Feminism & The Nigerian: Incompatible.

As the famous African feminist Chimamanda Adichie and her best friend fall-out, and fall-over their swords, over whether a trans-woman is a “woman” or just a “trans-woman,” the idea of difference – biological or cultural – and the inclusive politicking it engenders will come and go.

What remains, no matter what, is the rule of capitalism and white supremacism. Bear with me for a moment, I shall explain.

It appears that Chimamanda is still unaware of the implications of her adoption of western feminist politics. She does not understand that the entire feminist grand theory, with which she has become synonymous in Nigeria, is based on the idea of diminishing-differences (biological and other wise) among people.

Mainly that, one cannot accept that there is no difference between men & women, while insisting on differences between women and trans-women (whether biological or not). There in lies Chimamanda’s cluelessness about basic philosophy.

I insisted some years ago that Chimamanda was careless with western doctrine, albeit she served a useful idiot to the enterprise, until she became unpalatable to the same puppeteers of European feminist theory. Instead of apologizing to trans-women (who are women by the logic of the theory), she insisted that there was a difference. Hence the fall-out, and the falling-over the sword.

You see, the grand theory of Diminishing-Difference (or No-Difference) is not new to western thought. In fact, the idea begun with the effort to erase racial/racist irresponsibility: To erase the “color-line” in the United States in particular, and invent the racial idea (through integration) that we are all just human beings.

That is, one can insist that white people don’t see color! White systems don’t see color! And then we can also explain away why Black People are at the bottom of the economic racial hierarchy: That it is not as a result of historical white supremacist terrorism, but as a direct result of Black People’s biological and cultural mishaps as human beings.

We are all human beings after all. Meaning, you will do the same thing as I did to you, if you were me. Meaning that asking for Reparations (or Reparative Justice in the same manner as the Jews) is like asking other human beings for payment for just being human. You see?

The trap in fawning-over western thought is that often, writers like Chimamanda who are not well-trained in European Schools of Thought, become unaware that they are also falling-over their sword. For instance, look at three passages above (within the image): In one sentence Chimamanda quotes a white man without telling us his country or even his color. She quotes this man as if he is a truth-bearer.

Then in the ensuing two paragraphs, Chimamanda indicts all young Nigerians: They are not bright. They are not interested in feminism. They are calculating. They are insincere. They are opportunistic. Except one: The very one that Chimamanda was willing to help. Except one: The very one that Chimamanda found out was the same as all the other ones, and about whom she now writes about as calculating, insincere and opportunistic.

Merry-go-round logic. Which all end heavily on the white supremacist, colonial, terrorist, inventions, mythologies and beliefs about Nigerians, all the while maintaining the racial invisibility/generality/normality of the white man. But Chimamanda is unaware of this. How can she be? She has, after all, for many years, fawned-over western thought, and in particular, she went to bed with western feminism until one day she decided to draw the line somewhere in the sand on trans-women.

Now, her western puppeteers are like, “No, honey. You don’t get to do that and live.”

She has a choice, she can apologize and make amends with them, or she has a sublime opportunity to go back to school, and train as an expert on (African) Motherism, following in the footsteps of Nigerian women/writers, way before her, who were way smarter and way prettier than her. She has a choice to shed her adopted white supremacist belief systems about her own Nigerians. It starts with first denouncing western thought, and then western feminist thought, entirely.

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~ Success is a horrible teacher. It seduces the ignorant into thinking that he can’t lose. It seduces the intellectual into thinking that he must win. Success corrupts; Only usefulness exalts. ~ WP. Narmer Amenuti (which names translate: Dances With Lions), was born by The River, deep within the heartlands of Ghana, in Ntoaboma. He is a public intellectual from the Sankoré School of Critical Theory, where he trained and was awarded the highest degree of Warrior Philosopher at the Temple of Narmer. As a Culture Critic and a Guan Rhythmmaker, he is a dilettante, a dissident and a gadfly, and he eschews promotional intellectualism. He maintains strict anonymity and invites intellectuals and lay people alike to honest debate. He reads every comment. If you find his essays delightful, and you want to support the creation of more content like this, find Narmer's information below: CashApp: $Narmer3100

18 COMMENTS

  1. This is what happens when you adopt other people’s culture and customs. It’s exactly why you should write your own and not be a parrot for someone’s feminism.

  2. Chimamanda does not and has never suggested that men and women are “the same.” Feminism acknowledges difference. We need to reinvent our social tools and our socialization to accommodate changes happening in our settings. The romanticization of traditional gender roles oppresses women living in our day. Men feeling emasculated for doing basic domestic chores and partaking in basic life skills isn’t too hard to comprehend. Tso!

    And beyond these, there’s misogyny enabling way to much violence towards women. In all your critiques of feminism, I never see you discuss violence against women on the basis of your beloved tradition and cultural norms.

    • Otomo Plange Where’s feminism on the reality and historicity of racial/colonial/imperial violence? This is the biggest violence against my kind/culture!
      Western feminism is not concerned with violence, let alone violence against women. To pick apart everything wrong in my culture and presuppose that feminism will fix it is painting in broad strokes.

      Obviously, men cannot have babies. And so besides the obvious, what are the differences between men and women that feminism admits? Enlighten me.

    • 1. And yet, the black man is the biggest oppressor of the black woman. Who is killing black women more? Who is raping the black woman? Who is subjecting the black woman to all forms of harmful narratives? It isn’t a white man doing these things. So there is a place for Black/African feminisms in feminism.

      2. Western feminism and feminism in general is fashioned on the psychological, social, economic, and political violence against women. Maybe listen to feminists more than you assume you know. Where will you place Rape culture, sexual harassment and assault, domestic violence, etc.? Who is fronting these conversations?

      3. Men (biological males) cannot have babies. Aside this, there’s a lot of difference impacted by nurturing and socialization. These differences are very clear. What feminism (our feminism) draws attention to is that some of these ways of being are a product of mere socialization. If you mock a boy for “allowing a girl to beat him in academics in class” what do you end up raising in boys? If you raise a girl to think all she is good for is marriage and childbirth, what do you end up raising in women? These traditional concepts have rendered a lot of gender disparity in professional fields which have got absolutely nothing to do with one’s gender.

      Maybe, just maybe, stop living in pre-colonial moments for a second and come to the reality that women and girls in colonized and gendered Africa experience.

    • Also, there is intersectional feminism that recognizes our layered experiences with oppression. Chimamanda is an intersectional feminist and that brand of feminism recognizes the layer of race, class, sexuality, ethnic, etc., in black women’s experiences with gender-based oppression.

    • The definition of feminism is a shifting goal post. It seems. Every “issue” can also be branded a feminist issue. It is a No-Theory All-Theory of Inequality. That is, the post shifts so much that it is impossible to know what it means and what purpose it wishes to serve except to impose certain myths about Black men (which it seems is the entire project!)

      For instance: White people are the biggest oppressors of black women and men. Who is killing black women more? White people! Better ask, Who has killed Black women more? White people! Who has raped the black woman more? The white man! Who has raped Black men more? The white woman! Who has subjected the black woman and man to all forms of harmful narratives? White people! And I have three full hundred years of evidence!

      It isn’t a white man doing these things? Really! What kind of fantasy are you living?

    • Narmer Amenuti if there is anything, misogyny is rather the enemy of not just original African cultures but the cultures of nearly all advanced societies before the advent of the Caucasian.
      And your narrative couldn’t spare the African woman of the “mother” tag. No! She’s not just a mother, she’s many many things more and she’s also a full person when she’s not a mother.

    • Narmer In my day to day experiences, I deal with more misogyny and misogyny or from black men than I ever do with white men, and I live in America!!! This isn’t to say that black men are worse than white men but it is to acknowledge the fact that although black men suffer racial oppression, male privileges are everywhere and men of all races wield that privilege and enforce it!

    • @Ama. I am not sure but I think you are missing the point. I am speaking only specifically about western feminist thought and its associated colonial, racist, imperial, neoliberal apparatus. I do not subscribe to any type of violence against anyone.
      Chimamanda (feminist or not) just insulted and stereotyped young Nigerians in the same vein as white supremacists, colonialists and imperialists do. That is violent!

    • @Otomo. I am not denying your experiences. I am critiquing an idea, the idea of the heavy-handedness of establishing certain myths about Black/African men through the various theories of western feminist thought. I am insisting that the biggest terrorists in the room are white people, and that the biggest threat is colonialism, neo-imperialism and whiteness. And that without Black men and women, the fight against the terrorists is already lost.

      Chimamanda freely insults and stereypes young Nigerians. That is violent, intended or not. Which goes to show that if the Black man can make mistakes, the Black woman too makes mistakes! We don’t need neoliberal theories, which shifts posts at every whim, to resolve our own problems.

    • Narmer I, in particular will not absolve Chimamanda of some level of responsibility in some of her takes, but I am also looking forward to more and more black men waking up and doing right by their women. We know White people are responsible for every problem in this world, but when are you lot also going to accept that your reinforcement of patriarchy harms us in contemporary times?

    • @Otomo. Of course. I also write about the Metha (the mis-educated than his ancestors), which is more times than not, a critique of the African man in the twenty-first century. We can all do more, but I believe we can self-regulate without inviting/shouldering the debilitating effects (on Black male portrayal) of the colonial/imperialist trojan idea that is western feminist thought. We can be original.

  3. I have never been fans of western feminist politics because of western liberalism in general but no one in good conscience can say that present day Africans don’t need feminism. That’ll be extreme romanticization of our present normative values and I will even go as far as call it delusions. Hey the woman wants the luxury tax on menstrual pads to be taken away, the woman represents the majority 51% of the population and should be represented in parliament and the corridors of power by nothing less than 50%. The woman doesn’t want to be butchered to death in broad daylight by her husband and the first question that comes on people’s minds is “was she mouthy”, the woman doest want to be called names and disrespected even when she’s the more responsible parent who is present and holding the fort for her children to have a fighting chance at life. We could say many many more. We don’t care about the feminist nomenclature; we simply want these solved. You can call it “Saskatchewanism” for all we care, it doesn’t matter, just solve these problems!!

    • Ama Owusuah Boateng Sure, you can highlight problems. And all problems in our culture should be resolved. Feminism is however, a neolibral theory that is tied to the same colonial institutions of imperial control over African lands. We need to separate problems from theoretical neoliberal inquisitions, which are bent on nothing else but to present half of the African population as the reason behind African underdevelopment. If this is not a heinous obfuscation, then I don’t quite know what it is.

  4. I learnt everything I needed to from Chimamanda not only after her comments on trans women but her remarks about white people after the fact.

    She came to London, spoke on a panel and publicly began to relate to white people. She talked about how she understood them now when it comes to the topic of “race”.

    She said that, “this is how white people must feel” and rather than that realisation giving her pause, or making her pensive about her conduct and beliefs and reevaluating her current position within the conversation she was having, she instead decided to empathise with white people and their racial ignorance. it’s been all downhill from there.

    • Inigo Laguda Without first understanding race, whiteness, Anti-Blackness and white supremacism, the new African subscriber to western feminist thought is parochially handicapped. And so was Chimamanda!

      If he/she is not careful they only find problems with their own community. All that ensues from there on is the “calling” to “help” women in Africa, which all too quickly becomes a type of Cultural Racism and a crude implementation of the white saviour trope. The end result is that the new scholar quickly finds him/herself sympathizing and even empathizing with the very terrorists. It is a weird type Stockholm Syndrome.

  5. Inigo Laguda she’s lost the plot but let’s not throw the baby away with the water. She is right about many things. Which is why I pick and choose.

  6. I’ve always said that, she’s only good at putting words together. Underneath those words are pure nonsense. I’ve never been enthused with anything from her.

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