By Tanya Mwamuka.
The generation we live in today revolves around social media; the incessant calling out and cancelling culture perpetuated by social justice warriors. Problematic celebrities have their support retracted; politically incorrect comments have been slandered and recently I have noticed the increase in recognition of social issues such as misogynoir.
What is Misogynoir?
The word misogyny is a term that no doubt the majority of people can at least recognise if not define. Despite that, its counterpart Misogynoir which is combination of the words misogyny and noir, is a term almost exclusively only known by the black community – more specifically black women. The word was coined by queer black feminist scholar, Moya Bailey as a way to express the misogyny directed at black girls and women. Like many issues in our social media fueled generation, the term was popularised on twitter and this word was specifically brought to the forefront by @thetrudz.
Youtuber: Philosopher perfectly explains the term in her video:
#TOTW: Misogynoir |What is it?
“Misogynoir is us being seen as the least attractive solely based on race […] Misogynoir is the fact that although we are always having these conversations about how women make 78 cents to the man’s dollar however black women actually make 67 cents to the white man’s dollar[…] Misogynoir is the fact at any given moment in America, 64 thousand black women are missing and no one says anything. Misogynoir is that black women are reserved the role of the ghetto side chick … the hypersexualised jezebel in all almost all media roles”.
The idea that black women are inherently more aggressive is central if not the most prominent and most recurring example of misogynoir. The use of carefully selected language has effectively curated a negative narrative. As a black woman I can’t count the number of times the phrase “angry black girl” has been thrown around. When describing other women of other races for the same characteristics we see more desirable synonyms used. For example, a fierce or confident demeanour in a black woman would be portrayed as “attitude” whilst in a Latina woman it would be described as “passion”.
How Misogynoir has been used on the Island
So if you haven’t been living under rock, you’ll either be watching love island or at the very least keeping up with the tweets about it. One of the love island contestants Samira Mighty (she’s black) has been subject to misogynoir countless times.
It started from the first coupling. Every one of the boys who were Samira’s type on paper chose a different girl and Samira was forced to be coupled with A & E doctor Alex. Many viewers see nothing wrong with denoting lack of interest towards Samira as simply personal preference. But that isn’t the whole truth; black women, particularly those of non-Eurocentric features and darker skin tones seem only desired when hypersexualised, when it comes to men outside their race. What most people don’t understand is that attributing beauty or non-beauty to race is really part of social conditioning, and we have been conditioned to think that when you look more European, you have achieved the standard of beauty. Compliments (insults really) like “pretty for a black girl” only reinforce this idea and illustrate the thought pattern that black isn’t beautiful. As much as I wanted to be excited about a non-ambiguous black woman entering the villa (a sure sign for an increase in diversity) the niggling idea that the boys likely wouldn’t find her attractive because she’s black consistently played in my head.
Not pretty enough to date Chris Pine?
When Samira revealed she had dated Hollywood actor Chris Pine, she was met with heavy criticism and accusations. One viewer tweeted that she was lying and many proclaimied that she wasn’t attractive enough to date someone of such a status.
In some ways Samira’s situation draws parallels to Marcel, a black man in last year’s series who was also chosen last despite his (obvious) good lucks. However, Samira has the added strife of being a woman with not only her looks put to question, but her behaviour also unfairly scrutinised.
Most recently Samira was deemed manipulative and fake when warning Alex on his new love interest Ellie. Amber Davids, although claiming to be team Samira put her in her Muggy section of her love island column in the Sun. She was joined by annoyed viewers of the show who tweeted about how Samira was misleading Alex to save herself. Strange that no one batted an eyelid of accusation when Dani and Megan were bitching about 20-year-old Georgia.
Yet what was funny is that Samira was right all along. If anything, she is the one person in the villa who doesn’t step on egg shells when it comes to telling Alex the truth. Ellie was filmed talking to Alex about how she felt their relationship was robotic and a preview of the Monday night’s episode revealed drama between Alex and Ellie which Samira had warned of. Furthermore, Samira is deemed aggressive yet other contestants are described with positive alternatives for the same behaviour, as Chia highlights in her tweet.
Samira has been neglected throughout the whole process. When new potentials for Alex walked into the house the islanders encouraged him, gave him style and girl advise and the nation rooted for him to find his love. During all of this Samira received no attention and romantic affection yet no one cheered for her with as much enthusiasm. Despite the islanders claiming Samira is their best friend, the lack of support she receives doesn’t reflect their words.
What’s also funny is that the producers probably thought that by putting Samira in the show, it was a sure way to tick of the inclusion or diversity box. But what’s the point of putting the token black girl in if you’re not even going to put someone in that finds black women attractive? Witcho Lavender perfectly outlines this.
Yes, new boy Sam did choose Samira in the end but I’m still critical. My reservations lie from the fact that when he retold his list of top girls he liked, he didn’t hesitate with 1-3 but forgot Samira’s name asking the girls to remind them of it. Moreover, the sheer number of tweets supporting Samira likely influenced the producers to send in Sam to pick Samira. Many speculate he will recouple with Ellie and Alex and Samira will be right back where they started.
Misogynoir is very much not over but, one thing I do hope is that more and more people become aware of it through watching Samira’s treatment on Love Island.
Tanya is currently studying Biomedical Sciences at the University of Manchester and hopes to get into media and journalism after her degree. Tanya is a lover of fashion and travelling and enjoys fashion blogging and learning languages in her spare time. Right now she is learning French and Spanish.