The author opened up on rape, raising children, Melania Trump, empathy and a lot of other topics.
Read excerpts below.
On wanting to tell the truth: I want to tell the truth. That’s where my storytelling comes from. My feminism comes from somewhere else: acute dissatisfaction. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to tell stories. Sadly, I also don’t remember a time when I wasn’t telling people what I think about the world.
On thoughts about raising a boy: If I had a boy, one of the things I would do is not just say it’s okay to be vulnerable, but also to expect him to respect vulnerability. Actually, shaming him into vulnerability is a good idea, because there’s so much about the way that masculinity is constructed that’s about shame. What if we switch that shame around? Instead of shaming boys for being vulnerable, why don’t we shame them for not being vulnerable? I kind of feel — I was going to say I feel sorry for men, but I don’t want to say that.
On raising her daughter: I wrote that [Dear Ijeawele] when I wasn’t a mother and it’s easier to write about a hypothetical child than to write about a real one. The child that book was addressed to is sort of an idea of a child. But having my own — you don’t realize how difficult it is day-to-day to combat negative ideas. Sometimes when you’re raising a child it’s like the universe is in a conspiracy against you. You go to the toy store looking for something not necessarily “girly” and you’re overwhelmed by the pink and the dolls. Even the prayers my daughter got from family members: They’re like, “We hope she finds a good husband.” I’m optimistic that those kinds of things will change but I think about how women are socialized — even the most resistant women still get things under our skin.
On Melania Trump: I look at pictures of her and I see great sadness. I don’t want anyone to be sad, but the idea that she might be sad about her situation is almost comforting because it reminds you that there’s still some sort of humane presence in the private space of the White House.
On being seen as a “feminist icon”: When I started, all I wanted was to write books that somebody would read. I didn’t plan to become this “feminist icon, which is something I feel uncomfortable with. People say, “This is what you’re known for.” But that’s not what I know myself for.
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