Chimamanda: The Radical Feminist?

Notable writer, Chimamanda Adichie, recently expressed her displeasure with the ‘brand’ and style of feminism the former US presidential aspirant, Hillary Clinton, is practicing. This was seen during an interview Mrs. Chimamanda had with the former US Secretary of State on Sunday.

Feminism is an act of giving equal rights and privileges to both men and women, and those who fight this cause are seen as feminist. It started as a wave, to put an end to women oppression and subjugation.

At the PEN World Voices Festival recently, during the interview, Chimamanda used the opportunity to ask Clinton a question about why her Twitter bio reads ‘wife’ before anything else.

“In your Twitter account, the first word that describes you is ‘Wife.’ And then I think it’s ‘Mom,’ and then it’s ‘Grandmother. And when I saw that, I have to confess that I felt just a little bit upset. And then I went and I looked at your husband’s Twitter account, and the first word was not ‘husband”.

Mrs Clinton responded, “When you put it like that, I’m going to change it”.

Clinton quoting Barbara Bush continued;

“She said, you know, at the end of the day, it won’t matter if you got a raise, it won’t matter if you wrote a great book if you are not also someone who values relationships”

She added, “It shouldn’t be either/or. It should be that if you are someone who is defining yourself by what you do and what you accomplish, and that is satisfying, then more power to you. That is how you should be thinking about your life, and living it. If you are someone who primarily defines your life in relationship to others, then more power to you, and live that life the way Barbara Bush lived that life, and how proud she was to do it”

“But I think most of us as women in today’s world end up in the middle. Wanting to have relationships, wanting to invest in them, nurture them, but also pursuing our own interests”.

While Mrs Clinton’s immediate response can be seen as a subtle way of telling Chimamanda to mind her business, however, reactions from activists and critics poured in on Monday morning, a notable one is captured below by Abdul Mahmud on Facebook

“Is Chimamanda Adichie now wearing a garb that fittingly describes her as a second wave feminist, or an anarcho-radical feminist, who dismisses marriage as the site of gender oppression? She is married and she is the wife to a middle-aged man that the world about her knows and describes as her husband, so what is her problem with the noun, wife?

 

So, why was she hung-up about Hilary describing herself first as a wife before other nouns in the bio of her twitter handle? What is really Chimamanda’s problem with the noun, wife? Is it that the noun convokes the image of gender inequality which is often founded within the institution of marriage as second wave feminists or liberal feminists argue? I don’t think this is the case because a wife is an innocuous noun that merely establishes the marital relationship between a woman and a man. In fact, it highlights one half of naming of two sexes. Hilary is a wife because she is married to Bill; Bill is the husband because he is married to Hilary. So, what is Chimamanda’s problem? Does the noun diminish Hilary’s agency or capacity to interrogate the forces that create and give life to inequality and oppression? No, I don’t think so as Hilary’s experiences as a wife, mother, and grandmother place her in the position to provide an intersectional interrogation of gender inequality and oppression.

 

What then is Chimamanda’s problem? Anarcho-feminism. Simple. Like Emma Goldman, that anarcho-feminist before her, she seeks the freedom to live for herself, freedom in love and freedom in motherhood, without giving recognition to the depositors of chromosomes. Or the man she shares her love!

 

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and they become one flesh.

 

Isn’t it the order of things- nature?

 

God isn’t stupid, dear feminists.”

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