I feel lonely in my fight against sexism – Chimamanda Adichie

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In a new interview with The Guardian UK Chimamanda Adichie spoke on topics such as feminism, racism, how pregnancy affects women’s growth, the #MeToo movement and women and the culture of likeability.

On the #MeToo movement, she said;

I feel optimistic. But cautiously optimistic. It’s either the beginning of a revolution, or it is going to be a fad. We just don’t know … I do see in women a sense that ‘We’re done, this is it … No.’ and it gives me hope.

On her fight against sexism, which saw her writing about it in Dear Ijeawele: A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions she said she is angrier about sexism than she is about racism.

I don’t think sexism is worse than racism, it’s impossible even to compare. It’s that I feel lonely in my fight against sexism, in a way that I don’t feel in my fight against racism. My friends, my family, they get racism, they get it. The people I’m close to who are not black get it. But I find that with sexism you are constantly having to explain, justify, convince, make a case for.

She continued saying;

To get letters from women, saying ‘you make me feel stronger’ that means a lot to me. It’s a woman in Denmark, it’s an email from a woman in Korea, it’s the woman in Ghana. I can’t tell you how happy that makes me.

On women and the culture of likeability, she said:

Oh my God, all that time wasted [by women wanting to be liked]. It is still very upsetting to me. I don’t care how much societies tell themselves that they are progressive, the kind of criticism that Clinton gets from the very progressive left, I think is terrible. People now say to her ‘shut up and go away’ – that whole idea of silencing women. I kind of like what’s happening to her now, it feels as though that ‘fuck it’ I wish she had said before, she seems to be saying now.

On pregnancy and how it stunts women’s growth, she said:

There are so many women for whom pregnancy is the thing that pushed them down, and we need to account for that. We need to have a clause in every job that a woman who gets pregnant gets her job back in exactly the same way. It’s wrong!

On gender and gender roles, she is of the opinion that gender is a social construction.

I don’t think I’m more inherently likely to do domestic work, or childcare … It doesn’t come pre-programmed in your vagina, right?

On why she is not on Twitter;

“There’s an ugliness about it,” Chimamanda said, referring to the microblogging website, Twitter.

Last year, the Americanah author sparked controversy when she said in an interview on Channel 4 that the experiences of trans women are distinct from those of women born female. A lot of people were incensed by this and called her out for “creating a hierarchy” and implying that “trans women were ‘less than’,” But Chimamanda says that wasn’t her message. “I was not … I don’t think that way.”

The author said she was “genuinely surprised” by the outcry, “because I thought I was saying something that was obvious”. She, however, stands on her mportance of acknowledging difference.

She said:

The vileness that trans women face is because they are trans women – there are things trans women go through that women who are born female will never have to go through … If we are going pretend that everything is the same, how do we address that?

On the wish to be inclusive with colour blindness, saying, “blackness and whiteness are different.”

Yes, we are all of the human race but there are differences and those differences affect our experiences, our opportunities. There’s something about it that I find inherently dishonest.

She continued saying she has been accused of “killing trans women with her words” and, had calls for her books to be burned. She was particularly hurt by the online response from some of her former students on her creative writing workshop in Lagos

She said:

I was told, ‘you’re being shamed’. When somebody is shaming you, you also have to feel ashamed. I just didn’t. I was upset. I was disappointed

She feels her “tribe”, those “generally of the left, who believe in equal rights for everyone”, let her down.

“I thought surely they know me and what I stand for,” she said.

On her “major sin” she said it was that she “didn’t abide by the language orthodoxy”.

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