Misogynoir is the combination of racism and sexism directed towards black women. This term was coined by Moya Bailey, a black queer feminist scholar.
I didn’t learn about the term until about a year ago, but I’ve experienced it all of my life. Recently, I’ve been feeling more emotional about it. Sometimes I have to avoid social media apps like Twitter because it’s filled with misogynoir. I constantly see tweets bashing black women, even by black men. I’ve even seen other black women do it. Some of those tweets get tons of retweets and likes. They get a lot of people in their mentions agreeing with them while black women are left defending themselves. There’s a post I see often where it says “seeing a guy and wondering if he’s into black girls, even if he’s black” or something like that. That is too relatable.
I don’t see a lot of dark skinned women getting representation in the media. Girls like Amandla Stenberg and Zendaya often get the lead roles. Darker skinned women can be cast in roles like being the sassy sidekick or the desperate single woman. Examples would be Nikki Parker from The Parkers or Pam from Martin. Black women are also portrayed as caricatures by black men like Eddie Murphy and Tyler Perry. Even black women who are regarded as sex symbols tend to be lighter skinned or biracial. Examples would be Rihanna and Beyoncé. I will admit that I am starting to see more darker skinned black women in the media now. We still have a long way to go but I am happy that progress is being made. I want little dark skinned girls to see more women that look like them on television.
For years, I would hear rap lyrics of men stating their preferences for light skinned women or “foreign women”. I remember being in seventh grade and hearing “Right Above It” by Lil Wayne. Hearing that line, “Beautiful black woman, I bet that bitch look better red”, still bothers me to this day. Even at school, a lot of boys would state their preferences for lighter skinned girls. I’ve had a few friends say that to me also. I remember a guy telling me that I needed to stay out of the sun because I was already getting “too dark”. Imagine how many black girls grew up feeling like they were “too dark”.
The lack of outrage that black female victims of sexual assault and violence upsets me. Sometimes they don’t even get support from other black women. The first example that comes to mind is R. Kelly. Black women go hard for that man and all of his known victims are black women. While other entertainers are getting called out for their predatory behavior and being blacklisted, R. Kelly is untouched. There is a lack of outrage for the things he’s done and I know that his victims being black plays a part in it. People even make jokes about the things he’s been accused of doing to those women. Another example would be Kenneka Jenkins, a girl from Chicago who had been raped, murdered, and found in a freezer. Her story only received outrage from black people on social media. But there were also people who joked about her death and victim blamed her. Memes were even made about her and pictures of her dead body went viral. The investigation of Jenkins’ murder was closed a few months ago.
Black women are constantly accused of being angry and bitter even when our anger is justified. There are numerous stereotypes about black women. We’re baby mamas, promiscuous, welfare queens, single mothers, hood rats, have no hair, aggressive, and that’s just some of them. Those aren’t just words. They affect how people view us. It affects how we view each other and ourselves. We’re also expected to have big breasts and big butts which can cause body image issues. That body standard also had an affect on me when I was younger.
I try to rise above misogynoir and to not let it affect me. There’s so much negativity in this world that sometimes it’s hard to avoid it. I am much stronger than I used to be. Misogynoir used to make me feel bad about myself. It still gets me upset sometimes, but I will not allow it to make me hate myself. I am not ashamed to be a black woman.