    or sick,
  • 27:02 - 27:03
    or impotent.
  • 27:03 - 27:07
    (Laughter)
  • 27:08 - 27:13
    Some people will say that a woman
    being subordinate to a man is our culture.
  • 27:14 - 27:16
    But culture is constantly changing.
  • 27:16 - 27:19
    I have beautiful twin nieces
    who are fifteen
  • 27:19 - 27:20
    and live in Lagos,
  • 27:20 - 27:23
    if they had been born a hundred years ago
  • 27:23 - 27:25
    they would have been taken away
    and killed.
  • 27:25 - 27:29
    Because it was our culture,
    it was our culture to kill twins.
  • 27:29 - 27:32
    So what is the point of culture?
  • 27:32 - 27:34
    I mean there's the decorative,
  • 27:34 - 27:35
    the dancing...
  • 27:35 - 27:40
    but also, culture really is about
    preservation and continuity of a people.
  • 27:40 - 27:41
    In my family,
  • 27:41 - 27:45
    I am the child who is most interested
    in the story of who we are,
  • 27:45 - 27:46
    in our tradition,
  • 27:46 - 27:48
    in the knowledge about ancestral lands.
  • 27:48 - 27:51
    My brothers are not as interested as I am.
  • 27:51 - 27:53
    But I cannot participate,
  • 27:53 - 27:55
    I cannot go to their meetings,
  • 27:55 - 27:57
    I cannot have a say.
  • 27:57 - 27:59
    Because I'm female.
  • 27:59 - 28:01
    Culture does not make people,
  • 28:01 - 28:03
    people make culture.
  • 28:05 - 28:08
    (Applause)
  • 28:09 - 28:12
    So if it's in fact true
    that the full humanity of women
  • 28:12 - 28:16
    is not our culture,
    then we must make it our culture.
  • 28:17 - 28:22
    I think very often
    of my dear friend Okuloma,
  • 28:22 - 28:27
    may he and all the others that passed
    away in that Sosoliso Crash
  • 28:27 - 28:29
    continue to rest in peace.
  • 28:29 - 28:33
    He will always be remembered
    by those of us who loved him.
  • 28:33 - 28:36
    And he was right that day many years ago
  • 28:36 - 28:38
    when he called me a feminist.
  • 28:38 - 28:40
    I am a feminist.
  • 28:40 - 28:43
    And when I looked up the word
    in the dictionary that day,
  • 28:43 - 28:44
    this is what it said:
  • 28:44 - 28:45
    Feminist,
  • 28:45 - 28:47
    a person who believes
    in the social, political
  • 28:47 - 28:50
    and economic equality of the sexes.
  • 28:51 - 28:53
    My great grandmother,
  • 28:53 - 28:54
    from the stories I've heard,
  • 28:54 - 28:56
    was a feminist.
  • 28:56 - 28:59
    She ran away from the house of the man
    she did not want to marry,
  • 28:59 - 29:02
    and ended up marrying the man
    of her choice.
  • 29:02 - 29:05
    She refused,
    she protested, she spoke up
  • 29:05 - 29:11
    whenever she felt she's being deprived
    of access, or land, that sort of thing.
  • 29:11 - 29:14
    My great grandmother did not know
    that word "feminist,"
  • 29:14 - 29:17
    but it doesn't mean that she wasn't one.
  • 29:17 - 29:20
    More of us should reclaim that word.
  • 29:21 - 29:24
    My own definition of feminist is:
  • 29:24 - 29:26
    a feminist is a man or a woman
  • 29:26 - 29:28
    who says -
  • 29:28 - 29:38
    (Laughter)
    (Applause)
  • 29:38 - 29:41
    a feminist is a man or a woman who says
  • 29:41 - 29:44
    "Yes, there's a problem
    with gender as it is today,
  • 29:44 - 29:46
    and we must fix it.
  • 29:46 - 29:48
    We must do better."
  • 29:49 - 29:50
    The best feminist I know
  • 29:50 - 29:53
    is my brother Kenny.
  • 29:54 - 29:58
    He's also a kind, good-looking,
    lovely man,
  • 29:58 - 30:00
    and he's very masculine.
  • 30:00 - 30:02
    Thank you.
  • 30:02 - 30:07
    (Applause)
Title:
We should all be feminists - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at TEDxEuston
Description:

In this funny and sincere talk, Chimamanda Adichie questions gender roles and suggests a different way of thinking about them, one that could truly bring equality.

more » « less
Video Language:
English
Team:
TED
Project:
TEDxTalks
Duration:
30:17
  • I don't understand the person of reference at 13:45.. A nigerian.... and the yoruba (?) word at 24:04 HELP!

  • Hi. I'm returning the transcript for further editing and improvement. Note: in the new editor, you can see the character length of each subtitle, as well as its reading speed (characters/second). For languages based on the Latin alphabet, the maximum subtitle length is 84 characters (subtitles over 42 characters need to be broken into two lines). The maximum reading speed should be less than 22 characters per second. You can access the new editor by clicking "Beta: Save and open in new editor" after opening the task in the old interface. To learn more about line length, line breaking and reading speed, watch this tutorial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvNQoD32Qqo /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// Please remember to edit the title and description according to the guidelines - the title should not contain the year of the event, and description should have 1-2 sentences describing the talk, and all other info about the speaker, their work or the TEDx program should be removed. http://translations.ted.org/wiki/How_to_Tackle_a_Transcript#Title_and_description_standard

  • The maximum length of a subtitle is 84. I corrected the subtitles that were over this limit. Note: in the new editor, you can see the character length of each subtitle, as well as its reading speed (characters/second). For languages based on the Latin alphabet, the maximum subtitle length is 84 characters (subtitles over 42 characters need to be broken into two lines). The maximum reading speed should be less than 22 characters per second. You can access the new editor by clicking "Beta: Save and open in new editor" after opening the task in the old interface. To learn more about line length, line breaking and reading speed, watch this tutorial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvNQoD32Qqo
    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////
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