Monday, May 16, 2022

Writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on Being Sampled by Beyonce: ‘Her Type of Feminism is Not Mine’

Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is interviewed during the Washington Ideas Forum at the Harman Center for the Arts September 28, 2016 in Washington, DC.
Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is interviewed during the Washington Ideas Forum at the Harman Center for the Arts September 28, 2016 in Washington, DC.

*Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a National Book Critics Circle Award winner for her 2013 novel “Americanah,” says the onslaught of media attention following her sampled appearance in Beyonce’s song “Flawless” was bittersweet…at best.

“Literally every major newspaper in the world wanted to speak with me about Beyoncé. I felt such a resentment,” the Nigerian writer told Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant (via Jezebel) with a laugh. “I thought: Are books really that unimportant to you?”

Inspired by Adichie’s TED talk “We Should All Be Feminists,” Bey used excerpts from the speech for her girl-power track “Flawless.” The author agrees the song opened her up to an entirely new audience, but says the press made it appear as though Bey singlehandedly plucked her out of obscurity.

“Another thing I hated was that I read everywhere: now people finally know her, thanks to Beyoncé, or: she must be very grateful,” Adichie said. “I found that disappointing. I thought: I am a writer and I have been for some time and I refuse to perform in this charade that is now apparently expected of me: ‘Thanks to Beyoncé, my life will never be the same again.’ That’s why [I] didn’t speak about it much.’”

Adichie says she respects Beyoncé and is happy that “Flawless” has sparked conversations about feminism, but adds that she and the superstar have differing views on the subject:

“Her style is not my style, but I do find it interesting that she takes a stand in political and social issues, since a few years,” Adichie told De Volkskrant. “She portrays a woman who is in charge of her own destiny, who does her own thing, and she has girl power. I am very taken with that.

“Still, her type of feminism is not mine, as it is the kind that, at the same time, gives quite a lot of space to the necessity of men. I think men are lovely, but I don’t think that women should relate everything they do to men: did he hurt me, do I forgive him, did he put a ring on my finger? We women are so conditioned to relate everything to men. Put a group of women together and the conversation will eventually be about men. Put a group of men together and they will not talk about women at all, they will just talk about their own stuff. We women should spend about 20% of our time on men, because it’s fun, but otherwise we should also be talking about our own stuff.”

Below, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk that started it all, “We Should All Be Feminists,” followed by its sample in “Flawless.”

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