Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie says that feminism is slightly easier for women in Nigeria than their counterparts in the United States.
The 39-year-old writer of Half of a Yellow Sun told TimesTalks in an interview that this applies to older women in both countries.
“I think feminism is always contextual. I think in general and at the risk of simplifying, it is slightly easier for women in Nigeria as they get older and I think it gets slightly difficult for women in the US as they get older,” she said.
“To be young and female in the US means to be shielded becuase things are not as overt but I think as you get older and become more invisible in more ways than one and that is where the more structural things kick in.
“When you are 12, the pay gap doesn’t really affect you but when you are 55, it does. For me, there is a kind of invisibility for older women in this country, a very disturbing worship of youth that I find strange.
“Youth is lovely but I don’t think there’s much the youth can teach me. I’d like to learn about women who are 55, about their experiences. I feel like there is no mainstream culture that celebrates women who have passed a certain age.
“In Nigeria, because it is still a culture that largely respects age. When a woman gets older, there’s a bit of more respect as though age starts to shape gender. People have said that the worst thing in Nigeria is to be young, female and occupy any position of power.”
Adichie said in Nigeria, feminists know what they are up against and this makes it easier for them.
“In some ways, there is something refreshing about Nigeria’s sexism because you know what you are dealing with. In this country, it’s layered and there is a lot of pressure on women here to prove sexism. Look at what happened with Hillary Clinton and it’s interesting how many intelligent people are dismissive of the fact that misogny played a role in how she was covered.
“In Nigeria, people will tell you clearly, a woman can not be a governor so at least you know what you are dealing with. Women in this country are expected to be sexy but not sexual.
“With all the conversations about rape or consent, I feel like we are not talking about the fundamental thing which is that sexuality is not allowed women. Female sexuality is something we are uncomfortable about.
“In Nigeria, they are very clear, don’t be sexy, don’t be sexual. There is nothing to be confused about. I don’t think any is better or worse but there is something to be said about being refreshingly obvious.”
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