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Littler Books cover of We Should All Be Feminists Summary

We Should All Be Feminists Book Summary, Notes, and Quotes

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

1.9 minutes to read
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What it's about in a one sentence summary:

A personal and powerful essay that argues for the necessity of feminism in today's world.

Bullet Point Summary, Notes, and Quotes

  1. Despite the victories of feminism in achieving women's suffrage, pay equality, and the right to abortion, there is still a need for feminism today.
  2. The societal norms and biases that perpetuate gender inequality still exist, and women do not have the same opportunities as men.
  3. Feminism is often met with negative reactions and misconceptions, with some viewing feminists as man haters who want to take over the world, or jealous women incapable of finding a man. Even those who believe in gender equality may think that feminism is no longer necessary, believing women now have the same freedoms as men.
  4. One of the author's friends didn't think feminism was relevant, until one day he went out for dinner with the author, and their valet thanked him for the tip instead of the author, even though the author was the one who handed the valet the tip.
  5. Despite legal protections giving women the right to pursue any career they want, gender inequality in the workplace still exists.
  6. The glass ceiling for women refers to how the highest positions and salaries in organizations typically go to men, even in traditionally "feminine" fields like cooking and teaching.
  7. There is also an income gap. Research shows full-time male workers earning 21% more than their female counterparts in 2014 (i.e., 79 cents per dollar).
  8. Discrimination can take subtle forms, such as holding men and women to different standards in terms of behavior and ideas. Women are often criticized and dismissed for behaviors (being assertive, authoritative, outspoken, etc.) that would be praised in men.
  9. Women are often treated as second-class citizens by unfair societal standards.
  10. In many cultures:
    1. Women who don't have children are considered failures. Many sacrifice their careers and dreams to bear children.
    2. Women are expected to behave pleasantly and submissively.
    3. Women are encouraged to preserve their virginity and be "pure", while men are praised for being promiscuous.
    4. Women are often blamed for being sexually assaulted or harassed, instead of questioning the male aggression.
  11. Women in Nigeria can't go to clubs alone, because they're automatically assumed to be prostitutes if they do.
  12. Gender-based discrimination limits women's identities and desires.
  13. While there are obvious biological differences between men and women (women give birth; men have more testosterone, size, and strength), they do not legitimize inequality.
  14. The rooted pattern of men being societal leaders arose from physical strength being an important factor of survival in ancient times.
  15. Today, physical strength is no longer the most useful survival skill, and important skills like creativity and innovation are not gender-specific. Society has evolved, but gender norms have not, and women are often held back by invisible archaic norms and expectations.
  16. We should challenge the idea that women must adhere to traditional masculine norms to prove their worth. E.g., you shouldn't need to earn respect by wearing a suit -- you should be able to wear your dress and still be respected.
  17. We need to address and rethink masculine values as well. Men are expected to be stoic and repress their negative emotions, which hurts both genders.
  18. We should have open conversations about how we can tackle gender issues and move beyond gender blindness (pretending gender differences don't exist).
  19. We've made progress in abolishing outdated practices. A hundred years ago, the author's twin nieces would have been killed at birth, because twins were considered an evil omen in Nigerian Igbo culture. Cultural norms have changed in the past, and they can continue to change.

We Should All Be Feminists: Resources