You might be reading the word misogynoir and wonder if it’s a typo, but the term was coined in 2008 by Moya Bailey, an African American feminist, and scholar, with her book, Misogynoir Transformed: Black Women’s Digital Resistance coming out this May. The term uniquely describes the kind of anti-Black racism that Black women face. The topic of misogynoir is deeply important when it comes to the intersectional approach regarding feminism. She describes how the word misogynoir is a representation of how race and gender cannot be disentangled from each other, further pushing the importance of intersectionality when it comes to issues that women of color face. If you are just coming across this term for the first time, it is incredibly important to educate yourself on the true meaning behind it and why it is important to acknowledge it.
The Development of the word Misogynoir
In an interview with MIT News, Bailey describes how she came to the term. She explained how she saw similarities between films and the way Black women are represented in pop culture and the media, oftentimes portrayed negatively and within stereotypes that are untrue. Bailey describes the link between racism and sexism and how they coexist, rather than being additive to one another, she goes on to say that misogynoir speaks uniquely to a generative force that creates these representations of Black women that are very problematic in both digital and in general popular culture. So the word misogynoir is both misogyny and “noir” put together into one word, a representation of how racism and sexism exist together and not separately, and should be treated as such.
What are some examples of Misogynoir?
There are many ways that WOC experience misogynoir in their everyday lives, one that has come to light recently during the pandemic has to do with the treatment of Black women in hospitals since some doctors perceive Black women as having a higher pain threshold. Black women often do not receive the same kind of healthcare that white women do because of this false idea. The racial bias that exists in the healthcare system is a vivid example of misogynoir that is directly harmful to WOC. Not only can this result in poor treatment but also blatant negligence and poor outcomes for Black women who seek medical care. When Black women assert themselves, rather than being seen as “breaking the glass ceiling” or being a powerful woman, she is seen as threatening or dangerous, oftentimes resulting in suppression of emotions. Misogynoir is something that women of color experience every day, whether they are seen as micro or microaggressions, they are harmful.
In her interview with MIT News, Bailey describes the tragic death of Dr. Susan Moore. “Black women have to advocate for themselves in hospitals when it’s their doctor’s job to be advocating for them and their health.” Dr. Susan Moore was a physician with COVID-19 symptoms who died because of the negligence she experienced by her doctors. Her medical team dismissed her symptoms and two weeks later had passed due to complications from COVID-19. Moore’s death is a tragic example of what the consequences are when it comes to the racial bias that exists within our healthcare systems.
What can I do about Misogynoir?
Moya Bailey is coming out with her book Misogynoir Transformed: Black Women’s Digital Resistance this month, and there are many other books written by Black women who actively fight against misogynoir. A few titles you can check out:
– Remaking Black Power: How Black Women Transformed an Era by Dr. Ashley D. Farmer
– This Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jenkins
Lastly, call out misogynoir when you see it. Challenge the mindset that is misogynoir and does not let these aggressions take place. Be an ally to women who experience these forms of oppression and be an active learner and listener. Make your workplaces, classrooms, etc. a safe place and one where misogynoir does not exist. Make spaces for WOC to lead, be heard, and seen rather than speak over them and for them! Bailey calls for better inclusion for POC, space where Black voices are amplified not spoken over, where women can lead. Speak out, speak up and continue to be educated.