Misogynoir Monday

By Shamaka Schumake and Francisco Luis White

Misogynoir is a term used to describe the unique oppression experienced by Black women. Anti-blackness and misogyny are both global phenomenon, and as such any race or gender may perpetuate misogynoir. However, the term is only appropriate to describe the oppression experienced by Black women. This term was coined by queer Black feminist scholar, Moya Bailey of Northeastern University. She first used this term in her essay for the Crunk Feminist Collective titled,  ‘They Aren’t Talking About Me’. In the article she casually drops the term, summarizing the particular brand of oppression experienced by Black women in media and hip hop culture. Credit for developing the lexical definition of the term is given to Trudy of Gradient Lair, who also went on to coin the term “transmisogynoir” which describes the experience of Black femmes who are trans. According to Trudy’s website, “her early work on this term, which came after Moya's initial work (and according to Moya Bailey herself), is why this is a term used in mainstream media and academia today as a way to understand Black women's experiences with oppression.”

In my life misogynoir typically shows by being silenced and marginalized within movements that I do significant amounts of work. As an advocate of both black liberation and a feminist I find it less than amusing that the most iconic figures in this current iteration of the civil rights movement are cismen, despite the fact that queer and trans women both do most of movement building and sustaining work.  

Misogynoir shows up most often in this arena by insisting that we frame Black liberation in terms as it relates to Black men, and feminism as it pertains to western white women. I feel this invisible pull to choose my gender or race often times. White women want our solidarity on issues that heavily affect them like equal pay, but fail demonstrate similar solidarity with regards to police brutality or environmental justice; they do this by declaring that these are not feminist issues. It is being excluded from the sisterhood that is supposed to lead to liberation because of another set of equally resistant biases. Black men want us to continue to stand with them against police brutality without talking about how dangerous they are to black women, especially trans and gnc femmes. The level of violence against black femmes committed by black men is astounding. I find this form of misogynoir most painful, when our brothers, fathers, our family fails to recognize the fullness of our humanity.

Manhood in the American context is inextricably linked to whiteness. You'll find many men who have superficially divested from masculinity remain invested in misogynoir as a method of retaining their power and status as men. In America and likewise most of the world, to be a man is a constant and often violent putting in place of those who are not, especially for Black men who have been stripped of dignity and power and for whom validated manhood or even validated humanity is aspirational. Black women and femmes have always been the mistaken enemy whom Black men have misguidedly fought to reclaim that stolen dignity and power and whom they have ultimately fought for their freedom.