Chimamanda had asked Hillary if it was her choice to identify first as a wife, according to her Twitter bio, and why, if she did choose to.
While interviewing Hillary Clinton at a PEN World Voices Festival lecture at the Cooper Union in Manhattan on Sunday night, Chimamanda asked the former Democratic presidential candidate why, with all her career accomplishments, she chose to be primarily identified in her Twitter bio as a “Wife.”
In your Twitter account, the first word that describes you is ‘Wife.’ And then I think it’s ‘Mom,’ and then it’s ‘Grandmother’. And when I saw that, I have to confess that I felt just a little bit upset. And then I went and I looked at your husband’s Twitter account, and the first word was not ‘husband.’
Bill Clinton’s Twitter bio leads with, “Founder, Clinton Foundation and 42nd President of the United States.” There was no mention of his marital status, neither did he add that he’s a father.
Adichie said she wanted to know if it was Clinton’s choice to first identify in relation to her husband, and if so, why.
And Hillary Clinton replied:
When you put it like that, I’m going to change it.
Clinton’s response prompted roars from the crowd. But she had a good explanation for why she started by describing herself as a “Wife” in her Twitter bio. She said that women should be able to celebrate both their accomplishments and their relationships. She told a story about hearing the former US First Lady, late Barbara Bush speak at Wellesley in the early 1990s.
Quoting Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton said:
She said, you know, at the end of the day, it won’t matter if you got a raise, it won’t matter if you wrote a great book, if you are not also someone who values relationships.
And though Barbara Bush got a standing ovation after that speech, Hillary Clinton told Chimamanda Adichie and the PEN crowd she’s not sure Bush was right.
It shouldn’t be either/or. It should be that if you are someone who is defining yourself by what you do and what you accomplish, and that is satisfying, then more power to you. That is how you should be thinking about your life, and living it. If you are someone who primarily defines your life in relationship to others, then more power to you, and live that life the way Barbara Bush lived that life, and how proud she was to do it.
But I think most of us as women in today’s world end up in the middle. Wanting to have relationships, wanting to invest in them, nurture them, but also pursuing our own interests.
Celebrities and Social media users didn’t quite agree with Chimamanda ‘s question, criticising her for the question.
Freeze also made time to to write an open letter to her-
Dear Chimamanda, I used to be a huge fan until I read your interview with Hillary Clinton.
Now I’m somewhere in the vesica pisces, torn between the enormous respect I had for the quality of your work and anger for what you are beginning to brandish.
Let me set the record straight, I am not a fan of Hillary Clinton, so I’m not jumping in as her guardian angel. As a matter of fact, I completely disagree with most of the decisions she took while in office.
Besides this however, woman to woman, what Hillary has achieved, in my opinion, you NEVER CAN, ‘no be beans’, so you suggesting how she should be addressed is what we Yorubas call ‘Iwosi’.
Even Obama refers to himself as a dad first, husband second, so what’s your point exactly? Why can’t Hillary be addressed as wife first, if she so chooses?
Could your utterances be stemming from inadequacies you need to attend to? You might consider investigating this.
Now, let me warn you, there are no dividing forces greater than color, race, gender and tribe. These factors continue to ensure humanity remains segregated. This table you are shaking has vast consequences even you didn’t bargain for.
People have been over the last two years, urging me to preach about Jesus being black and I never have, do you know why? Because I DONT CARE ABOUT HIS COLOR, it’s irrelevant, I care about HIS MESSAGE!
In the same vein, I follow you simple because of your message, NOT BECAUSE OF YOUR GENDER OR COLOR OR TRIBE. So kindly keep the focus on the message, which in my opinion is excellent.
Don’t mar it by demarcating yourself into a ‘gender’, unless of course you are employing this as a marketing tool, which, please be warned, has its own repercussions! ~FRZ