What is 'Misogynoir' and Why is it Important?

Her name is Tiarah Poyau. On Tuesday, September 6th, I found out a young Black woman who was my same age was fatally shot in the face for doing what I had just done the night before in Madrid, Spain. I was reminded what it meant to not only be a woman, but to be a woman of color, to be a Black woman who commands ownership of her body. To be vocal, resilient, and push back towards the objectification and entitlement over our bodies. I fought with the reality that as much as I want to go off on men who don't understand NO or "I'm not interested", by doing so, whether politely or not, I could be next on the list of women who died due to fragile masculinity. Rape culture, misogyny, racism, respectability politics, and extremely fragile masculinity are issues Black women experience differently than women of other races.

Misogynoir is a term that has come to life in recent years to describe the specific oppression that Black women face on multiple fronts.

It’s 2016 and you still haven’t heard of Misogynoir? Let’s talk about it.

Misogynoir is a term that has come to life in recent years to describe the specific oppression that Black women face on multiple fronts. It is said that Black men will face racism, white women will face sexism, yet Black women will face both and still go unrecognized. Despite statistics that we are leading in both education and in entrepreneurship, misogynoir still sneaks in to dim the light and brilliance of Black Girl Magic.

A couple of months ago I asked a Black man, “what oppression do you face as a man”. He responded “Well as a Black man...” I stopped him right there and repeated, “what oppression do you face as a MAN, on the basis of your manhood?” He paused and couldn’t pinpoint any oppression due to that attribute. I proceeded to explain that THAT is the difference. Of course we cannot separate our identities, nor can we separate our oppression. They are intertwined. However, combining the oppression of all Black men and women is highly dismissive and traumatic for Black women. It denies a part of our identity that also deals with trauma. It denies the harm we face as women and that in itself is oppressive. The same could be said for white women who don’t recognize our differences.

The giver of Misogynoir can range from the “educated hotep”, all the way to your favorite white feminist. It’s exemplified in a Black man’s ability to praise Malcolm X yet in the same breath shame Korryn Gaines. It’s society’s shaming of Black women for their “attitude”, yet labeling that same behavior as sass in a Latina woman.

Misogynoir can be seen in white women’s refusal to stand in solidarity with the many Black women who have been slaughtered by police officials, yet their public outrage at Kanye West for interrupting Taylor Swift.

Misogynoir is not limited to just women in the Black community. The oppression extends to young Black girls as well. Some recent popular misogynoir moments can be highlighted in the objectification of Patrice Brown’s body, the Atlanta school teacher who went viral as the sexiest teacher but soon after was shamed for essentially not hiding her curvy body. Another example was the constant comparison of Blue Ivy to North West and the bullying of Blue from everything to her beautiful wide nose to her coily hair.

I encourage Black women everywhere to be resilient in the unique challenges we face. Remember that as a Black woman we are constantly objectified. We are oftentimes looked at as if our bodies are our only notable asset, yet and still we rise as seen globally with #BlackGirlMagic. However, believing that the Black woman is lesser is a global sentiment, therefore even when people are in awe of the Black woman, some don’t value us as worthy to even say “NO” to their advances.

Challenge this.

Continue to be a carefree Black girl. Continue to show your magic. Continue to support the weird Black girls, the loud Black girls, the queer Black girls, the ghetto Black girls, and all the Black girls in between. Continue to uplift Black women who resist misogynoir and live in their truth. Lastly, don’t ever be so Black that you forget to be woman. Protect your woman. It is as much a part of you as your melanin. 

Regennia Johnson is a 21 year old Black woman attempting to decolonize and disengage from the system that tells her she isn’t worthy. She loves Black people. She hates white supremacy and all of it’s amazingly organized systems. She is an alum of the University of Oklahoma and founder of Polish&Politics, an initiative that challenges the rhetoric surrounding Black women. Over the years Regennia has developed a special love for traveling and currently resides in Madrid, Spain. You can follow her on Tumblr @polishandpolitics.tumblr.com | Instagram: @simonsaysgennia & @polishandpolitics | Facebook: Regennia Johnson