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The power of a woman’s criticism

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The power of a woman’s criticism

The term ‘woman’ is the vessel of life and it is not a duty she discharges with levity. When the word, woman, is mentioned, apart from beauty and her feminine physique, it speaks of vitality, pillar, energy, and spirituality, among many other adjectives that could qualify her. Oluwatosin Omoniyi writes

 

According to M.B Antevasin, a teacher and scientist, “They are not kidding when they say that mothers are strong women. We need to be strong in more ways than our children will ever know.” Indeed, the strength and uniqueness of a woman can be compared to no other.

They constantly have to deal with lot of issues emotionally, physically and spiritually. Although, to some, particularly men, she is a nightmare of beauty and menace of a being, she is still superlative; a diamond that constantly beats imaginations.

With the many qualities that characterize multi tasking women, it becomes a nurturing tendency that often sets them in leadership positions apart from men. According to Nancy Pelosi, an American politician, “Women are leaders everywhere you look — from the CEO who runs a Fortune 500 company to the housewife who raises her children and heads her household. Our country was built by strong women, and we will continue to break down walls and defy stereotypes.”

Perhaps, it is in this light that Hillary Clinton, wife of former American President in her twitter account describes herself first as a, Wife, Mom,’ and Grandmother.” A description that a Nigerian novelist, non-fiction writer, short story writer and actress, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie found too belittling for her (Clinton) putting into consideration her many positions and contributions to American politics and society. As First Lady of the United States, Clinton played critical role by advocating for gender equality and healthcare reform.

Her marital relationship came under public scrutiny during the Lewinsky scandal, which led her to issue a statement that reaffirmed her commitment to the marriage.

Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton, 71 is an American politician, former diplomat, and First Lady of the United States from 1993 to 2001. She also served as the junior U.S. Senator from New York from 2001 to 2009 and as the 67th U.S. Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013. Running for president in 2008, she won far more delegates than any previous female candidate, but lost the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama.

During her tenure as U.S. Secretary of State in the Obama Administration from 2009 to 2013, Clinton responded to the Arab Spring by advocating military intervention in Libya. She helped to organize a diplomatic isolation and international sanctions regime against Iran in an effort to force curtailment of that country’s nuclear program. Upon leaving her Cabinet position after Obama’s first term, she wrote her fifth book and undertook speaking engagements. Clinton made a second presidential run in 2016. She became the first female candidate to be nominated for president by a major U.S. political party.

She lost the presidential election to Republican opponent Donald Trump despite winning a plurality of the popular vote.She received more than 65 million votes, the third-highest count in a U.S. presidential election, behind Obama’s victories in 2008 and 2012.

Following her loss, she wrote her third memoir and launched Onward Together, a political action organization dedicated to fundraising for progressive political groups.Going by the above brief description of Clinton, it was only normal for Adichie to react in that manner that most Nigerians misconstrued. Adichie to Hillary; “In your Twitter account, the first word that describes you is ‘Wife.’

And then I think its ‘Mom,’ and then it’s ‘Grandmother.” “And when I saw that, I have to confess that I felt just a little bit upset. And then I went and I looked at your husband’s Twitter account, and the first word was not ‘husband,” Adichie said.

Adichie was trying to, perhaps emphasis what Martina Navratilova, tennis player, said that, “I think the key is for women not to set any limits.” Adichie didn’t want Clinton whom she believed limit herself statue way too below her capacity especially as a woman of many diversities.

She was curious as to why with all of Clinton’s career accomplishments; did her Twitter bio primarily identify her as a “Wife”.Luckily, Clinton understood her unlike many Nigerians who took Adichie to the cleaners. Swiftly, Clinton indulged her by changing her twitter account to her critique specification!

“When you put it like that, I’m going to change it,” Clinton said, prompting roars from the crowd. However, Clinton explained that for why ‘Wife’ kicked- off her bio, which is that women should be able to celebrate both their accomplishments and their relationships.

According to Adichie, But the truth is that we were supposed to be having a ‘conversation,’ the context of our conversation was personal and warm, I had made the decision to speak from the heart.

It would be dishonest to pretend that I had not reacted personally to so many issues around Ms. Clinton, whose life has become a kind of crucible of all the questions that affect women.”

She explained that, “towards the end of our conversation, I told her how, having read her writing about her own life, I think she has a great love story with Bill Clinton. A wonderful friendship. I said I feel irritated and protective of her when people dissect her personal life, but I also confessed to having an interest myself, particularly about her public Twitter profile. (I first noticed it when I was researching a piece about her during the presidential campaign).

I was upset that the first word used to describe her was ‘wife.’ Was it a choice she had made or was it something done for her campaign and, if it was a choice she had made, did she think my reaction to it was fair?” She noted.

Adichie continued, “Her response was very thoughtful. I was too excited, emotional, slightly nervous, to be on stage with this remarkable woman. Had I kept in mind how easily outrage-mongers would jump on a headline, I would have phrased my question better. I would not have made it about my being upset, because it can come across as navel-gazing.”

Reacting to the interview, some Nigerians felt she took her feminism too far, adding that the question was intrusive and Hillary has a choice on her view on being addressed as a ‘Wife’.

Some others argued that the question was necessary for women to understand that they have to celebrate their achievements, not just on the home front, just like men. Some of the reactions: Popular blogger Linda Ikeji wrote @lindaikeji: I’m a big advocate for women empowerment, rights and independence but when I do marry, I’d proudly describe myself as a wife & proudly add my husband’s name to mine.

“Proudly! if you don’t believe in that as a woman, that’s fine too #differentstrokesfordifferentfolks,’’ @Linesandtimes tweeted, “Chimamanda said she was a bit upset by Hillary Clinton’s bio. Her intolerance for anything that does not align with her idea of feminism is really tragic. “A woman can be defined as anything she wants to be seen as, what’s important is that it’s her choice.” @Txtwistatornado wrote, “Lol I read the article, and I think it was great.

I don’t think she disgraced Nigeria at all. “She got Hillary Clinton to reevaluate the message she sends to women. I believe in a happy medium as a woman so I’m good with this interview.

IMO” @SeunxTemi tweeted, “Not going to read all these. This is someone’s personal life Chimamanda thinks she has the right to criticize in such an unwarranted manner.

“Hilary Clinton is a Queen and what her bio states shouldn’t diminish her numerous accomplishments.” @Realcalmday said, “If Hilary Clinton had a problem with what Chimamanda asked her, I believe she would’ve said so. Why are you people carrying the matter on your heads?” @Chinewubeze_mc wrote, “Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie went too far with this her feminism issue during her interview with Hilary Clinton today.” @Pengasonconcept tweeted, “So happy about how Hilary Clinton clarified Chimamanda on the true meaning of feminism.

“Just because a woman is up to the same task as an average man on earth doesn’t stop them from knowing their true responsibilities in life.” News Agency of Nigerian, (NAN) reports that Adichie’s feminism campaign has been a pivotal crux of her writing as her characters centre around powerful women who are usually dwarfed by the patriarchal system in their environments.

In 2017, Adichie released a small book titled – ‘Dear Ijeawele or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions’. Ironically, Adichie may be good and apt in critiquing but seems she is good in being criticised. In her response to one of the critiques whom she claimed she knew, she was mildly acerbic to put it. The #Response Cynicism is ugly. It doesn’t flatter anyone. Yours doesn’t suit you at all.

I remember you vaguely; I think you were in my class in primary school. And now you claim to be my ‘family’ and you are asking me to shut up. Did you watch the video of the conversation? Did you read a full transcript? I am tired of Nigerians who read a headline and, without bothering to get details and context, jump on the outrage bandwagon and form lazy, shallow opinions. I am tired of Nigerians cynically thinking of anybody in public life as a ‘brand.’ No, I am not a brand. I am a person who feels strongly about certain issues. I choose to talk honestly about them.

I made the choice to talk about feminism knowing very well the kind of hostility it brings – but I think it’s important and I will continue to speak my truth and hope to bring about some change, no matter how small.

Adirom agba egwu ka m data ego. No, of course you don’t actually deserve a response, but I have some free time today. So I want to make you feel a little important because it sounds like you need it.

And I want to reflect on an absolutely lovely hour spent on stage with Hillary Clinton. I was happy when I was told that Hillary Clinton had specifically requested to be in conversation with me at the PEN World Voices festival. I am an unapologetic fan of Ms. Clinton’s. I have been for many years.

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