Sunday, March 1, 2009

Special Cross Post from Can We Be Frank (

Plain, Conversational Responses to Misogyny:

Misogynist Myth 1:

“Chris Brown is a good kid. Something must have really pushed him over the edge. He does not deserve to be dragged through the mud like this. Black men are always being represented as extra-sexist, which isn’t fair. Overall Chris Brown is great role model for black men. ”

Whenever we dare to critique black male sexism or misogyny, we are immediately told that such critiques are "wrong" because they run the risk of representing black men in a "negative" light. The time has come to move beyond these sort of Clarence Thomas politics. When black men---regardless of their class, sexual orientation, or profession----abuse a woman, it is intolerable, unacceptable, and must be aggressively denounced. Period.

We know this story all too well. When Clarence did it, it was “Anita’s fault.” When O.J. did it, it was “white people’s fault.” When R. Kelly “did it” it was those “jealous hoes’ fault.”

When will be allowed to denounce black male misogyny without fear of losing our Blackness membership card?

Misogynist Myth 2:
Rihanna must have “Provoked” It. She “asked” for it.

Sometimes I wonder how black people would respond if white people suddenly started offering “justifications” for our antebellum, slave ass-whippings. I can just imagine it now, “Well Kunte actually deserved that bloody lash because I told his sneaky ass to stop stepping out of line in the cotton field!”

I’m being dangerously facetious here, but my point should be well taken. There is no such thing as a “justification” for an act of sexist violence. In the moment that a man’s hands come down upon a woman’s body, they are immediately rooted (even if inadvertently) to a longer history of sexism and misogyny; to a history which has systematically preconditioned us to believe that physical violence is both a sane and natural way to put a woman “in her place.”

If we are to move beyond the cults of sexism and misogyny that run rampant in many black romantic relationships, then we must free ourselves from the egregiously problematic notion that casual male violence against women is ever “justified.” Particularly when it involves a 6’2, 180 pound man against a 5’8, 120 pound (a size “2”) woman.

Misogynist Myth #3:
Well, both of them were in the wrong. Why are we focusing exclusively on Chris Brown’s wrong-doing? Clearly this man needs help. Should’nt we be trying to support Chris Brown and make sure that he gets the help that he needs?

Any politics of social justice that does not begin with a concern, first and foremost for those MOST disadvantaged (i.e. the BATTERED rather than the BATTERER; the ABUSED rather than the ABUSER; the VICTIM of Violence rather than simply the Perpetrator of it) is misguided, and surely doomed for failure. I continue to believe in the utility of a "bottom's up" approach to social justice.

Therefore, we should refuse to let our "concern" for Chris Brown's "needs" silence our outrage, disgust, and/or disapproval of his misogyny.

Can I get a womanist, feminist Amen? A Witness?