Nigerian author and feminist activist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards participated in a discussion titled “How To Raise A Feminist” on Wednesday night at Tina Brown’s Women in the World Summit.
The panel was moderated by Katie Couric, who quoted a TED Talk by Adichie in which she said, “When a man changes a diaper, the woman says thank you, but when a woman changes a diaper, no one says thank you.”
Adichie responded: “I’m just really tired of men being thanked for doing things they should do anyway.”
Of her own husband, Adichie said: “He’s an equally attentive parent, as he should be. And my family and his family go, ‘Oh how wonderful. Oh he actually changed that diaper.’ And I’m just thinking, Yes! That’s what he should bloody well do.”
Adichie is the mother of a young daughter, and chose not to announce the pregnancy or birth, since she didn’t want to “perform pregnancy.” Richards is a mother of three, including a son who she said is as “fierce a feminist as his two sisters.” Couric also has two daughters.
Asked for her advice on the topic of raising boys, Adichie said that she has been thinking of ways to deconstruct the concept of masculinity, which she feels is bad for men.
“Sometimes there’s a sadness to realizing that masculinity, even though it comes with privileges, is also a cage that limits men. And I’ve lately been thinking about how about we start to use shame ― and hear me out ― what if we taught little boys to be ashamed of things like excessive macho-ness, to be ashamed of not being able to express their emotions, to be ashamed of the idea of an ego?” she said. “What if we raised boys that way? In other words, just raised them to think about masculinity as something very different than what we think about today.”
Richards pointed out that men have been increasingly active in the fight for women’s rights, such as the recent Women’s March, especially fathers.
“Increasingly in this country, fathers want their daughters to have every opportunity that their sons have,” she said. “And that means people are going to stand and fight.”
Richards later added: “Right now, women’s rights are under assault in this country and in some areas around the world. There has never been a better opportunity to raise a feminist. Take him to the marches, take him to Congress, speak up and speak out. That’s the most important thing we could be doing right now for the next generation.”