Until 2019, I was unaware of the portmanteau “misogynoir.” Yet, once I saw it, even before hearing the formal characterization, I knew two things; the definition, and how accurate it was.
From the Blackburn Center: “Coined by the queer Black feminist Moya Bailey in 2010, the term is a blending of concepts that combines ‘misogyny’ and the French word for black, ‘noir.’ According to Ms. Bailey, misogynoir is the anti-Black racist misogyny that Black women experience.”
Way back in 2015, the Guardian noted the reaction to a black woman complaining about treatment at a London nightclub. “‘Misogynoir provides a racialised nuance that mainstream feminism wasn’t catching,’ says black feminist commentator, Feminista Jones. ‘We are talking about misogyny, yes, but there is a specific misogyny that is aimed at black women and is uniquely detrimental to black women.’”
Sometimes it’s for speaking up to stand up for oneself or others. Here’s a good example from 2020: “Trump… spoke at two separate press conferences and harshly singled out Yamiche Alcindor, a White House correspondent for PBS NewsHour who is black… Critics argued that his treatment of the journalist amounted to misogynoir. Trump called her questions ‘nasty’ and lectured her to, ‘Be nice. Don’t be threatening. Don’t be threatening.'”
Often, it has to do with physical attributes. To the Twitter trolls, Serena Williams and Michelle Obama, to name two, are “gorillas”, “more manly than any man”. Far-right radio show host Jesse Kelly snarked on Faux News that Kamala Harris “cackles like a dead hyena” with Tucker Carlson laughing in the background.
According to the Los Angeles Times’ Noah Bierman, “Research shows that Harris may be the most targeted American politician on the internet.” Why? She “checks every box for the haters of the fever swamps: She’s a woman, she’s a person of color and she holds power.”
What reminded me of the word is in the description of the late Gloria Richardson, An “Influential Yet Largely Unsung Civil Rights Pioneer.” She “was on the stage at the pivotal March on Washington in 1963 as one of six women listed as ‘fighters for freedom’ on the program. However, she was only allowed to say ‘hello’ before the microphone was taken.”
It isn’t necessary to agree with someone’s policy, position, or life situation to recognize misogynoir for the specific bigotry that it is.