Insults in place of engagement

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie points out that the abuse of JK Rowling is classic sexism. One way we can tell is that men don’t get targeted the way she is.

“I think that she’s been treated abominably. And, I think a lot of that treatment is because she’s a woman,” she said. “I think that a man who aired his views, reasonable views, would not be treated in that way.”

Is Graham Linehan perhaps a counter-example? He’s certainly been a target, but JKR gets a lot of specifically sexual/sexist abuse. I don’t think that happens to men the same way.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Adichie told journalist Emma Barnett she thought it was “very dangerous” that people were “refusing to engage with what she (Rowling) said”, but were instead “hurling insults”. 

Adichie said some young people in Lagos, Nigeria, viewed Rowling as “transphobic” and even thought that “she wants to kill trans people”.

But when challenged about where in Rowling’s writing that had been stated or implied, “none of them could point it out to me”, she said.

Similarly, speaking with students on a US university campus, the author said she “felt as though they were repeating party lines”.

Part of the problem, she said, is that the strident opinions of young people are going unchallenged by adults.

Also that strident opinions of people old enough to know better are going unchallenged by people old enough to know better. There’s an orthodoxy-policing thing going on even among people over 19.

The 45-year-old said: “I sometimes feel as though we have abdicated our responsibility as grown-ups because I know what it was like to be young. I thought I knew everything. Now, I look back, I’m like, I knew nothing. I was wrong in many of my sort of fierce positions.”

Same. I’m very confident I didn’t know everything when I was young. Very confident indeed.

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