Following Trump’s inauguration a series of Women’s Marches occurred throughout North America. The protests erupted to preserve the female liberties seemingly threatened by a “conservative” president who boasted of sexually assaulting women. As a female, I empathize and even support the initiatives that foment this March. However, although a woman, I know that I am inevitably black first. Thus, I can’t help but feel that by supporting the women’s march is to support the very means of my oppression.
On my a tri-weekly journey to a previous job, I recall seeing a number of protestors outside of Planned Parenthood at the wee hours of the morning seeking to shame female patrons. One protestor stood out from the others—an elderly white man surely north of seventy-five. He stood hunched over, holding an oaktag with a message written in ballpoint pen. I did not bother to read the poster, but judging by the stoic expression on his face, he was there to cast the stones of white male privilege onto the female body. Standing at the intersectionality of race and gender, the black woman knows this gaze all to well. While the literal gaze casts itself onto the black female body countless places throughout North America, the figurative gaze consumes black femininity in its entirety. The women’s march solely speaks to the “woman” component of this gaze, eliminating the most defining characteristic of black female identity.
Reproductive rights in general proves controversial to the black female trajectory. A quick glance at history reveals that the black female endured sheer deprivation in terms of reproductive rights—her body used as means for mayoral economic franchisement. White women too encompassed an existence that also regarded them as property, however their fair skin warranted privileges denied to the black female body. These exclusive liberties afforded to white women illustrate the concept of “woman” as a privilege solely applicable to non-male whites. Consider the phrasing “black” woman. The label “Black woman” illustrates that black female intersectionality separates black females from the term’s initial meaning. For any “woman” of another marginalized faction, their race or ethnicity always precedes the term woman—proving their genitals deem them female but their race and ethnicity is first and foremost. Femininity is also a privilege extended exclusively to non-male whites. This exclusivity persists as the black female body only earns femininity when adopting western aesthetics and behavior.
Given the exclusivity of the term “woman,” I find it quite disturbing that white women ( and other oppressed groups) call on the black women for support in their times of distress, yet alienate the black female body when their children, brothers and fathers lay slain on the streets or untagged in the morgue. How many white women “said her name” after Sandra Bland was murdered? How many white women were overtly outraged after the Trayvon Martin verdict was rendered?
To take a trip down memory lane, how many white female feminists supported Tawana Brawley in her 1988 trial? If autonomy over the female body is right every woman deserves- why was their no feminist congregation when this young, black girl was sexually assaulted by a number of white men? The answer is simple. Issues that engage both blackness and femininity become “black” issues instantaneously. This fact reveals that feminism is simply not built to encompass intersectional identities and thereby is not equipped to extinguish black female disenfranchisement.
It seems that former President Barack Obama’s victory disgruntled feminists, who supported this victory as long as it was a symbol of the feminist victory to follow. It seems feminists felt that history would repeat itself. Namely, black male voting privilege preceded white female voting liberties. Thus, feminists deemed Clinton’s victory inevitable following Obama’s 2008 victory. Dr. Angela Davis expressed a similar sentiment in the following excerpt from her book Women, Race and Class,
“The representative women of the nation have done their uttermost for the last thirty years to secure freedom for the negro; and as long as he was lowest in the scale of being, we were willing to press his claims, but now, as the celestial gate to civil rights is sIowly moving on its hinges, it becomes a serious question whether we had better stand aside and see ‘Sambo’ walk into the kingdom first.” (Davis 70)
Now that it seems that the black collective has something that the white female collective does not, the bells of white privilege right loudly under the veil of feminism.
Feminism functions to afford white women the same liberties as white men. The main component of these liberties is racism—deeming black female participation in any feminist activity injurious. Thus, to participate in a woman’s march as a black woman is to march along to the stagnant beat of white supremacy. For the black woman is a queen, but to the western world she will never truly be a woman.
Article written by C.C. Saunders
This is a great video by Rick Wallace. He makes some very strong points on misogyny in hop hop and the black community as a whole. It’s a very touchy subject that many brothers and sistas don’t touch on. But it’s an issue that must be addressed. It’s something that can’t be ignored.
Misogyny is the hatred of women. It differs from sexism in that while sexism implies patriarchal domination inferring inferior status on women or female-identified (and not biologically essentialist here) persons who may not use the label “woman,” misogyny speaks to the individual, social and cultural hatred of women based on that presumed inferiority. Misogyny isn’t just insults though (as no system of oppression is) and is in fact institutionalized. Examples of said institutionalization are clearly seen in how rape culture manifests in the media, the criminal justice system, and legislation. Or marketing for beauty, food and diets. Or products like video games. It’s more than a man calling a woman a “whore,” though that insult operates beyond an individual level when a man can rape a woman, say she is a whore and not be convicted or even arrested for it.
Unlike sexism or racism where men and Whites proliferate them, respectively, and benefit from them (since institutions supports them) and at most, women and Blacks, respectively, can internalize it and project it but have no institutional power associated with it, misogyny can be proliferated by anyone (i.e. anyone can proliferate rape culture via victim blaming), and when they have other privilege (i.e. White or male privilege) it becomes especially perilous. This is how White women and Black men, for example, can proliferate anti-Black misogyny (misogynoir) against Black women, though White women cannot be sexist or Black men be racist, by definition. Them proliferating this specific misogyny reveals racism and internalized sexism on the White woman’s part and sexism and internalized racism on the Black man’s part. Of course the key to anti-Black misogyny has been White men. Literally every manifestation of stereotypes and controlling images used to oppress Black women via anything from appearance to sexuality have been historically proliferated and capitalized on (pun intended) by White men, including them establishing White womanhood as diametrically opposed to Black womanhood. Black women ourselves can also proliferate anti-Black misogyny as an expression of learned self-hatred or through binaries created because of the politics of respectability.
Misogyny dehumanizes women in, general. Anti-Black misogyny (which functions because of racism, sexism and White supremacy) makes Black women “not human” and thereby worthy of hatred and abuse yet White women the standard of humanity that Black women should aspire to.
Misogyny makes men’s “natural” angered reactions to women include the word “bitch” where their privilege and power makes it different from women who seek to reclaim that word and use between each other. Anti-Black misogyny creates other oppressive slurs, where even “black” itself becomes a pejorative. “Black bitch.” “Nigger bitch.”Misogyny makes women’s bodies objects, not a physical expression of whole human beings. Anti-Black misogyny makes Black women’s bodies objects for breeding, sex or spectacle. It means open voyeurism–whether Sara Baartman of the past, the decade plus of comments on Serena Williams’ body or a recent event where a Black woman was treated as an object to gawk at (beyond her clothing) by literally everyone (including White women) in a public space in New York–is considered a normal reaction to specific Black female bodies. And all of this occurs while thin White female bodies are presented as the ideal. Where any Black women’s nudity or dancing is deemed “hypersexual” yet White women’s nudity or dancing has room for nuance is anti-Black misogyny.
Misogyny makes the exploitation of women’s labor (through sexism being the reason for lower wages) worse by including the rationalization of sexual harassment, abuse in the workplace and global exploitation of women’s work. Anti-Black misogyny means that on top of lower wages than White women, Black women cannot cry in the workplace (Black Tears™ don’t work or exist like White Tears™ do) and use that as a source of power and face stereotypes of being “angry” (connected to dehumanization where we aren’t deemed “real” women) which limits our voices being heard, positions we are offered or recourse against abuse from Whites in the workplace.
Misogyny supporting rape culture is why women are raped and rarely receive justice. It’s why 97% of rapists won’t spend a day in jail. Anti-Black misogyny means that the legacy of perceiving Black women as automatically “unrapeable” and as “whores” because of how White supremacy (myth of the purity of White womanhood) and racism (stereotypes about Black womanhood made to justify centuries of rape, exploitative body experimentation and abuse) work together to justify slavery and build capitalism still persists today and shapes conversation on rape where the victim is usually framed as a White teen or college co-ed.Misogyny makes violence against women a consistent problem in our society. Anti-Black misogyny is why videos of Black women being violently hit or abused are deemed “funny,” why Black women experience higher incidents of violence from intimate partners, why Black women are believed to experience less pain in childbirth despite no evidence (which connects to Black people’s pain, in general, being ignored or deemed non existent), and why cops regularly abuse pregnant Black women who are only viewed as a race and not a gender also.
Misogyny reduces women to stereotypes in a similar fashion to bodily objectification. Anti-Black misogyny is why there are no White stereotypes or controlling images to match these that are used to marginalize and oppress Black women: mammy, Sapphire, Jezebel, welfare queen, matriarch (as a racialized pejorative), angry Black woman, Strong Black Woman. It’s why despite a legacy of always working, even when we didn’t own our wages or our bodies, stereotypes like “welfare cheat” and “gold digger” are presented as Black women by default. And TV tropes about Whites do not parallel to these. Tropes are not used to control and oppress Whites in every sphere. This is beyond just media.