Chimamanda Adichie’s views on womanhood and feminism comes under intense scrutiny the second time in three years after her recent interview with The Guardian in which she defends J.K. Rowling’s essay on sex and gender.
In recent months, J.K. Rowling has been battling accusations of transphobia and Adichie coming to her defense was immediately interpreted by media outlets as a controversial and unwise alliance.
In 2017, Adichie stated in an interview with UK’s Channel 4TV that the experiences of trans women and cis women are distinct and that “trans women are trans women.” Her words were met with public disappointment and accusations of transphobia. Brittle Paper documented the controversy as well as a critical response from Jarune Uwujaren, a Nigerian-American trans writer.
This week’s interview with The Guardian reveals Adichie’s reflection on the 2017 controversy and her disappointment with cancel culture and social media. Perhaps to further illustrate the problem with cancel culture, she then adds that JK Rowling’s controversial article on sex and gender is “a perfectly reasonable piece.” “JK Rowling,” she concludes, “is a woman who is progressive, who clearly stands for and believes in diversity.”
Read an excerpt from the interview below:
“There’s a sense in which you aren’t allowed to learn and grow. Also forgiveness is out of the question. I find it so lacking in compassion. How much of our wonderfully complex human selves are we losing?” she asks…She was interested by “all the noise” sparked by JK Rowling’s article on sex and gender, “a perfectly reasonable piece” in her view, earlier this year. “Again JK Rowling is a woman who is progressive, who clearly stands for and believes in diversity.” She blames social media for this rush to censure, which she finds both “cruel and sad.
These comments reopened old wounds in the trans community, particularly those of trans Nigerian writer and former mentee of Adichie, Akwaeke Emezi. In a series of comments posted on Twitter and Instagram (see below), Emezi accuses Adichie of transphobia, even suggesting “deplatforming” her. Emezi also claims that after voicing similar criticisms of Adichie in 2017, Adichie withdraw support from Freshwater (2018), Emezi’s newly released novel at the time.
The debate surrounding this renewed controversy continues as fans await further clarification from Adichie.
Read Emezi’s statement.
Emezi also shared the tweets on Instagram with this accompanying caption: