Why Nigerian author Adichie’s essay attacking revival and cancellation culture has sparked controversy

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Celebrity author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie at a 2019 event in Los Angeles | Photo: www.chimamanda.com

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New Delhi: Exactly a year ago, after an intense backlash over her anti-trans tweets, Harry potter Author JK Rowling had written a 3,600-word essay responding to claims of transphobia and being labeled a “trans-exclusive radical feminist,” or TERF – seen as people who do not want to recognize trans rights.

Now it is the turn of another female author, Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who has sought to publish an essay, in response to a backlash from social media when she called herself “transphobic” and TERF.

The author of ‘Purple Hibiscus’ on June 15 trial, “It’s obscene,” has since been drafted, but not before grabbing everyone’s attention, as it also called out the language used by the liberal left-wing ecosystem on social media, especially Twitter, claiming that people “choke on morality” people denounce their friends for the fragile reasons of remaining a member of the “puritan class”.

Incidentally, Adichie had backed Rowling on her views last year.

Arguably Nigeria’s most popular author after Chinua Achebe, Adichie won the Women’s Prize for Fiction, one of the UK’s most prestigious literary prizes, for her 2007 book “Half a Yellow Sun”.

In her three-part essay, Adichie, without naming anyone, called out two of her former students. One of them was non-binary – not identifying with either male or female – a Nigerian writer Akwaeka Emezi graduated from Adichie’s writing workshop. Nigerian author holds annual workshop ‘Purple hibiscus’ where she trains handpicked writers in the art of writing.

Emezi is the author of the critically acclaimed book, “Freshwater,” which was published in 2018. It is not yet clear who the other writer Adichie called out in his essay is yet to be known.

In her closing remarks, Adichie wrote: “I have spoken to young people who tell me that they are terrified of tweeting anything, that they read and re-read their tweets because they are afraid of tweeting anything. ‘be attacked by their own. The good faith hypothesis is dead. What matters is not goodness but the appearance of goodness. We are no longer human beings. We are now angels jostling each other to outdo each other. May God help us. It’s obscene. “


Read also : Adichie’s attack on “awakened language” is relevant. But the right-wing cancellation culture is a real threat


Why Adichie’s essay is controversial

In March 2017, Adichie gave a interview to UK Channel 4 where she said, “When people talk about ‘Are trans women women?’ my feeling is that trans women are trans women.

She went on to say, “It’s (the kind) about the way the world treats us, and I think if you’ve lived in the world as a man with the privileges the world gives to men. , then sort of change gender, it’s hard for me to accept that then we can equate your experience with the experience of a woman who has lived from the start as a woman and who has never been not granted the privileges that are men.

This line of thought has long divided feminists as they debate what really constitutes femininity. One section believes trans women are not women, which is debated by the LGBTQ community and another more progressive section of feminism.

Adichie also said, “I don’t think it’s a good thing to talk about women’s issues which are exactly the same as trans women’s issues because I don’t think that’s true.”

Facing a huge backlash after that, the writer quickly took to Facebook to clarify his position.

“This (the interview) has upset many people and I consider their concerns to be valid. I realize that I occupy this strange position of being a ‘voice’ on women’s rights and there is an automatic import into my words ”, Adichie posted.

“I think the impetus to say that trans women are just like women are women comes from the need to mainstream trans issues. Because by generalizing them, we reduce the many oppressions they suffer from, ”she added.

However, even in the Facebook post, Adichie said this equation was a fallacious strategy for her and that diversity does not mean division. “We can stand up to violence against trans women while recognizing the differences. “

While this apology was accepted by some trans rights activists, it was not by others and the controversy continued.

This debate has gained greater prominence in the UK, where the Equality Act 2010 – which allows trans people to choose the unisex space they want but could be barred from. enter “Whether it can be justified as proportionate” – is the subject of heated debate.

While Rowling had argued that trans women are a “threat” to women in the bathroom because allowing trans people to drive any man under the pretext of being a woman entering a bathroom on her whim to attack their target, others countered that the chances of this happening are statistically low and in fact trans women are more at risk of violence when they are forced to use men’s toilets, and that trans inclusion policies do not jeopardize the safety of the toilets.


Read also : JK Rowling has always been deaf. Just look at the Harry Potter universe


Why this test now?

In 2020, the author of Harry Potter had published an extremely debated essay, “TERF Wars”, after being arrested for making fun of an article that sought to be trans-sensitive by addressing “people who have their rules ”.

Rowling’s essay was later referred to as the “Terf Manifesto”.

Adichie had vocally supported Rowling’s essay and, in an interview with The Guardian in November 2020, called it a “perfectly reasonable room”.

This freshened up the transphobia allegations against Adichie.

In her essay, the Nigerian author alleged that the comments made against her were dismissive as she recalled a particular comment in her essay that said, “This person has created a space in which social media followers have – and this which I find unforgivable – trivialized my death of my parents, claiming that the sudden and devastating loss of my parents a few months apart during this pandemic, was a “punishment” for my “transphobia” “.

Although Adichie didn’t name Emezi, it was obvious she was talking about her writer and alumnus Akwaeka Emezi.

The criticisms of two people particularly touched her. While one was Emezi, the other anonymous person she referred to in her essay was an author, who Adichie said had betrayed her trust and taken advantage of her fame.

Emezi had challenged his former mentor on Twitter for his alleged transphobia.

In a threat on Twitter, Emezi wrote in April 2020: “The year that FW (Freshwater) debuted, I lost the support of a leading writer because of my tweets about them. I agree with that because they were transphobic. Like, by all means, don’t line up. Take off your ring. None of this is by force.

This was followed by Emezi openly calling Adichie in November 2020.

In January 2021, she wrote: “I hope there are others who will pick up machetes to protect us from the evil that transphobes like Adichie & Rowling seek to perpetuate. However, I will be in my garden with butterflies, trying to find a way to befriend the neighborhood crows. Find me on the gram ”

In her essay, Adichie said the “lies” against her had gone too far and that she felt it was time to address the controversies surrounding her. “In the age of social media, where a story travels the world in minutes, silence sometimes means other people can hijack your story and soon their fake version becomes the story that defines you.”

This is the question that led her to write a long reactionary essay, addressing the controversy.


Read also : Enid Blyton was flagged again as ‘racist’ – here is the latest controversy sparked by a UK charity


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