Back in 2010, Dr. Moya Bailey along with artist, social critic and author Trudy coined the term “misogynoir” to identify an issue that has plagued Black women for years. They define misogynoir as "particular," as it has to do "with the ways that anti-Blackness and misogyny combine to malign Black women in our world." Basically, the term places a simple name on the complexity that is misogyny exclusively geared toward Black women.
The intersectionality that Black women who identify as both a person of color and as female experience is often defined through the eyes of men, who quantify their essence based on stereotypical tropes. "Misogynoir" was coined as a means to address many of these tropes, which tend to arise and exist within the negative conversations that surround Black women.
Toxic masculinity drives misogynoir, and this combination has led to the murders of Black women, flagrant stereotyping and an overall attempt to silence women’s voices. But “misogynoir” is also a word that makes people uncomfortable. By definition, it holds others accountable for actions that exceed the classification of standard misogyny. It addresses the subtle statements that make us side-eye rappers, and question the intentions of white allies who claim to support the Black community.
So how does this term address Black men, as well as the Black women who enable this sort of behavior? Some people believe that Black women are more likely to go to bat for Black men than Black men are willing to do for Black women. We see this in daily casual conversations about sex, success and gender roles.
What if you’re a Black man who thinks you’re a Black feminist ally? Do your actions align with your words, or are you just falsifying your support as a means to pull girls?
It’s time to check your own levels of misogynoir. If you have any of the following symptoms mentioned in this list, refer to your local Black feminist practitioners: Alice Walker, Bell Hooks, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Audre Lorde and Tarana Burke.
1. Your social media is shady.
Find yourself re-sharing subtle slut-shaming posts on Facebook? Was your Instagram timeline full of #MichaelBrown support, but silent for #SandraBland? Yeah bruh, we see you. The system is real, but it's not only hurting Black men, hun.
2. Your music choices smell like hate.
You rap along a little too fervently when you hear lyrics related to slut-shaming. You pipe up even more when your fave lyricist references gold digging, despite the fact that all that can be found in your pocket is yesterday's lint. Your dating preferences are best categorized as “beautiful black woman, I bet that b***h look better red.” Do better.
3. Your way of complimenting Black women is to ask about their ethnicity and if they are mixed.
Why less Blackness in a woman's blood is something that heightens your attraction to her is something you have to read a couple of history books on. In the meantime, this twist-out and 4C is perfectly bomb to me!
4. You’re still out here stanning for Bill Cosby and R. Kelly.
5. You're steady with your weave-shaming
You stay weave-shaming on social media, but you ignore the fact that every person in your celebrity top-five rotates weaves and wigs constantly. Your selectivity when it comes to who you shun is boringly predictable. We don't judge you for still rocking a fade.
6. You think Black women are just 'mad' for no reason.
Every time a Black woman uses her voice to share thoughts on pressing social matters, your immediate response is usually something like, “Who hurt you, sis?” You think any level of enlightenment that a Black woman has in regards to double standards is the result of being scorned in a heterosexual, romantic relationship. It's called the patriarchy, love. Let’s be #woke.
7. You're such the [patronizing] gentleman.
You use chivalry as a way to show off how moms raised you right. You open all the doors and walk on the right side of the street. However, this behavior is also a low-key, weird flex attempt that you use to showcase and establish your male dominance as well as stroke your own ego. Ew — I'd really rather take the check, thanks.
If you've answered “yes” to more than two items on this list, you may be guilty of committing misogynoir — but at least you now have a term to really identify your truth. Watch your words. Consider self-enlightenment through the words of Bell Hooks' Ain't I A Woman: Black Women and Feminism, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's We Should All Be Feminists or Audre Lorde's Sister Outsider. Also, maybe think about going into hiding as you check yourself on the same things that you’ve probably accused white men of doing. When you know what's good, step out and act like it.