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Last week, a video circulated of a Black woman being punched by several cops (NBC News). Black women celebrities Keke Palmer and Cassie have each made public allegations about rape and abuse they’ve experienced from their partners.

And Megan Thee Stallion released a new song documenting the emotional toll of being shot by artist Trey Songz and the public court case that unfolded as a result. These public conversations are bringing the topic of misogynoir to the forefront and signal the work left to do to protect Black women from abuse.

Misogynoir is a term that Black feminist scholar Moya Bailey coined to describe the specific forms of misogyny and sexism that Black women experience. It is a combination of the words “misogyny,” which refers to the hatred or dislike of women, and “noir,” which means black in French. Misogynoir is used to describe the unique and intersecting forms of discrimination that Black women face due to their race and gender. This includes discrimination based on stereotypes about Black women as well as the intersection of racism and sexism that Black women experience (Anti-Racism Daily). 

TAKE ACTION

• Read the We All Deserve Safety and Peace report, which highlights the growing attacks on Black women and other women of color in social justice spaces.

• Read Misogynoir Transformed by Moya Bailey. 

Misogynoir can manifest in a variety of ways, including in media representations of Black women, in the workplace, and in everyday interactions (more definitions of key terms in our glossary). Although this piece centers on stories from cis Black women, misogynoir disproportionately affects Black trans women, Black disabled women, darker-skinned Black women, Muslim Black women, and other marginalized groups. It’s important to reflect intersectionality when rallying against misogynoir. 

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It also manifests in various forms of abuse. Although 31% of all women will experience domestic violence, that statistic is more than 40% for Black women (Institute of Women’s Policy Research). Stories of police brutality often center Black male victims, but Black women and girls are more likely than any other group of women to be killed by the police. They compose 10% of the female population in the U.S., yet they account for one-fifth of all women killed by the police and almost one-third of unarmed women killed by the police (Los Angeles Times). It’s also reflected in the disproportionate violence that Black women public speakers experience in politics and social justice spaces (Safety and Peace). An article in Refinery29 highlights how Black women are being doxxed and attacked for speaking in defense of Palestine. 



When violence like this is normalized, it becomes more difficult to prevent. Moreover, it prompts society to justify the violence, amplifying the harm to the victims. In each of these situations, for every statement of solidarity, there are messages that shame and blame. Critics believed Keke Palmer’s partner was “justified” in his abuse because a video of her consensually dancing with musical artist Usher at his concert trended on the Internet (EW News), despite the fact that it’s a standard and expected part of his show every night and usually includes a celebrity guest. In an editorial piece for Elle, Megan Thee Stallion reflected on the negative public sentiment thrown at her during the trial and expressed her disappointment with the hate she received. “I could have let the adversity break me, but I persevered, even as people treated my trauma like a running joke” (Elle).

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In order to change the narrative, we have to be more rigorous in denouncing the type of violence normalized against Black women. We can start by addressing statements that may seem small but have a major impact – like the trope that all Black women are “angry” or “difficult,” which is used to justify violence and discredit our stories. We can celebrate and center stories that honor the softness of the Black woman experience (one that all humans share) and aim to hold that space for the Black women in our lives. We deserve so much more.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

• There’s been a rise in news stories that center violence against Black women.

• Misogynoir, coined by Moya Bailey, is a term to describe the specific forms of misogyny and sexism that Black women experience.

• Misogynoir perpetuates discrimination and violence against Black women, which is seen in disproportionate rates of domestic violence, police brutality, and attacks in politicized spaces.

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Felecia Phillips Ollie DD (h.c.) is the inspiring leader and founder of The Equality Network LLC (TEN). With a background in coaching, travel, and a career in news, Felecia brings a unique perspective to promoting diversity and inclusion. Holding a Bachelor's Degree in English/Communications, she is passionate about creating a more inclusive future. From graduating from Mississippi Valley State University to leading initiatives like the Washington State Department of Ecology’s Equal Employment Opportunity Program, Felecia is dedicated to making a positive impact. Join her journey on our blog as she shares insights and leads the charge for equity through The Equality Network.

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