One of the Black women that should be on your radar is Moya Bailey. Known for creating the term Misogynoir, Bailey defines it as the intersection of racism, anti-Blackness, and misogyny that Black women experience. The term is specific to Black womanhood, as Misogynoir cannot be experienced by women of any other race, but can be perpetuated by people of any gender or race. Similarly, racialized misogyny towards Black trans women is called ‘transmisogynoir.’
Bailey first used the term in an essay titled, ‘They Aren’t Talking About Me’ for the Crunk Feminist Collective. She defines it as a “word I made up to describe the particular brand of hatred directed at Black women in American visual and popular culture.” Examples of Misogynoir include the rejection of Black women’s natural hair and ‘twerking’.
In coining and writing about Misogynoir, Bailey speaks of an oppressive experience only she and other Black women share. “I was looking for precise language to describe why Renisha McBride would be shot in the face, or why The Onion would think it’s okay to talk about Quvenzhané the way they did, or the hypervisibilty of Black women on reality TV, the arrest of Shanesha Taylor, the incarceration of CeCe, Laverne and Lupita being left off the TIME list, the continued legal actions against Marissa Alexander, the twitter dragging of black women with hateful hashtags and supposedly funny Instagram images as well as how Black women are talked about in music,” Bailey wrote in a blog post titled ‘More on the Origins of Misogynoir.’ “All these things bring to mind Misogynoir and not general misogyny directed at women of color more broadly.”
Black feminist writers online have widely accepted ‘Misogynoir’ into their repertoire, including Trudy of Gradient Lair (in a piece about Misogynoir and Black men), Aisha Mirza of BlackFeminists.org, and Brittney Cooper of Crunk Feminist Collective (both about Misogynoir in general). Critics of the word claim that it is not etymologically correct, as ‘misogyny’ is a Greek word and ‘noir’ is French. Bailey responded on her Tumblr blog by writing, “I don’t care. I’m far more concerned that I felt like I needed a word to describe the particular f***ery Black women face in popular culture.” She goes on to say that noir also has a media connotation necessary to the meaning of the word.
Misogynoir is a necessary component of intersectional feminism, because it is impossible to liberate Black women of their oppression without first understanding the unique nature of it. ‘Black women’ and ‘women of color are not interchangeable, and any race can perpetuate anti-Blackness. Even other people of color often consider black people the mules of the world. Anti-Blackness perpetuated by other Black people is self-hatred. Lolo Jones’ comments on Rachel Jeantel during the trial of Trayvon Martin is an example of anti-Blackness and Misogynoir.
Moya Bailey is a Black queer writer, activist and scholar. She has written for the Crunk Feminist Collective, AlterNet.com and the Journal of Digital Humanities. Bailey is also a co-founder of Quirky Black Girls, a collective for Black girls who don’t fit society’s standards of the ‘typical Black girl.’