Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, esteemed Nigerian author, thinks we need to stop using terms like "patriarchy" if we want feminism to work.
She was speaking about the types of specific words people use when discussing issues around feminism. Those words, she says, can be alienating for people who are not in with the woke crowd.
Adichie made these comments at the Women in the World Summit in New York City on Wednesday evening. She was onstage with Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards, in a conversation moderated by Katie Couric.
In her new book, "Dear Ijeawele, Or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions," she suggests doing away with some of the more typical jargon like "patriarchy" and "misogyny."
Instead of using these words, Adichie suggested we should use emotion and storytelling.
The reason that I think that jargon doesn't always work is, sometimes you say 'patriarchy' and people don't know what the heck you're talking about. But if you said, 'You're criticizing ambition in Katie Couric, but you're not criticizing ambition in Joe Brown, and that's not a good thing.' The child sees that, right?
Adichie said that language can be used in "academia." But, she said,
For the real world, I think that we need to get to the level of example, the level of story. I think that's what reaches people, that's what makes people start to see things differently. I think emotion is what makes people change -- or willing to change -- their minds.
Couric asked specifically about the term "feminist" itself. Many women shy away from using it because of its fraught history.
Richards slightly countered Adichie's message, arguing "women are woke in this country, and it's awesome to see."
But Adichie jumped in to clarify we should still be using the term "feminist." Her definition for it is famously quoted in Beyoncé's "Flawless***."
Adichie said we need the word "feminism" because "we need a name for something." And a term like "humanist" isn't enough because it doesn't address the female-specific fight behind feminism.
She said she made it a point to "reclaim" the name feminist. Adichie said,
There are many black and brown women in this country who are uncomfortable with that word, and I think understandably so, because the history of Western feminism was racist and excluded them. But I also think that we've come to the point where we can re-own it and re-take it, and make it this complex, multi-thing that it should be.
It's a message we can all get behind, and one we can already see in the formation of the Women's March multi-faceted goals.