#05: Preaching to the choir (to make money?)
A review of the book - "We should all be Feminists" by Chimamanda Ngozi
One word review
I came across the book when I met a friend who was reading it while waiting for me. Obviously the conversation moved to the book at some point and I was outraged to find that the book (more like a booklet) was priced at an outrageous Rs 250.
Now I don't think there is an issue with authors pricing their books any price that they want, but when you title your book as "We Should All Be Feminists", it at least to me implies, you are targeting people who are not aware of Feminism, in some shape or form and if that is the case, that is, you're making an ideological contribution, you cannot be make money off it. Again, I don't have an issue with people making money but you can either make money (off your loyal base) or make fresh converts.
And that's the crux of my issue with the book. Looking at a price tag it, to me, appears like a book marketed at people who already identify as feminists and thus there is no real convincing happening, more of a signalling of commitment to the cause. Only someone who identifies as a feminist and has a decent amount of money would agree to but a 52 page book priced at Rs. 250.
This is a problem because even though I don't identify as a feminist myself, I think more people getting acquainted with the world and ideas of feminism would be a better outcome for the world and this book * pretends * to be a step in that direction while doing anything but that.
Coming to the content of the book. I didn't find anything novel in there and a lot of issues mentioned there according to me (and also this friend of mine) are something that are not something new, but I'll defend the author here on the basis that the author is based in Nigeria and it could very well be, as is evident by her anecdotes, that the society their has just started discussion around the idea of equality of the sexes and thus what seems banal and oft repeated to us, might be a revelation to others.
But using the same logic, I feel a lot of what the author has hinted as sexism, could very well be symptoms of a closed and a segregated society where traditional norms are clashing with modernity and in the crosshairs are caught people who don’t have the luxury or the awareness to scrutinise their actions. Although that is not to dismiss her concerns for she definitely is a better judge of her culture than me.
“We should all be feminists” is a humane introduction to the every struggles of women. It’s not comprehensive or authoritative, but it is personal. You might not know everything about the issues faced by women, but you’ll feel the ones faced by the author and for that it is a good read for someone untouched by the various waves of feminism. To those who are aware about the issues the book has little new to offer, but is good enough for a familiar reintroduction if you’re up for it.
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