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Shallow Apologies and Avoided Identities

rebeccamec's picture

I am so thankful for the discussion we had the other day about feminism as manifested in Adiche's talk and Beyonce's "Flawless." I am further interested in how it is represented in the novel, like rosea. Does Ifemelu consider herself a feminist? Does Obinze? Ifemelu seems fiercely independent, but some of her thoughts about men made me wonder if she thinks her purpose in life is to serve them. Obinze has had some very problematic and sexist thoughts, especially when referring to how sorry he feels for his "good wife" who seems to never be good enough, though she's very pretty. His thoughts aren't blatantly sexist, but have the twinge of sliminess that Margaret Atwood's male characters have. Their thoughts don't sit well with a person who tries to be aware of gender inequalities.

I am also interested in discussing the avoidance and shame about certain identities, particularly immigrant status, mental illness in Nigeria versus America, and Kimberly's white guilt. What does it say about America that immigrants believe mental illness is something only Americans have? Do immigrants believe Americans are too outspoken about their mental illnesses? I think we, as a nation, could benefit from more conversations about mental illness. With regard to national and racial identity, does Ifemelu appreciate being called an American, by an African immigrant, a Nigerian, or a black or white American? does Kimberly, at any point, get over her white guilt and stop feeling the need to assert that she thinks black women are beautiful to Ifemelu?