Watching TED Talks is a popular pastime at CN&CO. We visit regularly to clear our heads, have a laugh or get inspired. TED Talks open our minds, spark new ways of thinking and can lead to some very interesting conversations. Each week we pick a favourite and publish it on a Tuesday, because we like how “TED Talk Tuesday” sounds.

This week’s talk was selected by CN&CO intern Lorraine Lamola. Here’s why she chose it:

We are living in a world full of isms and I find that feminism is one that takes on different meanings to different people. On the one hand, feminism represents women empowered, but on the other, it is viewed as a movement aimed at emasculating men.

In this TED Talk, Adichie cites (African) culture as one of the contributing factors towards negative feelings regarding feminism.

She states that it is often the norm in African culture for black males to be applauded for their success, while successful black women are ostracized for being “too ambitious” (if there is such a thing). Their success is seen as a threat to a man’s ego.

Traditionally, women are nurtured and groomed to be submissive towards their male counterparts, which indoctrinates males to grow up believing they are superior. Adichie adds that this superiority complex breeds males with fragile egos when faced with a female who is an equal. It is for this reason that there are negative connotations towards empowered females with strong convictions about what they want. Such women are seen as “unfeminine” and not worthy of marriage (because that is all we want) *sarcasm*.

“Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in my mind that marriage is the most important,” she says.

I admire the calm manner in which she delivers this talk, contrary to popular belief about feminists. There exists a misconception about feminists; that they are angry females who hate men.

We have to wonder how empowering and valuing ourselves translates into hatred for the opposite sex. Is the male ego really that fragile? I am inspired by how she unapologetically advocates for the emancipation of black girls from traditional gender roles without bashing the black man.

My take on “we should all be feminists” is basically “we should all be equal”. Two things baffle me however:
The fact that there is even a word to describe a woman who chooses to go against the male biased status quo
What is the word for “emasculate” as it refers to females?

Food for thought.