10 car pile-up at the intersection

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wrote an essay.

In a lengthy essay published on her website on Tuesday, Adichie accused a former student of publicly attacking her after a 2017 interview in which Adichie said, among other things, “I don’t think it’s a good thing to talk about women’s issues being exactly the same as the issues of trans women.” Adichie held up the personal feud as a cautionary tale about how social media has been used by “certain young people” as an ideological battering ram rather than a place to communicate and seek understanding.

Let’s read some of what she said:

After the workshop, I welcomed her into my life. I very rarely do this, because my past experiences with young Nigerians left me wary of people who are calculating and insincere and want to use me only as an opportunity. But she was a Bright Young Nigerian Feminist and I thought that was worth making an exception.

She spent time in my Lagos home. We had long conversations. I was support-giver, counsellor, comforter.

Then I gave an interview in March 2017 in which I said that a trans woman is a trans woman, (the larger point of which was to say that we should be able to acknowledge difference while being fully inclusive, that in fact the whole premise of inclusiveness is difference.)

And you know what happened next: the former student trashed Adichie on social media.

Of course she could very well have had concerns with the interview. That is fair enough. But I had a personal relationship with her. She could have emailed or called or texted me. Instead she went on social media to put on a public performance.

It’s so much more fun that way.

Back to the Times:

The conflict escalated last year, after Adichie defended an essay by the Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling about sex and gender — a piece that her critics seized on as transphobic — as “perfectly reasonable.” Emezi posted a lengthy Twitter thread, saying that when their* former teacher “said those things and then doubled down and then mocked those of us who called her out (she called the response ‘trans-noise’), I was gutted.”

Adichie’s essay appears to be the first time she has publicly addressed the feud, tying the personal attacks to what she describes as a larger social and cultural problem of moral self-righteousness and reflexive attacks on those with differing views, and the corrosive effect those stances can have on unfettered debate and discussion. “We have a generation of young people on social media so terrified of having the wrong opinions that they have robbed themselves of the opportunity to think and to learn and to grow,” she wrote.

But at least they’re infinitely intersectional.

*Emezi uses customized pronouns

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