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“There is space in feminism for different experiences” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie responds to Critics of her Trans-women Comments

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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has responded to the controversy facing her recent comments on women and trans-women.

She had, in an interview with UK Channel 4, for the promotion of her new book “Dear Ijeawele, Or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions”, said that it’s difficult to equate the issues of women and trans-women because it’s simply not true.

Her comments caused a stir in the media. While some persons agreed with her, others said she should not discriminate between women.

The Half of a Yellow Sun author wrote on Facebook:

Of course trans women are part of feminism.

I do not believe that the experience of a trans woman is the same as that of a person born female. I do not believe that, say, a person who has lived in the world as a man for 30 years experiences gender in the same way as a person female since birth.

Gender matters because of socialization. And our socialization shapes how we occupy our space in the world.

To say this is not to exclude trans women from Feminism or to suggest that trans issues are not feminist issues or to diminish the violence they experience – a violence that is pure misogyny.

But simply to say that acknowledging differences and being supportive are not mutually exclusive. And that there is space in feminism for different experiences.

Photo Credit: Facebook – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

26 Comments

  1. EE

    March 12, 2017 at 10:03 am

    Men, y’all too liberal for me.

    But purely as a function of curiousity, do Trans-men (is that the right tag??) automatically become part of this “patriarchy”, you guys are always on about??? Do they get a pass on their male privilege?? Perhaps they exist in some sort of lacuna.

    I mean technically, they found being women so disgusting they had to fix that by becoming men. So how does that work?? Do you deny them their claimed identities and the privileges therein or not?

    Second Q, doesn’t the above contradict the famous Beauvoir quote, afterall one isn’t born a woman, but becomes one. Trannies just took/take that literally.

    “But simply to say that acknowledging differences and being supportive are not mutually exclusive.”

    Can one for example, acknowledge the difference, that men and women aren’t infact equal, but have a range of abilities across genders. That while being supportive of female rights to civic freedoms, that various affirmative action policies for women are destructive and that modern feminism is an ideology dedicated to the total eradication of male societal dominance, regardless of merit or is that heresy??

    So 3 questions. Note, I am generally curious.

    P.S a prediction. Ms Adichie has already started walking back her statement, she will recant and apologise. Her ideological peer group is so very tolerant.

    • Ada Nneya

      March 12, 2017 at 12:14 pm

      You lost me at “they found being women so disgusting they had to fix that by becoming men”- a typical ignorant comment from a *privileged* cis-gender.

      You have no idea why people who feel misgendered from birth yearn for a different gender. You think anyone would ordinarily want to put their lives at risk and go through the horror cis-genders vent on them just because they are different? Transgenders are hounded, killed in droves and you think they happily ‘switch’ (as your fave put it), just for fun?

      Just shot YO EFFING IGNORANT MOUTH, and listen/read these people’s stories. See what they go through, the misogyny/misandry they go through. Let them tell their stories and may be your dangerously ignorant ass can get cured!

      Your fave fucked up here; this is a point of learning!

      Same writer who scolded a white man for wanting to write about Bengali girls; same writer who think it’s wrong to say you ‘ALLOW’ people to be, rather than accept their RIGHT to be, same witer now thinks she has the right to tell trans-women: “no, you can’t sit with us”.

      Just shut your mouth! Read, learn. I did too. I am a cis-woman and after reading personal stories, I finally realised that the Igbo were never wrong when they said, “Let the kite perch, let the eagle perch. They one which says the other should not, may it’s wing break!”

    • EE

      March 14, 2017 at 5:14 am

      ??????
      Don’t I lose privilege points for being black, African and Igbo???

      “You have no idea why people who feel misgendered from birth yearn for a different gender”
      Neither do you.

      “Transgenders are hounded, killed in droves”
      I don’t think you know what “droves” means, show a source for their differing murder rate.

      “you think they happily ‘switch’ (as your fave put it), just for fun?”
      My fave????? I know I certainly didn’t. Are you replying me or just reading a script.

      “Just shot YO EFFING IGNORANT MOUTH”
      You do know that these are typed words???? Definitely a script.

      “Your fave fucked up here; this is a point of learning!”
      LMFAO!!! You think I like Ms Adichie…..bruh, the irony just might kill me.

      “I finally realised that the Igbo were never wrong ”
      LMFAO, our ancestors killed twins and citizens with infectious diseases, let’s not retconn their tolerance levels.

      So to recap, you didn’t answer my questions nor point out how trannies aren’t disgusted with being female.

      I love being female soooooo much I’ll put my life at risk to become male. SMH, willing to bet that tomorrow you’ll accuse a bleacher of self-hate and internalized racism without spotting the irony.

      Put down the script please, no need to virtue signal here, your ilk haven’t imposed their ideological straitjacket on Nigeria yet.

    • Ada Nneya

      March 12, 2017 at 12:18 pm

      *shut*

    • Mannie

      March 12, 2017 at 1:10 pm

      You’ve highlighted a fundamental criticism of de Beauvoir’s statement and her book “the second sex” in general. As whole. de Beauvoir argued that society confers gender norms on all genders, and each gender benefits from the notions society has bestowed on that person’s gender. Women are not women simply because of their biology, but because of social norms. Hence, gender is a social construct according to de Beauvoir. So, Chimamanda’s statement simply takes a leaf from de Beauvoir and Rebecca Solnit’s manuscript.

      It poses an interesting question on why trans-men people make the decision to transition in the first place. Do they transition because society has always identified them as men (prior to their transition)- hence contradicting de Beauvoir, personal choice, or conforming to biological/psychological pressures? These questions can be flipped the other way to ask in relation to trans-women.

      [It even gets muddier when I go a stretch further and ask: If society has always identified trans-men as men (even prior to transition), does that mean that women benefit from male privilege and are therefore part of the patriarchy?]

  2. Eve

    March 12, 2017 at 10:18 am

    Waiting for the fake Nigerian to jump on this if she hasn’t already in 3…, 2…, 1… ?

  3. Sunshine

    March 12, 2017 at 11:11 am

    Aunty Chi is still learning work after all these years. You are only as famous as the media allows you to be in the western society, my sister. ‘Beyonce style’ feminism and all those strong opinions about being female in Africa will fly because it fits into the western narrative, but the day you mess with their LGBT…you gon learn!

    • Dolly

      March 12, 2017 at 2:20 pm

      Can i like a milli times?
      LOL like literally its all peachy & dandy in the media till you eff around and say sh!t bout the LGBT community, they take no prisoners.

    • Weezy

      March 12, 2017 at 4:48 pm

      CNA will never learn. She will keep doing what she does until one day the entire western feminist canon turns against her. The problem with CNA is that she hasn’t really learned feminism in community. She’s learned it from books and from her telling intimidated nigerians what she thinks and her thoughts just happen to qualify as feminism so far. Its not like CNA has strong feminists friends that are different from her and can call her out of her bs. She strikes me as someone who is the leader and the queen, never the follower. That’s why she and Beyonce for instance can’t be even fake media friends. She must make sure you know that she is better than Beyonce because she is a truer feminist.

      Right now it’s the honeymoon period because there are no other popular media loving Nigerian or African feminists. Those women and men are too busy working and don’t care about fashion. But as soon as a competitor arises whose feminism is more radical and more in line with the western canon, CNA will be discarded.

    • Handfulofcookies

      March 13, 2017 at 12:10 pm

      This is it, the idea of women being mutilated on the shores of some distant African Kingdom even brings joy to the western audience, they can use that message to push for destruction of patriarchy, of course using reasons that do not at all apply to their own society, Such is the disingenuous poison of white feminism.
      On the other hand it is important for Chimamanda to work hard with this message, without offending these groups. As they are clearly powerful in the liberal media, next time she should refuse to comment on trans issues, and that will be message enough.

    • tunmi

      March 13, 2017 at 3:07 pm

      I meant poverty porn. But yeah @Handfulofcookies you are right on that.

    • tunmi

      March 13, 2017 at 3:05 pm

      You guys do have a point. Poverty point is real.

      But these conversations are needed and I think she’ll be around for a while. Many cis-women, women are born female, are in this stage where she is and they identify with her. She’s helping to have conversations around this. And we also will need to have these conversations with our fellow Nigerians and our fellow Africans. Because I’m sure we have trans folks, as we have LGBTQIA+ folks

  4. Nakoms

    March 12, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    Just a day of clap-back and she has started backtracking from her comment. If the clap-back was from her Naija people she will turn up her nose.
    Well the west made her in the likeness of their image and she knows the fame they gave her can be taken back that is why she has to explain

    • David

      March 12, 2017 at 4:29 pm

      I see no backtracking: she is simply offering, in writing, a simplification of her ideals. Whereas the clapback was from Naija people, she may turn her nose up because Nigerians aren’t neceasarily the most reasonable people to engage with. Or are we? I’m not talking about you, Nakoms, when I say Nigerians, but the populace.

    • tunmi

      March 13, 2017 at 3:07 pm

      True.

      Trans in Naija? I’m sure they exist but for their own safety…

  5. Mum

    March 12, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    I don’t think she is backtracking.. take the case of Caitlin Jenner who won the espy woman of the year in less than a year .she transgendered, The experiences I have had born as a woman, caitlyn Jenner will never have it. In this present world, and just as Chi has said, it does not mean excluding trans totally from feminism but “there is room for feminism with divers experiences”.

  6. john

    March 12, 2017 at 9:28 pm

    CNA is an example of a house nigger,the moment the western media get tired of her or find someone better ,they will dump her black ass back in Nsukka

    • Anon

      March 12, 2017 at 11:32 pm

      You should read more. Homosexuality and feminism aren’t western things

    • SeeAnon

      March 13, 2017 at 9:40 am

      It might not be but it is more tolerated in the west than in Nigeria.

    • tunmi

      March 13, 2017 at 3:05 pm

      Haba na wetin? What is wrong with Nsukka?

  7. Ifeyinwa Atuanya

    March 13, 2017 at 10:22 am

    @Sunshine, are you Ifunanya Nwandu?

    • Sunshine

      March 13, 2017 at 4:30 pm

      Lol. Who? No my dear I’m not pls. Thanks.

  8. UZOAMAKA

    March 13, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    @Ifeyinwa, we can all agree that Sunshine is Ify Nwandu!

    • EE

      March 14, 2017 at 5:19 am

      Wow!

      P.S people that “may” know me. Do this to me and well *insert Taken quote*. Not cool.

  9. Ifeyinwa Atuanya

    March 14, 2017 at 11:32 am

    @UZOAMAKA, thanks.

    But I wonder why @Sunshine, “Lol. Who? No my dear I’m not pls. Thanks.”

    There’s nothing wrong with the Nwandu name, if I may add

  10. UZOAMAKA

    March 25, 2017 at 4:23 am

    @Ifeyinwa, yes-we can all agree that Sunshine is Ify Nwandu- really!
    Nwandu is Chimamanda’s in law, and it was scary when you first wrote that. Please I stand to be corrected, I think that- like people that know each other is person might guess right when they meet each other on BN even with anonymous names because the details would be spot on. You know? #runs away

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