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Black womanhood

When discrimination of race and gender collide, it’s “misogynoir”

By WITW Staff on October 7, 2015

In 2010, black gay scholar Moya Bailey was musing over black women’s representation in the media with a friend, discussing the ways that black women are pathologized in culture. The word “misogynoir” was born, and is defined by Bailey as a way “to describe the particular brand of hatred directed at black women in American visual and popular culture,” even in mainstream feminism. Black womanhood is nuanced, and the prejudice, racism and discrimination they face is specific and “uniquely detrimental,” black feminist commentator Feminista Jones told The Guardian in its explainer of the term.

Think Serena Williams: she faces misogyny for her role as a woman athlete, but because she is a black woman, the body-shaming and discrimination she faces sets her apart from her non-black competitors. She’s more heavily scrutinized because of her blackness – discrimination that some black people have said forces them to work “twice as hard” to achieve success, but also for acceptance when they do succeed.

Thanks to Bailey, when London nightclub Dstrkt last week denied two young black women for being “too fat” and “too dark,” social media knew what word to use to describe this particular discriminatory intersection of gender and race. Language, especially self-defined terms, can be a very powerful tool.

Read the complete origin of “misogynoir” on Moya Bailey’s blog and an explainer at The Guardian.