If you follow me on other platforms, you will have seen me bandy about the term misogynoir. The term was coined by Moya Bailey, and if you want to read more about it, there is a truly helpful wikipedia article on the topic. But, to put it in my own terms, misogynoir is the articulation of the intersection of both anti-black racism and anti-woman sexism. In other words, one might understand misogynoir as hatred directed at black women.
When one reads about social justice for any length of time, you start to see common threads through that narrative. And, for the black woman engaged in discussions of social justice there is the pressure coming from two groups: white feminists, who prefer to be called mainstream feminists, that want black women to sublimate the conversation of anti-blackness; and, anti-racists that want to sublimate the conversation of misogyny and gender discrimination. But for black women, and other women of color, our lives and livelihood depend on our ability to articulate how race, gender, poverty and systemic inequity affect our day to day ability to survive. We can’t be quiet about racial injustice, nor can we be quiet about the hegemony of patriarchy. There is simply too much at stake.
But, I want to talk about a particular type of misogynoir, in this piece. But, if you’re tracking with me so far, you understand that I’ve been talking about it for as long as I have had this blog. This type of misogynoir tells black women that they are a worthless commodity, that they undesirable, and that they should compromise their health and their safety in order to secure the good graces of whatever willing male partner they can find that will have them.
It’s based on the scarcity of “good black men”. You know: college educated, haven’t been to jail, good credit score, presently employed, healthy and heterosexual black men that are open to relationships with black women. (And, depending on who you talk to, some of those criteria are negotiable.) We have been told that since these types of black men rare, we should compromise ourselves to get into a relationship with one, and to have one. I have even seen black community organizers (who shall remain nameless for my purposes here) argue that polygamy would best serve the needs of the black community, arguing that how it was practiced in Africa was beneficial for the women in those types of relationships. (Yeah, unless you’re the wife nobody likes, and you find yourself at the bottom of a well. Or, you have another unfortunate “accident”. Ahem . . . . I digress.)
First and foremost, let me be quite clear, somebody need to get the f*@# out of here with that . . . .
Funny how the fact that polygyny, that is one woman having multiple husbands, is also practiced in Africa, and pre-dates European colonization, is rarely discussed in these conversations, as well.
But, the argument ignores the measurable detriment that these types of arrangements have made within the community already. First and foremost, let me state the obvious: these types of mores are why, globally, black women are at higher risk for contracting HIV/AIDS. Whether your talking about Accra, Johannesburg, Nairobi, Charleston or Atlanta, these types of attitudes are contributing to the spread of HIV within the black community. It is decidedly not in our best interests, as women, to accept these types of arrangements.
Moreover, it is also a poison to the spirit and the soul. To tell black women that, because of certain immutable characteristics, they simply have to accept what love is offered to them and make do with it, whether it is the love that they want or not, destroys the self-esteem and self worth of the person settling. Loves, you always have the choice to participate in the loving, regardless of what anyone tells you.
It’s time to call this what it is. It is simply misogynoir, rearing it’s ugly head, again. Don’t believe the hype. Believe in yourself, and believe that it is entirely possible for you to have the love that you want in your life.