Misogynoir in Medicine

On June 24, 1983, Byllye Avery welcomed busloads of Black women to the campus of Spelman College in Atlanta. She was in a state of disbelief. The women had traveled from Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania — even as far away as California — for a three-day event billed as the First National Conference on Black Women’s Health Issues.

Dara Mathis for NYT Times

The year I was born, 21 days after I was born, a historic conference took place at my future Alma Mater. I picked today to make known my effort to further the work with my documentary, Misogynoir in Medicine. I hope you will join me and the team in creating a film that considers Black women’s health as a critical issue for our life and times. Check out our website to learn more, support the work, and see a little bit of what we have in store.

#MisogynoirTransformed Book Tour

Did I mention I wrote a book?

An important grad school hack that I learned after grad school is that you can and should listen to authors talk about their books via book talks! I’m still angling for a Misogynoir Transformed C-SPAN appearance but in the interim, please enjoy this conversation I had with Lee Pierce of the New Books Network!

Also, while you listen, sign up for one of my forthcoming book talks! Would love to hear your questions during any Q&A.

May 18 | 12 PM
Book Talk organized by
CSREA Brown University
May 28 | 7:30 PM
Book talk with Catherine Knight Steele organized by
Charis Books and More/Charis Circle and supporting ZAMI NOBLA (National Organization of Black Lesbians on Aging)
June 7 | 7 PM
Book talk with Chanda Prescod-Weinstein at Brookline Booksmith
June 22 | 8:30 PM
Book talk with Mariame Kaba organized by Skylight Books
*all times EST virtual

Provocations for the Journal Catalyst’s 5th Anniversary

I was invited to be on a panel with some really wonderful feminist STS colleagues to offer provocations in celebration of the 5th Anniversary of the journal, Catalyst. Here are my remarks, part poem, part prose, part pathos.

Yesterday I Tweeted “Ma’Khia is such a beautiful name. I hate how I learned it. #SayHerName

This tweet has more than 30,000 likes. I don’t know what to make of this. is this an outpouring of support for a dead Black girl? For her name? A shared hate for why we know it? What remains of this beautiful girl beyond her name and tiktok hair tutorials?

That 20 minutes after Ma’Khia Bryant became a hashtag, the man who made George Floyd one was found guilty does not move me. I did not breathe any easier knowing that this man would go to prison. A cop in prison is not justice nor is it accountability when the system that put him there remains. And what remains of George Floyd? A hashtag? A hashtag I might study as part of a digital humanities STS project to show that hashtags do some work, create some openings and fissures in a system that would bury us not knowing we were seeds.

What remains. What, remains. What, remains?!

Did you hear about Tree and Delisha Africa?

No one seems to be sure what happened to a set of remains thought to be two children killed in the 1985 MOVE bombing.”

What remains to bury? No remains to bury but remains for a co-ed to learn forensic pathology on. Science built on the literal bones of those most marginalized. Does forensic science bring them back? Make the bombing that that made them bone any less devastating? 

It feels not enough. Not enough for George Floyd and not enough for Ma’khia Bryant. Not enough for Tree and Delisha and those who survive them.

Scholarship cannot undo extrajudicial killings.

I wonder sometimes if the academy is busy work for those who might otherwise get to the business of creating something different. As I was told by an indigenous elder, your land acknowledgement is cute or whatever but don’t do it if it let’s white supremacy relax. What remains if the naming of the Wampanoag, the Pawtuckett, the Massachusett, doesn’t result in concrete care or collateral for another way of relating to those who survived colonization and are still here?

How do we move from performing solidarity at the top of a talk to embodying it in the type of research we do?  How much of my energy should go into jumping through the hoops of academia, even if we figure out how to do our research in a more just way, when we know that ultimately capitalism is not sustainable? At what point do we abandon our computers for lives off grid?

Can STS answer this question? At what point do we know enough to say that new scholarship, research, new words and terms, have not slowed the march towards the end of the anthropocene? That some of us are getting there faster than others? What remains?

Delivered 4/22/2021

Misogynoir and Meghan Markle

In case you missed it, I tweeted,

So #misogynoir almost cost Meghan Markle her life. She thought of dying by suicide because of the misogynoir she was experiencing. She has all the class and color privilege and still felt this way. Think about the reality for other Black women.


The tweet went viral but sparked some questions about whether Meghan was actually a Black woman if she identified as mixed race. 280 characters was not enough so I was grateful that my quick pitch to the ever effervescent Evette Dionne, THE EIC at BITCH, was successful.

Identifying as mixed race, or biracial, or as a “woman of color” didn’t protect Meghan from the British press or the living legacy of hypodescent. Additionally, these terms aren’t mutually exclusive from Black identity. Separating people who have historically and currently been read as Black into a distinct racial group because they also have a white parent does not end racism, nor does it mitigate misogynoir. My tweet was a call to consider how much worse the experience of negotiating misogynoir is for Black women with different facial features, darker skin, and less wealth than Meghan Markle.

Moya Bailey, Misogynoir Nearly Killed Meghan Markle

You can read all about my thoughts on the situation and what it means for Black women like Meghan (just in case you weren’t sure where I landed).

Additionally I had the privilege to meet the brilliant Blair Imani who, in addition to mentoring me on the finer points of that new (new) social media, invited me on her series, #SmarterInSeconds.

I also had the opportunity to talk about this topic more on The Special Report with Areva Martin and other fabulous panelists. You can watch the video here.

My book will be out May 25! Please pick it up at your favorite independent bookstore or mine.

The Imagination Desk Interview

Cartoon version of me in black and white with a yellow highlight.

Moya Bailey is a Black queer feminist scholar, writer, and activist. She is the co-author of #HashtagActivism: Networks of Race and Gender Justice and has a new book, Misogynoir Transformed: Black Women’s Digital Resistance, coming out May 2021. In this conversation, we talk about online communities of support and activism, racial inequalities in medicine, the healthcare system, artificial intelligence, and Moya’s term misogynoir, which describes a specific form of discrimination experienced by Black women.

The Imagination Desk

Misogynoir and Kamala Harris

Image of a smiling Kamala Harris at a podium in front of the logo for Essence Magazine. AP photo.

Even though Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate Kamala Harris was the clear winner of last week’s presidential debate (the fly on Pence’s head notwithstanding), she was disparaged in right-leaning media for her physical appearance and comportment rather than the content of her responses. GOP pollster Frank Luntz claimed that undecided voters “did not find her authentic.” Fellow right-wing politicos Ben Shapiro and David Dudenhoefer (Republican candidate hoping to unseat Rashida Tlaib), both took to Twitter to fire off tweets about Harris’ face rather than her comments during the debate. Shapiro tweeted that Harris looked “deeply uncomfortable” and Dufenhoefer said she was “unlikeable with her smug facial expressions.” While this commentary that ignores the substance of Harris’ talking points in favor of focusing on her appearance is recognizable as the general misogyny that women negotiate, Harris is also navigating the way this misogyny becomes entangled with anti-Black racism. Bill O’Reilly offered faint praise, tweeting that Harris “comes across as articulate though her facial expressions are hurting her.” The word “articulate” is a known dog whistle for anti-Black racism as it is deployed with an assumption of surprise that Black people can communicate clearly and effectively. 

The negative ways that Harris and other Black women are discussed in the media are an example of the confluence of misogyny and anti-Black racism. This brand of vitriol is called misogynoir, a term I coined as a graduate student in 2008. Misogynoir is the anti-Black racist misogyny that Black women experience, particularly in US visual and digital culture. Misogynoir is not simply the racism that Black women encounter, nor is it the misogyny Black women negotiate; it is the uniquely synergistic force of these two oppressions amalgamating into something more harmful than its parts. 

One way that misogynoir becomes legible in the media’s treatment of Harris is through the frames used to discuss her historic but unsuccessful run for president. Her own political ambitions were minimized in favor of a narrative that she rode to political success on the coattails of her mentor turned (albeit briefly) boyfriend former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. News sources insinuated that she’d slept her way to the top, a charge rebranded when she joined the Democratic party presidential ticket as the vice presidential candidate through the short-lived “Joe and the Hoe” merchandise available for purchase at The sexual tenor of these attacks on Harris are beyond the pale when compared to how white women politicians are criticized via general misogyny, like Hillary Clinton being called a bitch. While legitimate critiques of Harris’ record and political positions are ignored, the Jezebel stereotype of Black women as hypersexual and the “Angry Black woman” myth of Black women as loud and irate, dominate the framing of Harris in the public square.

In a recent study by TIME’S UP Now, researchers found that one-quarter of all reporting on Harris was racist and sexist, with the “Angry Black woman” stereotype used the most. Her Indian heritage is rarely brought up in media and when it is, it is often in ways that affirm her lineage, despite there being legitimate questions about the way caste and colorism may inform her politics. Harris is disparaged because she is a Black woman, not because she is a woman of color.

In my forthcoming book, Misogynoir Transformed: Black women’s digital resistance (NYU Press), I discuss the ways that Black women are using digital spaces to challenge the way misogynoir informs their lives and health. While mainstream and digital media can focus on Harris’ heritage and gender, Black women and their allies are wielding this same digital media to have more nuanced conversations about Harris as a candidate.

Crip Camp: #HashtagActivism

Still from Crip Camp recording of me in one box above an interpreter and my slide about Disability #HashtagActivism is centered.
Still from Crip Camp recording of me in one box above an interpreter and my slide about Disability #HashtagActivism is centered.

I was so fortunate to have been invited to participate in Crip Camp by the late Stacey Park Milbern. It was really important to me that my contribution pushed a conversation about disability and Blackness and I think I achieved that. I also got to meet and fan-girl over Alice Wong and her incredible book and collection, Disability Visibility. Here’s the recording in case you missed it!

Crip Camp: #HashtagActivism Transcript here.

#OctaviaTried to Tell Us Webinar

Video of the #OctaviaTried to Tell Us Panel

I had the pleasure of speaking with Monica A. Coleman and Tananarive Due on the 6th episode of their Octavia Tried To Tell Us podcast Saturday. I was a guest to the show alongside one of my favorite Black feminist thinkers, Dr. Farah Jasmine Griffin.

We talked Parables, music, and masculinity. Take a listen and support the show!

MLK Visiting Professor at MIT

mage of me with a blue background smiling at the camera with my answers to three questions on the right.
Image of me with a blue background smiling at the camera with my answers to three questions on the right.

I am so excited to finally announce that I will be spending the year at MIT as an Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Scholar in the program of Women’s and Gender Studies.

Check out my intro to the community with my answers to three timely questions.

1. What are you looking forward to at MIT? I’m excited to be connected to feminists who are actively exploring the sciences. My course, “Black Feminist Health Science Studies,” [WGS.S10, offered Spring 2021] is really designed to make some critical connections between feminism, science, technology, and society. I really can’t think of a better group of students with which to explore these topics.

2. Your new book #HashtagActivism came out at a poignant time with Covid-19 keeping us home more. What are the crucial hashtags you are looking out for in the “new civil rights movement?” Unfortunately, I think we will continue to see hashtags that point to the public health crisis that is racism in the form of the names of extrajudicially killed Black people. I am excited about the hashtags that help expand our advocacy to behavior changes like #StayTheFuckHome and #MasksSaveLives.

3. Favorite song? If the class had a theme song it would be “Brujas” by Princess Nokia.

Interview with MIT WGS