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.