Alagi Yorro Jallow

Chimamanda Adichie is brilliant and a gift to Africa and I love the ethos of her literary oeuvre and cultural identity but why Is Chimamanda now wearing a garb that fittingly describes her as a second wave feminist, or an anarcho-radical feminist, who dismisses marriage as the site of gender oppression?

She is married and she is the wife to a middle-aged man that the world about her knows and describes as her husband, so what is her problem with the noun, wife?

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has asked Hilary Clinton why her Twitter bio begins with ‘wife’, rather than her career achievements. The two were talking at a PEN World Voices Festival lecture at the Cooper Union in Manhattan New York.

“In your Twitter account, the first word that describes you is ‘Wife.’ And then I think it’s ‘Mom,’ and then it’s ‘Grandmother,’” Adichie said. “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’.

So, why was she hung-up about Hilary describing herself first as a wife before other nouns in the bio of her twitter handle? What is really Chimamanda’s problem with the noun, wife? Is it that the noun convokes the image of gender inequality which is often founded within the institution of marriage as second wave feminists or liberal feminists argue?

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I don’t think this is the case because wife is an innocuous noun that merely establishes the marital relationship between a woman and a man. In fact, it highlights one half of naming of two sexes. Hilary is a wife because she is married to Bill Clinton; Bill is the husband because he is married to Hilary Rodham Clinton.

So, what is Chimamanda’s problem? Does the noun diminish Hilary’s agency or capacity to interrogate the forces that create and give life to inequality and oppression? No, I don’t think so as Hilary’s experiences as a wife, mother and grandmother place her in the position to provide an intersectional interrogation of gender inequality and oppression.

What then is Chimamanda’s problem? Anarcho-feminism. Simple. Like Emma Goldman, that anarcho-feminist before her, she seeks the freedom to live for herself, freedom in love and freedom in motherhood, without giving recognition to the depositors of chromosomes. Or the man she shares her love! That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and they become one flesh. Isn’t it the order of things- nature? God isn’t stupid, dear feminists.