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Chimamanda: Women are judged harshly for showing anger — but we won’t stop

Chimamanda: Women are judged harshly for showing anger — but we won’t stop
September 25
18:45 2022

Chimamanda Adichie, the Nigerian novelist, says women are judged very harshly for showing anger, while men do not get the same treatment for showing the same emotion. 

The renowned author called on women, especially black women, to keep showing anger until it becomes ordinary.

In conversation with Melinda French Gates at the Goalkeepers Summit 2022 in New York, Adichie said women must keep showing anger and demanding their space regardless of the consequences.

“Women are judged very harshly when they show anger, but when black women show anger, it is catastrophic,” she said.

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“That becomes the thing they are known for — it’s awful. But I keep saying to black women, we have to keep showing anger. One day, it will become ordinary, because we are human.”

She added that women get labelled and called names for insisting on their space, and “that sometimes holds women back”.

When a woman insists on speaking, “somebody says she is being a B. *. T. C. H., so she gets labelled for insisting on her space. But I really think it’s important for us to be willing to take up those consequences”.

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MELINDA FRENCH GATES: ANGER CAN CREATE CHANGE 

Responding to Adichie’s comment, Melinda French Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), said “sometimes, anger has a role, it helps you change or create change, and if channelled right”.

“Women have voices, it’s not that someone needs to give us our voices, we have voices, but we have to use them fully and not let anyone hold us back.

French Gates called on women to take on “decision-making authority, bodily autonomy,” in order to have resources at their disposal, and not just be on the receiving end of good policy, but be the one making the policies for women.

In the 2022 Goalkeepers Report theme “The Future of Progress” and published earlier in the month, French Gates said “we can’t just talk about empowering women without making sure they are actually gaining power in their families and communities”.

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She said, “the world won’t reach gender equality until at least 2108—three generations later than we’d hoped”.

As co-chair of the foundation, she adds that “we can’t just talk about empowering women without making sure they are actually gaining power in their families and communities”.

She highlights the difference between women having money and possessing the power to spend it without pressure from their husbands.

ADICHIE: WRITING IS MY WAY OF REJECTING SILENCE

Gender Equality is the future of progress

Adichie said she chose writing as a way of rejecting silence, rejecting the culture that puts women down and makes them less than a whole human.

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“I can’t even imagine my life without writing, without storytelling, it is the thing that gives me meaning. Of course, I’m a woman, and I think it is different for women because there is still, all over the world, a very strong cultural need to silence women,” she said, citing Mary Beard.

“I notice this a lot in Nigeria — when I say something people don’t necessarily agree with, they don’t want to engage with the substance, their response is ‘shut up’.

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“In some ways, I think that my choosing to write is my rejecting silence. That silence that is imposed on women. That idea, don’t speak, don’t really express how you’re feeling”.

Both speakers called for gender equality in all spheres of society, calling on both men and women to strive for equality in every corner of the world.

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