Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie finally explained why she does not like to speak about her role in Beyoncé’s music in interviews.
Adichie, who has written three novels and a short story collection, first read her essay “We Should All Be Feminists” in a TEDTalk. Her writing has influenced fashion, and she has spoken on how she does not think makeup and feminism are mutually exclusive. But in a interview with Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant published Oct. 7, she said she does not completely agree with Beyoncé’s brand of feminism.
Beyoncé sampled Adichie’s essay in her 2013 song “***Flawless.”
“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller,” Adichie’s voice says over black and white visuals of Beyoncé and some backup dancers. “We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man.”
Adichie told de Volkskrant although she likes how Beyoncé has taken a stand on political issues and portrays a woman in charge of her own destiny, their styles of feminism do not overlap neatly. According to Adichie, Bey’s feminism gives a lot of space to the necessity of men.
“We women are so conditioned to relate everything to men,” Adichie said. “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 per cent of our time on men, because it’s fun, but otherwise we should also be talking about our own stuff.”
Adichie was clear that the artist did ask her for permission to use her words. But she said she felt resentment when media clamored to interview her — not about her own work, but about Beyoncé.
“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.”