What Being a Feminist Actually Means, According to the Woman Who Inspired Beyoncé to Become One

This article was originally published at Revelist.

Feminism is having a moment: Everyone from Barack Obama to Ivanka Trump is hopping on the bandwagon. While the rising profile of women's rights is great, it gets hard to separate the heart-felt feminists from the trendy ones. For a decisive definition of the buzzword, Revelist turned to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie — the award-winning Nigerian author who once taught Beyoncé what feminism means. 

Revelist asked Adichie for her definition of a true feminist at a United Nations event on August 19.

"Being a feminist means having a major problem with the way gender functions in the world," she responded, "and not just having a problem, but wanting to fix it; wanting to act."

photo: Revelist/Emily Shugerman

And act she has: In the last three years, Adichie wrote a book exploring race and gender in America, skewered the Trump campaign in a story for The New York Times Book Review, and gave a TED Talk on feminism that's been seen almost 3 million times.

She also recently spoke out against sexism in the presidential election. In an interview with People, Adichie said it's gender-biased for commentators to call Hillary Clinton robotic and uncharismatic, and criticize her for not smiling enough.

"There's a lot that goes into the way that the public engages with her that would not happen if she weren't a woman," she told People.

However, the thing she's most disappointed about in this election has nothing to do with sexism.

"I just feel bad that Hillary Clinton doesn’t have a real, proper opponent, because I think she deserves one," she told Revelist.

Adichie believes winning against a proper opponent would be a much more "delicious" victory for the first female major party nominee. But the "Americanah" author said she is confident that Clinton will be the next president, no matter how unsatisfying the victory may be. 

Revelist spoke with Adichie before she gave the keynote speech at the UN's World Humanitarian Day's "One Humanity” event on Friday, less than two months after giving birth to her first child. 

The MacArthur genius grant-recipient has been notably quiet about her pregnancy, but she spoke candidly with Revelist about how motherhood has changed her perspective of the world.

"It just makes you really long for all the cliché things we talk about: peace in the world, justice and such," she said. "Because suddenly you love someone else more than yourself and you want the world to be a better place for that person."

And if there's anyone who can make the world a better place, we'd put our money on Adichie. 

This article was originally published at Revelist.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card


Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.