Yesterday, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie had the honor of giving the commencement speech to the class of 2015 at Wellesley College, Massachusetts. A usual, the award winning Nigerian writer spoke on Feminism, the topic closest to her heart. She urged the graduates to try their best to change their world to one more equal for men and for women too, giving men the freedom to be vulnerable, and women the choice to be strong. Read an excerpt from her speech below, and watch the video too...
We can not always bend the world into the shapes we want but we can try, we can make a concerted and real and true effort. And you are privileged that, because of your education here, you have already been given many of the tools that you will need to try. Always just try. Because you never know.
And so as you graduate, as you deal with your excitement and your doubts today, I urge you to try and create the world you want to live in.
Minister to the world in a way that can change it. Minister radically in a real, active, practical, get your hands dirty way.
Wellesley will open doors for you. Walk through those doors and make your strides long and firm and sure.
Write television shows in which female strength is not depicted as remarkable but merely normal.
Teach your students to see that vulnerability is a HUMAN rather than a FEMALE trait.
Commission magazine articles that teach men HOW TO KEEP A WOMAN HAPPY. Because there are already too many articles that tell women how to keep a man happy. And in media interviews make sure fathers are asked how they balance family and work. In this age of ‘parenting as guilt,’ please spread the guilt equally. Make fathers feel as bad as mothers. Make fathers share in the glory of guilt.
Campaign and agitate for paid paternity leave everywhere in America.
Hire more women where there are few. But remember that a woman you hire doesn’t have to be exceptionally good. Like a majority of the men who get hired, she just needs to be good enough. […]
All over the world, girls are raised to be make themselves likeable, to twist themselves into shapes that suit other people.
Please do not twist yourself into shapes to please. Don’t do it. If someone likes that version of you, that version of you that is false and holds back, then they actually just like that twisted shape, and not you. And the world is such a gloriously multifaceted, diverse place that there are people in the world who will like you, the real you, as you are.
I am lucky that my writing has given me a platform that I choose to use to talk about things that I care about, and I have said a few things that have not been so popular with a number of people. I have been told to shut up about certain things – such as my position on the equal rights of gay people on the continent of Africa, such as my deeply held belief that men and women are completely equal. I don’t speak to provoke. I speak because I think our time on earth is short and each moment that we are not our truest selves, each moment we pretend to be what we are not, each moment we say what we do not mean because we imagine that is what somebody wants us to say, then we are wasting our time on earth.
I don’t mean to sound precious but please don’t waste your time on earth, but there is one exception. The only acceptable way of wasting your time on earth is online shopping.
Okay, one last thing about my mother. My mother and I do not agree on many things regarding gender. There are certain things my mother believes a person should do, for the simple reason that said person ‘is a woman.’ Such as nod occasionally and smile even when smiling is the last thing one wants to do. Such as strategically give in to certain arguments, especially when arguing with a non-female. Such as get married and have children. I can think of fairly good reasons for doing any of these. But ‘because you are a woman’ is not one of them. And so, Class of 2015, never ever accept ‘Because You Are A Woman’ as a reason for doing anything.
Finally I would like to end with a final note on the most important thing in the world: love.
Now girls are often raised to see love only as giving. Women are praised for their love when that love is an act of giving. But to love is to give AND to take.
Please love by giving and by taking. Give and be given. If you are only giving and not taking, you’ll know. You’ll know from that small and true voice inside you that we females are so often socialized to silence.
Don’t silence that voice. Dare to take.