Regardless of your stance on fourth-wave, intersectional feminism or the Women’s Rights movement as a whole, misogyny is ever present and undeniably manifests it’s ugly, patriarchal hold on men and women alike. Despite those who relentlessly protest, sexism is just one of those things you can’t deny. It’s like racism in a supposedly “post-racial” society. Or Takeoff not being left off Bad and Boujee. These are all indisputable facts.
Sadly, casual misogyny is often sidelined as far as Black issues go. It’s no surprise that racism (for obvious reasons) takes the cake when it comes to priorities for the Black community. Between police officers killing Black people almost as if for sport, neo-Nazis and White Supremacists marching onto college campuses, and an actual White Supremacist sympathizer in the Oval Office, misogyny does seem like the least relevant.
While that may be the case, misogyny is still a Black issue. It may even be a Black issue more so than a white woman’s issue (courtesy of every Black woman’s standard double dosage of oppression). Oh, and let’s not forget that misogyny is a men’s issue as well. Specifically, a Black men’s issue. That’s because misogyny is inherently racist.
In order to fully understand the racist aspects of the social and political divide between Black men and Black women, we have to discuss the foundation upon which that divide was built.
In 1712, Willie Lynch, a prominent British slave-owner in the then-colony of Virginia, delivered a speech on the bank of the James River. The speech later became known as the infamous Willie Lynch Letter or, alternatively, “The Making of a Slave”. It consists of a basic, formulated outline that explains the most efficient and effective way to essentially “breakdown” the African man and woman into submission.
The speech has an entire section titled “The Breaking Process of the African Woman” in which tactics such as “(…) tests on her to see if she will submit to your desires willingly,” and forging a state of false psychological independence. The speech describes the result of this process as leaving women in a physically vulnerable state, and, out of fear, causing her to raise male offspring to be psychologically dependent but physically independent and vice versa. Read the full Willie Lynch Letter here.
In other words, African men were raised to prioritize the strength of the body over the strength of the mind. African women were taught psychological independence, but this strength of the mind clashed with the manufactured weak minds of men.
According to Willie Lynch, it was necessary to “(…) use the female vs. the male. And the male vs. the female.” The speech is often misinterpreted as gender role reversal (dependent male vs. independent female) being the primary malefactor in making African men and women easier to control. In all actuality, it is the mental separation that divides them.
Both the man and the woman must operate in a state of psychological independence so not to fall prey to the malevolence of the oppressor. We still see the consequences of the Willie Lynch Letter take form in the celebration of Neanderthal-esque, patriarchal ideals instilled in the Black man by the oppressor. And it saddens me just as much as it makes me want to take up permanent residency in a low-key misandrist, woman-dominated utopia.
We, for lack of better wording, HAVE to do better. Misogyny has pitted the Black man against the Black woman for over a century in both its internalized and externalized forms. It is one of the many lasting effects of slavery in the United States that only we have the ability to change.
We must collectively value psychological and physical strength in both the man and the woman. We cannot belittle a woman’s physicality and sexuality while we simultaneously praise the same characteristics in a man. We cannot suppress a man’s emotional intellect and enforce his corporeal appetites. Without balance and without equality, we will remain in a state of subconscious submission. We will enable the modern day “making of a slave”.