Misogynoir 101- Sex, Skin and Supremacy.

White supremacy is a leash around the neck of sexual understanding. The idea of beauty was created in the antithesis of black bodies. For them to be objectified in all situations, bought and sold globally. The humanisation of us within the eyes of some white people and ourselves continuously. This is how we’re even free.

Misogynoir is where the intersection of racism and sexism meet. It is the very specific and widespread bias that is directed towards black women. The term was coined in 2008 by scholar and feminist Moya Bailey – a black woman.

In raising An Ally 101 I explained intersectionality as the AND. Below I’ll give you a few examples of misogynoir that we’re all familiar with.

The term “Angry Black Woman”.

The intention is to have people see/believe that her blackness and womanhood combined means anger is her default emotion. Now….. let’s go deeper with this. Patriarchy depicts women as “hysterical and in need of saving”. White supremacy has depicted black people specifically men as dangerous. Now a black woman being put into the ABW box doesn’t address how or why she could be angry nor does it address her delicacies too.

Ebony.

Yep just as you thought. The category. First of all outside of race, do you realise the other categories tend not to show many black people (although they are certain body parts, types or sexual acts) but our bodies work the same. White is not a category that has been sexualised or sold for sexual consumption. But for nearly all races that aren’t white this has happened. That is what we call fetishisation.

Too fast?

This bit I’m not sure what the subheading would be. This speaks to two particular elements of misogynoir. You’re gonna have to follow me here but basically this is kinda like Lolita with a side of racism. Historically womanhood was regarded as when a girl started her period. Now during slavery this also meant that a black girl could be raped and bear children for the master or whoever. Anti blackness is apart of our present day world, people don’t even know why they think the way they do. Black girls are often referred to as too grown or too fast. The reason is because of what I mentioned earlier.

This means that a (black) girl was potentially always on the verge of being abused by her captives as a “woman”. Her innocence and race were taken and used against her. The onus of protection became her responsibility because now she was “grown”. To this day there is an idea that becoming a woman puts you in danger. The threat to white girls was never the same as black women. This still hasn’t changed the responsibility of our safety is STILL on us solely. But the protection of white women well I’d call that mainstream feminism. Truthfully, historically we are taught there is no one that can save black women nor protect us. That’s not true but it’s what we are taught.

Sex and sexual abuse was another tool of slavery. I’d suggest watching Underground.

I’d also strongly suggest learning about buck breaking. It was a process that was SPECIFICALLY done to liken a black man more to a woman publicly. So that the shame and abuse would teach him and other slaves a lesson.

*Note to black people it’s horrible and I’d suggest maybe not for you.

It’s disgusting and there’s so much more than that to be said. However my 101’s are to begin a dialogue within yourself. A conversation you must be committed to furthering on your own accord.

The trans community.

First of all Black trans women have a life expectancy of 35 years old. THAT IS NOT OKAY.

Since it happened the Stonewall Uprising (riots) have been a constant reminder for the LGBTQIA+ community that our lives, our stories and our love is valid.

It was the birth of the Pride Parade.

Marsha P Johnson and Stormé DeLarverie were leaders of that movement. Stormé was a lesbian and Marsha was a trans woman. Both were black. Yet in the an interview she did with the Village Voice 1979 titled The Drag of Politics we read this “Andy Warhol silkscreens of Marsha sell for $1400 in a Christopher Street gallery while Marsha walks the sidewalk outside, broke.”

Back in the 70’s Andy Warhol was commissioned to make a series of work. It later became named Ladies and Gentlemen. The portraits were of Black and Latin women who were trans.

The man who commissioned Warhol asked for ‘impersonal, anonymous’ pictures of ‘transvestites’. Because of this it took researchers until 2014 to find some of their names. Warhol agreed to create the artworks and recruited the women to be photographed yet he never intended to share their name.

This is what misogynoir looks like.

The Tate are showing Warhol’s works currently until November including some of these portraits.

Can we talk about the idea of beauty?

Unless it’s a big city and a flagship store, we can’t buy our groceries and cosmetics in the supermarket like you can.

Did you know that most black hair shops sell bleaching cream? I have been seeing them my entire life. They always have gorgeous packaging and are often eye level to toddlers.

I know that because my three year old has asked me for the pretty pink box before. That’s when I realised their placing. She doesn’t know what was in it and I had become so used to that being apart of the black beauty industry, I forgot it was. It’s a shame that I did but I think somewhere along the way I had to.

I am what you call dark skinned. That means I’m at the bottom of all the lists. Dark skin usually comes with 4c hair. Another scale (for hair) that is used to grade blackness against Eurocentric beauty standards. 4c is the “end” of that scale. You know before the “Kardashian effect” a lot of women who had shapes like theirs were considered plus sized. Regardless of size due to their proportions. Before the body positivity movement took off, plus size was labelled as a bad thing. Those women were mainly black and brown.

The curve of our bodies is natural just like the kinks in our hair and the tones of our skin. But that is everything that we are taught to reject. Now you understand that, I don’t want to hear anything about weaves etc. Context is everything.

For me it was either reject the world’s idea of beauty in favour of my own. Or feed into it and maybe one day find myself buying skin corroding products. Obviously I chose the former. But not everyone does and I can’t say I blame them.

FYI Johnson’s, Nivea, Vaseline, Neutrogena, Lancôme, Olay and Garnier all have products that are marketed as brightening or lightening products. They are marketed mainly within Asia and Africa where the advertising standards and also ingredients disclosure rules are different. You can’t buy them here but the adverts are all available on YouTube.

A bit of history on complexion – the darker you were the “harder” you worked. The lighter you were the “cleaner” you were. So house slaves were often fairer skinned or mixed raced. They were made to serve and clean in the masters home. Field slaves worked the land and picked the crops under the sun. They were darker. This was also the treatment of the indentured labourers.

The closer you were to white the nicer your life could be, the more beautiful you were. Obviously that’s bullshit and racism is racism no matter how it presents.

But that’s also what has been fed to people for far too long and why we still have bleaching creams being sold.

The waves of feminism…

The mainstream feminist movement doesn’t speak to or for black people directly. There are so many oversights. Off the top of the dome, I’d say let’s throw it back for a second. Look at the celebrations of 100 years since women given the right to vote in 2018. That was a big moment for feminism.

But black women weren’t allowed to vote then. Not because they were black but because you had to be a home owner and over 30 to vote. The British Empire was still occupying most of its colonies. Black people weren’t regarded as equal, only some white women had just gotten the right to vote. A white womans problem was being oppressed by men. So when they got their right to vote it was for them.

In 2018 I don’t think many of fourth wavers considered that. Partly because they’re not used to seeing Black and Asian women be apart of feminism during that time. Doesn’t mean they weren’t. So next time ask where they were and what was going on.

If I cannot celebrate your liberation as ours…. as you do, it’s because mine was yet to arrive.

You would have had ideas of what you thought about black beauty, black skin, racism and sexism before… how about now?

That’s all for Misogynoir 101 x

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