What started off as a response to a friend’s request on how to raise her daughter as a feminist, meta-sized into this book. True to its title, this book contains practical, realistic and timely nuggets of wisdom on feminism. That it was written by a remarkably accomplished, fearlessly confident, and unapologetic feminist, ennobles the content herein.
This book spoke to me because I yearn for an equal and equitable world for everyone. It’s something I hope my young nieces (when they come of age), and everyone in general, read. These are the lessons that spoke to me the most. I shall leave them here for two principal reasons. One, for my nieces to read when they come of age. Two, because this is a conversation we must never tire of having.
- “Be a full person. Motherhood is a glorious gift, but do not define yourself solely by motherhood. Be a full person.”
- “Domestic work and care-giving should be gender-neutral, and we should be asking not whether a woman can ‘do it all’ but how best to support parents in their dual duties at work and at home.”
- “The knowledge of cooking does not come pre-installed in a vagina. Cooking is learned. Cooking – domestic work in general – is a life skill that both men and women should ideally have. It is also a skill that can elude both men and women.”
- “Our world is full of men and women who do not like powerful women. We have been so conditioned to think of power as male that a powerful woman is an aberration.”
- “Books will help her understand and question the world, help her express herself, and help her in whatever she wants to become – a chef, a scientist, a singer, all benefit from the skills that reading brings. I don’t mean school books. I mean books that have nothing to do with school, autobiographies and novels and histories.”
- “Teach her that if you criticize X in women but don’t criticize X in men, then you do not have a problem with X, you have a problem with women. For X please insert words like anger, ambition, loudness, stubbornness, coldness, ruthlessness.”
- “Teach her to reject likeability. Her job is not to make herself likeable, her job is to be her full self, a self that is honest and aware of the equal humanity of other people.”
- “If another child takes her toy without her permission, ask her to take it back, because her consent is important. Tell her that if anything ever makes her uncomfortable, to speak up, to say it, to shout.”
- “Be deliberate also about showing her the enduring beauty and resilience of Africans and of black people. Why? Because of the power dynamics in the world, she will grow up seeing images of white beauty, white ability and white achievement, no matter where she is in the world. She will probably grow up seeing many negative images of blackness and of Africans. Teach her to take pride in the history of Africans, and in the black diaspora. Find black heroes, men and women, in history. They exist.”
- “Teach her about privilege and inequality and the importance of giving dignity to everyone who does not mean her harm – teach her that the household help is human just like her, teach her to always greet the driver.”
- “Teach her that Biology is an interesting and fascinating subject, but she should never accept it as justification for any social norm. Because social norms are created by human beings, and there is not social norm that can’t be changed.”
- “Talk to her about sex, and start early. It will probably be a bit awkward but it is necessary.”
- “Teach her to reject the linking of shame and female biology. Why were we raised to speak in low tones about periods? To be filled with shame if our menstrual blood happened to stain our skirt? Periods are nothing to be ashamed of. Periods are normal and natural, and the human species would not be here if periods did not exist.”
- “Teach her that to love she must give of herself emotionally but she must also expect to be given to.”
Whereas the book was primarily dedicated to a woman about raising her daughter, the lessons herein are important and relevant to everyone else.
REVIEW BY AURA BILLY OSOGO