Cecile Richards and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie with Katie Couric.
Last night, to kick off Tina Brown’s annual Women in the World Summit, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards and MacArthur Fellowship-winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie tackled the subject of feminism in 2017. Host Katie Couric broached a number of topics during the panel, including how to raise a generation of feminists and how women can survive living in Donald Trump’s America. Five highlights from their talk are below.
1. On the need to be liked: “There is a terrible, dangerous, insidious cultural mindset that says to women, You need to be liked. I think it is nice to be liked, we all like to be liked, even men, but it is that women are raised with that, and we internalize it, so it shapes everything we do. … Women that are in situations that are uncomfortable are still worried about their likability.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
2. On what progress feels like: “I was born under a lucky star and had a feminist mother who understood if you weren’t pissing someone off you weren’t making any progress. … If you are going to stand up for what you believe in — and particularly these days — to me the definition of feminism now is get in the game. Feminism now cannot be a passive identity. It has to be something we stand up and fight for.” – Cecile Richards
3. Don’t mention the patriarchy if you want feminism to work: “Sometimes you say words like patriarchy and misogyny — people don’t know what the heck you are talking about. But if you said you are criticizing ambition in Katie Couric but you are not criticizing ambition in Joe Brown, that is not a good thing. … Labels are fine maybe for academia but for the real world we need to get to the level of example, the level of story. I think that is what reaches people and emotions are what make people change or willing to change.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
4. How to raise a feminist: “Don’t think about gender, and also be very alert to gender. By which I mean, I think even the most progressive parents often find themselves falling into the rote idea of you are a boy, and you are crying too much, and that’s not really okay because you are a boy, so that is what I mean. Just think [of] children as individuals … but on the other hand we live in a world that that is so horribly gendered. For me, I think the major problem is the way we have constructed gender and also the binary nature of it. It is really dangerous because what happens is we don’t see women as individuals. We see people as you are a woman, therefore you should be a nice person, and it is very problematic.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
5. And how to make your feminist child an activist: “Take them to the marches, take them to Congress, speak up and speak out — that is the most important thing we can be doing right now for the next generation.” – Cecile Richards