Can Women Be Misogynists Too?

June 23, 2014  |  

We talk a bunch about male patriarchy and misogyny, but let’s switch things up a bit and talk about the woman counterpart.

No, I’m not talking about the misandrist, because there is no such thing (and spell check often agrees). I’m talking about the lady misogynist among us, whose self-loathing and extreme dislike of some women stands in the way of other women’s autonomy and personal empowerment.

And no, this is not some ol’ Kumbaya post, where I want women to join hands together and forget all of our differences in the name of some phony loyalty. This is about this study, which shows that women in the UK are almost as likely to casually and offensively use words like ‘sl*t’, ‘wh*re’ and ‘rape,’as men on Twitter. It’s also about the other study, which showed that American women who are college students tend to rate women who have had double digit partners (20 to be exact), as less competent, less emotionally stable and less dominant than a less sexually active counterpart. I’m also talking about the women among us, who would prefer to not work for a boss who is a woman or vote for a female politician under the misguided impression that men are better leaders.

Yes, there are lady misogynists among us, who can stereotype and malign another woman faster than a basement-dwelling dude, draped in the strength of 10 Tommy Sotomayors. We all know the type (heck, some of you are the type), but if you need a visual, let me introduce you to Nojma Muhammad, a wife, mother, writer and proud member of the Nation of Islam, who has garnered quite an online following, particularly among men, for her often brash and biting attacks on black women. You might have seen one of her many anti-black woman memes or essays in your social media timeline or on her Facebook fan page called ‘Nojma Reflects,’ or even on other black male centered entertainment and news sites like Thy Black Man and anything associated with Dr. Boyce Watkins. Her most infamous essay, entitled “An Open Letter of Apology to Black Men in Hopes of Reconciliation,” garnered lots of attention a couple of years ago for not only delivering a blanket apology to all the anonymous black men of the world (even the woman-beaters, rapists and murderers?), but also because of the capitulation of her womb in the black man’s honor.

The essay has recently resurfaced again for whatever reason in the blogosphere, more specifically on Naturally Moi, and reads in part:

“I apologize for mistreating you, disrespecting you, neglecting you and belittling you. I know that I have aided in breaking you, and I am beneficial in rebuilding you. I am acknowleding the wrongs that I have committed against you,and I am confessing my faults. By acknowledging my wrongs, doesn’t mean I am absolving you of your duty, but rather I am re-committing myself to my duty to you. I have relinquished my womb from our enemy and I am returning it to it’s rightful owner; you.”

That’s what she said. Some would say that the relinquishing of our wombs is how many of us find ourselves in peculiar situations with deadbeat dads to begin with. But as extreme as it all sounds, Muhammad has claimed in various posts at Nojma Reflects that her aim is to hold black women accountable. However, it also very clear from many of her posts, that her real target of blameworthiness is black single mothers. She writes about this archetype single mom almost daily. According to Muhammad, she is “rebellious and out of control” and has totally disregarded her femininity to become a “wh*re without shame!” This single mother also suffers from lots of entitlement and a “false sense of superiority,” which is likely a result of misguided parents, who taught her to be too independent, and thus too independent for a man, who are all about submission (says Muhammad).  Therefore, these women need to “humble” themselves to whatever attention a man gives to them, considering that they’re not a man’s first choice (you know, because of the kid), and can not give a man’s “power” to rule supreme in the relationship will be limited. And that is just a small and bitter sampling of her philosophies.

She recently had some choice words for black women over the viral mugshot of alleged gun runner, Jeremy Meeks. More specifically, she writes:

And if a criminal catches our eye and makes us lose control it’s very easy to see how we end up in dysfunctional relationships with multiple baby daddies. It doesn’t take much. Be attractive. Be a thug. Have no ambition but I’ll have your babies. ..then I’ll complain about the bum I laid down with knowing you were a bum when I met you.

Apparently, the fact that it was a two-dimensional picture of a man, whom most women will never meet and probably put out of their minds five seconds after seeing his mug shot, means absolutely nothing to her (and others, who seem to have their drawls in a bunch).

However, the most striking aspect of Muhammad’s rhetoric is how it is solely focused on “correcting” women. Of course, men’s misgivings are rarely (if ever) challenged. She doesn’t talk about current events. Nor does she offer any insight on resources or other information meant to empower women. There is not even a single hair styling tip or style counseling offered on how a so-called righteous black woman should properly dress. Her entire brand revolves around being the finger-pointing adversary to other black women and basically calling them a “wh*re.” Clearly, her issues with women are personal, and likely based in fear. Perhaps a fear of men, particularly her new husband, walking out and leaving her high and dry. Or perhaps, she is dealing with the fear of making the same so-called “mistakes.”

The irony here is that Muhammad was once a single mother of two girls herself. It’s something she wrote about in an old essay from 2011 entitled “I Am NOT Damaged Goods,” where she recounts how her ex-husband (and I’m assuming the father of her children) abused her and also had multiple affairs. Unlike the other so-called wayward single mothers, Muhammad attributes her own misfortunes in her romantic relationships to a previous sexual assault, as well as the strained relationship she has with her biological father, who was both inactive and unresponsive for most of her life:

For many years I suffered in silence. I tried to mask my pain with a smile. I became very withdrawn and I hated mirrors. My skin was dark….void of life. I remember days where I would just cry and cry, the simplest task took grave effort. Some noticed my unhappiness, but again I would give them assurance that everything was fine, some I confided in, but I could never quite get the courage or strength to leave. I would make up outlandish stories but say them with conviction to explain a bruise, or try not let anyone see me wince in pain as I walked. I stayed through so much abuse…….blatant affairs…so much disrespect…..partly because I grew up without my father and I didn’t want to subject my children to the same fate, but what I subjected them to was much worse, and I also stayed because I felt like no one else would want me, since I viewed myself as “tainted”. The only place where honesty was allowed was in my writing journals. There I could be honest with what I felt, free to express myself without judgment, there the slave was set free, even if it was just temporary.

She expands more on the impact of her father’s absence in another essay from 2011, entitled “Daddy’s Little Girl.” In it she talks about how after her mother decided to leave that relationship, her father moved on to a whole new family with a new daughter, who Muhammad says became the primary recipient of all of her father’s affection:

When a young girl experiences rejection from her father, she has a tendency to look for love in all the wrong places, because she is seeking validation. Rejection is a hell of emotion to deal with, especially when the person that rejects you is your father. I have been so disappointed by him so many times, that I have built a wall of protection around myself from him because I can’t trust him, yet even at thirty-three I still yearn to be a “daddy’s girl.

It would appear by all the hostility directed at other women, Muhammad is still pining for the attention of her father and possibly sees other black women as a stand-in for her half-sister or even her father’s other wife, who she blames for stealing her dad. Or she is just crazy. I’ll let you all decide…

Whatever the cause, Muhammad is in need of healing. Matter of fact, any woman who preaches submission as a solution to all the ails of black women – especially when black women have some of the highest rates of rape and sexual abuse, unplanned single motherhood, domestic violence and incarceration rates – is also in need of healing. And at the very least, some common sense.

But as much as I want to lash out in anger at Muhammad, I know that she too is a victim of our culture, which preaches and practices hate against women. As such, many of us have internalized some of the very negative ideas, which Muhammad sells. I know I had and it has taken lots of unpacking and deconstructing to change that. And I will readily admit that I am still a work in progress. My hope for her is that one day she can find the strength within herself to do that. With that said, her rhetoric is extremely dangerous and counterproductive to the current and next generation of young women, still trying to find and hold on to their own agency. And because of that, she doesn’t get a pass.

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