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Misogynoir – Redux

By Ellen Black - Comments

Hey, everyone – I’m on vacation. I had planned to write a new blog, but it’s been a strange week. It started with the death of my father. As many of you know, he was not a nice man, but it’s created a strange around my vacation, nonetheless. So, I’ve not written a new blog. Since this blog received great feedback, I’m reposting it honor of one of my personal heroes, Maxine Waters. As a Black woman, she understands misogynoir first hand and I’ll be writing about her in a future blog for my Rebellious and Bodacious Broads series. 

Until next time, I give you my original blog on misogynoir…

Misogynoir is a term created in 2010 by the Black, feminist scholar, Moya Bailey, to address misogyny targeted at Black women. With the recent harassment of Leslie Jones, both on Twitter and through a hack of her professional website, I thought this would be a good time to discuss the extra abuse that far too many Black women have to endure, some publicly; all, painfully. The first troll of Jones was in reaction to the Ghostbusters reboot, which featured female leads. Some men reacted badly to this empowerment, and while all of the actors in this movie received some sexist feedback, the social media attacks on Jones were both misogynistic and racist, comparing her to large, darkly colored animals.

Women know about harassment, as it’s something most of us have had to endure at some point, whether it’s from male co-workers, a friend or family member, or even from people we barely know. Jones didn’t know any of the people who took to Twitter to denigrate her, and I’m sure she has no idea who the people are who hacked her website, publicly displaying personal information, such as a passport and posting, allegedly, nude photos.

Not only does this invasion put her physically at risk, but it attempts to put Jones on a shame pedestal, where she is supposed to take public responsibility for the negative perception some nasty, regressive men have of her. This nastiness happens all the time in the non-celebrity world, as well, where Black women must deal with the fact that they’re too dark, or not beautiful enough, or too mean, or just not likeable.

Kesiena Boom is a Black English writer who breaks down the four tropes comprising misogynoir: The Sassy Black Woman, The Hypersexual Jezebel, The Angry Black Woman, and the Strong Black Woman. Intrinsically, there is nothing wrong with a Black woman being secure and strong, or controlling her sexuality. And, who of us hasn’t been angry about something at some point in time? However, these characterizations diminish Black women, dehumanizing them and portraying them as cartoonish stereotypes, lower than all others. Not right, as Black women are equal to everyone else.

Two young poets, Crystal Valentine, who is the New York City Youth Poet Laureate, and Aaliyah Jihad have created a spoken-word piece, “To Be Black and Woman and Alive,” in which they deal with misogynoir, with one of the stanzas saying:

To be woman and Black is to be magic
Is to be the witch that wouldn’t burn
is to survive the White man with their needles and nooses
And the Black man with their hearts in their knuckles
To be Black and woman and alive is to be resilient
My very existence is defiance

In her book of essays, Letter to My Daughter, Maya Angelou writes to a daughter she never had, but sees in all women, and says, “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”

For we women who are not Black, what can we do to promote Black women? What can we do to put these women on a pedestal of acknowledgement, not shame? No matter what our color, we women need to support each other. Let’s learn from each other and become better for it! I’d love to hear stories from both women battling the nastiness of misogynoir and those who belong to groups that fight against sexism and racism. Please tell us your stories and provide the contact information for groups that are actively working to prevent misogynoir. Use the Comments below to share. Look forward to discussing this issue with all of you. 

 

10 Comments

  • Nicole, it is beyond sad what Black women have to still endure, despite their talent and intelligence. The world can be so unfair. We’ll just have to work harder than we’ve been working to make a noticeable change!

  • N Lewis says:

    As a black woman in her 50’s, I am shocked about what I see. It reminds me of the 80’s work place where black women were harassed and marginalized for being smart (and smart they were!). I am truely saddened.

  • Mari Lynn, I so appreciate your taking the time to read this blog and comment. Misogynoir is an issue that we must all address!

  • Manisha, what a beautiful and true statement – that a society free of racial mindsets is a society of achievement! I agree, completely! We’re not there yet, but we can keep working to make this kind of society a reality! Thanks for supporting the blog!

  • Mari Lynn Young says:

    What a great article, Ellen! You certainly bring such eloquent awareness to an often overlooked issue. Thank you.

  • Manisha says:

    Very well written! And, its not the rockets or technology that defines achievements. A society that is free of racial mindsets is real achievement.

  • So true, Mark. All of us, no matter our color, no matter our sex, must work to stop the horrible misogynoir that Black women have had to deal with for far too long! Racism and sexism are two evils, and no one should have to deal with either one of them, but to have to deal with both is hideous! Here’s to us all working to make a change! Thanks for your support!

  • What happened to Leslie, Danielle, is so wrong! But, sadly, Black women have had to endure more abuse than anyone for far too long! I sincerely hope that people wake up now and change the situation. This change is way overdue!

  • Mark says:

    Great article and very true. Black women do have to endure unfortunate double standards and stereotypes that other women in America or cultures do not. It will take everyone MEN and WOMEN to protect and defend BLACK WOMEN that come under attack in order to change this course.

    Keep up the good work!
    #WEAINTSCARED2TALK
    #WEAINTSCARED2UpliftBlackWomen

  • Danielle says:

    I’m constantly surprised how people can treat others so poorly. Leslie’s abuse has brought some serious issues to light and I’m glad we are discussing things openly these days. It’s still difficult but I’m grateful for your work.

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