In her 2013 single "Flawless," Beyoncé sampled a speech given by award-winning Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie entitled "We Should All Be Feminists." The internet was awash with thinkpieces discussing the pop star's "newfound" feminism or, conversely, the lack thereof.
The author was recently asked about the the song by Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant ahead of the Dutch translation of her TED talk. "'In the first place: of course Beyoncé asked permission to use my texts, and I did give her permission," Adichie said. "I think she's lovely and I am convinced that she has nothing but the best intentions. In addition, Beyoncé is a celebrity of the first order and with this song she has reached many people who would otherwise probably never have heard the word feminism, let alone gone out and buy my essay."
Adichie told de Volkskrat that she was shocked at the response from the press regarding her involvement, particularly by the number of interview requests she received about the video: "I felt such a resentment (laughs loudly). I thought: are books really that unimportant to you? Another thing I hated was that I read everywhere: now people finally know her, thanks to Beyoncé, or: she must be very grateful. I found that disappointing."
"Still, her type of feminism is not mine," she said. "As it is the kind that, at the same time, gives quite a lot of space to the necessity of men. I think men are lovely, but I don't think that women should relate everything they do to men: did he hurt me, do I forgive him, did he put a ring on my finger? We women are so conditioned to relate everything to men. 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."
She went on to conclude her comments by praising Beyoncé for taking a political stand and "portray[ing] a woman who is in charge of her own destiny, who does her own thing."
In a 2013 conversation with author Zadie Smith, Adichie briefly touched on questions from cultural commentators on the validity of Beyoncé's feminism. "I think the world views [Black women] differently and how things are read differently," Adichie said. "Beyoncé, so she chooses to own her sexuality and there’s somehow something bad, just deeply bad about it. It just seems to me like the White version of Beyoncé wouldn’t have that kind of response."
Read the full conversation here and watch Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's "We Should All Be Feminists" TED talk below.