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Adichie Versus Cinderella

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Chimamanda Adichie is a girlie girl at heart. Like many of us, she grew up on the romance fiction series called Mills & Boon even though she now condemns the inherent misogyny in many of these stories.  In the weeks leading up to the official release of her third novel, Americanah, her feminism has, however, taken on a harshly strident tone. Last month, she told Claire Cohen of The Telegraph that “the mainstream idea of a marriage proposal” angers her. She thinks that only a simpering and silly woman would wait for a man to decide whether or not to marry her and then pretend to be surprised when he finally pops the question.

“That whole Cinderella thing is such crap!…those stories mess you up. The most offensive thing is that you’re expected to show gratitude. I have a problem with the mainstream idea of a marriage proposal. The woman isn’t sure—she is hoping—and then one day he whips out the ring and she goes “oh.” I mean what the fuck is that? The idea that you are waiting for him to decide. O—worse yet—that you have to find a way to manipulate him into marriage. Jesus. It makes me so angry.” Continue…

What do you think? Do you agree with her point about what a marriage proposal means? Does wanting a man to propose to you make you any less feminist? Is marriage proposal misogynist? Or has she gotten it all wrong? Get the conversation going by letting me know what you think.

Oh if you haven’t seen her recent Ted talk on feminism, take a look. Like her other Ted talk, “The Danger of the Single Story,” this talk is a string of interesting anecdotes. They are mostly personal and sometimes funny accounts of experiences that have helped her think about the larger question of sexual difference, particularly as it relates to Africa.

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Ainehi Edoro is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches African literature. She received her doctorate at Duke University. She is the founder and editor of Brittle Paper and series editor of Ohio University Press’s Modern African Writer’s imprint.

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