Award-winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie met with the press yesterday to discuss the return of her writing workshop and, during the press conference, she talked about religion and how it relates to feminism.
The Americanah author explained that the stories in the bible were rooted in particular cultures and the Jewish people at the time were patriarchal. But Jesus Christ came and began treating women with a certain degree of respect that was alien to the Jews, thereby making a point that everyone is equal in the sight of God.
When you use the bible to justify what in my opinion is injustice, the problem with this is that, I want to then ask you, let’s talk about the new testament, let’s talk about Jesus Christ, because, in general, Christianity really is about the coming of Christ.
Now, let’s, actually look at the bible. And it’s important also when you, you know, you selectively pick things from the old testament.
If you actually go and read about the history of the bible, you’ll start to understand that the stories are rooted in particular cultures.
Now, look at Jesus and look at… let’s look at how Jesus treated women.
Jesus came from a society that was very patriarchal. The Jewish people at that time did not give any regard to women, like many cultures all over the world.
Jesus came, and suddenly Jesus is treating women as though they’re his equals. Jesus is talking to women. And the old-fashioned Jewish people were scandalized. Because they were like, how can you be giving women this kind of honor. But Jesus is making a point there.
When Jesus rises from the dead, the central message of Christianity is that Christ has risen. That’s the central message. That’s why Easter is really the most important part of Christianity.
When Christ first rises, who gets the message that he has risen?
The audience responds:
And she continues:
That’s a very very important symbol, which people like to overlook because it’s important for us to selectively pick the parts of the bible that justify our own prejudices. And if you really want to talk about the old testament, then I have many things that I want to point out to you that you’re not doing that the old testament says that you should do.
A member of the audience pointed out that men and women were created differently, therefore it is flawed to say they are equal.
If God created a man with 9 ribs and a penis and then he created a woman with 7 ribs and a vagina, it’s not balanced from the beginning. So the argument that a man and a woman should be equal is never going to be balanced.
If God wanted us to all be equal, he would have created us as hermaphrodites.
In reply, Chimamanda explained that men and women are indeed different, but equal.
When you say equal, I think it’s important for you to understand that when people say men and women are equal, people are not saying men and women are the same, because, obviously, we are not.
If we were the same, then we wouldn’t even have the problem we have. Because the reason that women have been opressed and suppressed and subjugated is because they’re different from men. And when I say ‘different’, I mean biologically different. Obviously, you talked about vaginas and penises.
When we say men and women are equal, we say that men and women, have… should have – because they still don’t – equal opportunities in all spheres of life. That you should not, because somebody is a woman, say that she cannot do something, or that she cannot be something. That’s what we mean by equality.
Now, we’re talking about equality of the sexes.
There have been movements for other kinds of equality. So, in parts of the West, there’s a movement for racial equality.
Nobody tells black people, nobody says to them, ‘Does this mean you want to be white?’ or ‘Do you think you’re the same as white people?’
You’re Black and you’re White but the point is that you have equal access. That’s what this conversation is about.
Listen to the audio below. Slide to listen to her talk about religion and gender equality.