Guest Blog: Misogynoir and Me

Queens of Sheba focuses on the rise of ‘misogynoir’ (misogyny directed towards black women where race and gender both play roles in bias) It is the story of strong passionate women who fight to overcome oppression in a racist and sexist society. Queens of Sheba arrives Tue Oct 10 – Sat 14 Oct, find out more information to book tickets here

By Jessica Hagan                

It’s difficult to write about Misogynoir and Me – the title implies that outside of misogynoir, the ‘Me’ exists but my experiences suggests that the ‘Me’ cannot remember the last time it existed without Misogynoir. The two, unfortunately, come together – As it stands, I cannot be black and I cannot be a woman, in the world that I live in, without Misogynoir waking me up in the morning and tucking right me into bed at night. I think this is the greatest misconception from our non-black, non-woman counterparts ( I use the term counterparts loosely) – that the ‘and’ in ‘Misogynoir and Me’  is voluntary. That the ‘and’ is dependent on our approaches, our responses, our attitudes and our willingness to ‘look on the bright side’.

I could spend the next few paragraphs talking about my experiences, but I think it’s more important that you first understand Misogynoir. Here are 5 FACTS* for you.

*fact /fakt/ noun: a thing that is known to be true.

1.Misogynoir is Misogynoir.

Misogynoir is the (very) specific prejudice directed towards black women where race and gender both influence the bias. ‘Misog’, comes from the word Misogyny and ‘noir’, means black in French. As such, there is no such thing as:

  • Reverse Misgynoir (Because y’all love to reverse non-reversable things)
  • Mr-gynoir (Because you tried it with Meninist)
  • Misgynblanc (Sorry white women – the world misogyny has long existed)
  • This isn’t the oppression olympics and you needn’t make it about anything other than black woman.

Transmisogynoir’ specifically addresses racialised misogyny towards black trans women. Please also do your research and READ!

2.The term Misgynoir was coined by a black woman scholar.

The term ‘misogynoir’ was coined by Dr. Moya Bailey (@moyazb). She first uses the term misogynoir in this article. I’d advise reading her work, she’s very easily Googleable. Here’s a picture of her: 

Dr. Moya Bailey

3.Misogynoir is not up for debate

Unfortunately we live in a world where the oppressor passionately denies oppressing the oppressed whilst still oppressing the oppressed and blaming the oppressed for being oppressed in the first place. Then the oppressed are advised to rise above, turn a blind eye to or confront the oppression, and when we do, the oppressor throws his toys out the pram, becomes more abusive and we’re back in that vicious cycle.  As women, we are told that we encourage the sexulisation of ourselves because of what we wear, how we dress and how we breath. As black folks, we are told that the reason we are marginalised is because of how we ‘behave’, because we’re ‘lazy’, because we ‘exclude’ ourselves etcetc. Somewhere along the line racism and sexism have become a debate – not a debate about how to confront and change the mistreatment of black folks and women – but a debate as to whether or not these things actually exist. This, is unacceptable.

I, Jessica Hagan, as a black woman am here to tell you – Misogynoir exists. Do not tell me it doesn’t.

4. Misogynoir is not specific to one country.

Misogynoir does not just happen in the United States. Misogynoir does not just exist in the United Kingdom. We would do each other a massive disservice if we reduced misogynoir to these countries and erased the voices and experiences of black women outside of these two hellholes – misogynoir needs to be confronted everywhere.

5. Misogynoir existed before we found a term for it

The best way I can describe it is this – Imagine you have a computer with various different files – all the files are extremely important but don’t quite fit into the folders you already have on there. One day, you log in to your computer, and THERE IT IS! – the folder that you can perfectly put all 9,985,785 loose documents into.

This is what Dr Moya Bailey’s invention of the term Misogynoir did for black women everywhere. The term did not create Misogynoir or start Misogynoir, it simply gave a title for something we’ve been experiencing for years and years.

Now we’ve made it to the end of the article, come and see Queens of Sheba at the Camden People’s Theatre – you’ll hear about my personal experiences of misogynoir as well as those of many other black women!