Renowned writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie had a chat with former US first lady, Hilary Clinton at a PEN World Voices Festival lecture at the Cooper Union in Manhattan on Sunday night. Adichie, during the interview took the opportunity to confront the former Democratic presidential candidate, Why, with all of Clinton’s career accomplishments, did her Twitter bio primarily identify her as a “Wife”? In her words;
“In your Twitter account, the first word that describes you is ‘Wife.’ And then I think it’s ‘Mom,’ and then it’s ‘Grandmother,’” Adichie said. “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.’”
In her explanation for why “Wife” kicked off her bio, Hilary told a story about hearing the late Barbara Bush speak at Wellesley in the early 1990s. “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,”
How Clinton responded
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.