Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie doesn’t care how “likable” she is.
In an interview with The Washington Post published on International Women’s Day, Adichie discussed feminism and her new book, Dear Ijeawele. The acclaimed feminist author and mother initially wrote Dear Ijeawele as a letter to a friend asking for parenting advice. Adichie told WaPo the book includes suggestions on how to raise daughters in our sexist culture, including lessons like “teach her self-reliance” and “never speak of marriage as an achievement.”
“It’s not your job to be likable. It’s your job to be yourself,” Adichie told WaPo. “Someone will like you anyway.”
Adichie writes in Dear Ijeawele that she feels these conversations with children, but young daughters especially, are imperative to breaking down sexism, according to WaPo’s Nora Krug.
“I think it is morally urgent to have honest conversations about raising children differently, about trying to create a fairer world for women and men,” she wrote.
Adichie told Krug that gender roles are so often learned from a young age.
“The knowledge of cooking does not come pre-installed in a vagina. Cooking is learned,” she said, adding that she really dislikes the “Can women have it all?” conversation. “It’s a debate that assumes women do all of the child-raising and domestic work ― and we give her a special cookie when she works outside the home. When dad picks up a kid one time, he gets seven cookies.”
She pointed to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as an example of how gender roles are much harsher for women. Clinton’s Twitter bio starts with “wife, mom, grandma,” Adichie told WaPo. But Bill Clinton’s first word in his Twitter bio is “founder.”
“We want women seeking power to be tempered by a more domestic side. We don’t expect the same of men,” Adichie said. “Women have to straddle a line so that they are seen as not so forceful that they are a shrew or emasculating, but not weak. It’s a kind of juggling that men don’t even have to consider at all.”
Head over to The Washington Post to read the full interview.