Writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie addressed the Wellesley College class of 2015 last Friday. Adichie urged the graduates to be inclusive.
“Recently a feminist organization kindly nominated me for an important prize in a country that will remain unnamed. I was very pleased. I’ve been fortunate to have received a few prizes so far and I quite like them especially when they come with shiny presents. To get this prize, I was required to talk about how important a particular European feminist woman writer had been to me. Now the truth was that I had never managed to finish this feminist writer’s book. It did not speak to me. It would have been a lie to claim that she had any major influence on my thinking. The truth is that I learned so much more about feminism from watching the women traders in the market in Nsukka where I grew up, than from reading any seminal feminist text. I could have said that this woman was important to me, and I could have talked the talk, and I could have been given the prize and a shiny present.
But I didn’t.
Because I had begun to ask myself what it really means to wear this FEMINIST label so publicly.
Just as I asked myself after excerpts of my feminism speech were used in a song by a talented musician whom I think some of you might know. I thought it was a very good thing that the word ‘feminist’ would be introduced to a new generation.
But I was startled by how many people, many of whom were academics, saw something troubling, even menacing, in this.
It was as though feminism was supposed to be an elite little cult, with esoteric rites of membership.
But it shouldn’t. Feminism should be an inclusive party. Feminism should be a party full of different feminisms.
And so, class of 2015, please go out there and make Feminism a big raucous inclusive party.”
Watch the entire speech below:
Photo: Wellesley College