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FOR THE BOYS

Video: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on raising feminist boys—because sexism hurts them too

AP Photo/JB Reed
Sticking up for girls—and boys.
  • Jenni Avins
By Jenni Avins

senior lifestyle correspondent

This article is more than 2 years old.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s latest book, Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, is addressed to a friend who wants to raise a feminist daughter. But addressing the Women of the World Festival in London on Saturday, Adichie stressed that feminism isn’t just for girls—and that sexism is harmful to boys too (33:22 in the video below):

Patriarchy also really thrives on having lower standards for men and boys … Obviously this book is about raising a girl, but I do think it’s just as important to raise boys feminist. And I’ve always said that I think that men have to be part of the conversation. I think many of the things would have been similar if I had written about raising a boy. The first thing I would have said though, is that we have to start to smash and dismantle the way that we have constructed masculinity. I think it’s toxic. We have to teach little boys to be vulnerable. We have to make vulnerability something to be proud of. And I also have lately been thinking about the power of shame. There are many instances in which shaming is not a good thing. But I’ve been thinking: What if we start to teach boys to be ashamed of many of the things that define toxic masculinity? What if we teach boys to be ashamed of not being able to communicate? Not being able to be in touch with their emotions? … What if vulnerability was a thing to be proud of for boys? And I think, related to that, it’s important for us to teach girls that it’s okay for boys to cry.

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