Ashleigh Atwell

Ashleigh Atwell: We should all be intersectional feminists

Since my last piece, at least three more transgender women have been killed.

I wrote about how allies need to do better to ensure the safety of our transgender siblings. My article was one of hundreds that have been written about this topic, but some people don’t seem to get it. Despite having Google at our fingertips, people choose to be willfully ignorant.

Once of those people, sadly, is writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. In early March, she gave an interview during which she said, “I think if you’ve lived in the world as a man with the privileges that the world accords to men and then sort of change gender, it’s difficult for me to accept that then we can equate your experience with the experience of a woman who has lived from the beginning as a woman and who has not been accorded those privileges that men are.”

The backlash was swift. She went on to publish a lengthy Facebook post and refused to apologize because she felt like she didn’t do anything wrong.

“What’s interesting to me is this is in many ways about language and I think it also illustrates the less pleasant aspects of the American left, that there sometimes is a kind of language orthodoxy that you’re supposed to participate in,” she wrote. “And when you don’t, there’s a kind of backlash that gets very personal and very hostile and very closed to debate.”

That statement sounded close to GOP logic, but nonetheless, it was disappointing.

Like many, I wasn’t introduced to her until I heard a snippet of her speech on Beyonce’s “***Flawless.” Although I am a card-carrying member of the Beyhive, I was interested to know more about the voice behind those words. I’ve been casually following her career ever since. It was nice to see a black woman, especially an African one, get credit for her work and her assistance in bringing other sisters into feminism, even at a basic level.

That said, a huge part of feminism is a willingness to grow and learn. I’ve messed up plenty of times to get where I am now. I’ve been problematic and still am, but I am willing to own up to my mistakes, even if I don’t understand them at the time. Adichie’s refusal to apologize displays an unwillingness to learn that leaves a horrible taste in my mouth. Weapons are only a small part of what is killing trans women. Ignorance and hatred chooses the direction of those items. I don’t think Adichie is disposable, as the kids would say, but sista girl has a long way to go. She once said that we should all be feminists. She was-half right. We should all be intersectional feminists.