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#MisogynoirTransformed: A Live Tweet Readalong

Yesterday, I got my copy of Dr. Moya Bailey’s new book, Misogynoir Transformed: Black Women’s Digital Resistance, and I was so excited that I immediately sat down to read it, and began live tweeting my reactions. My fangirl thread caught the attention of Dr. Bailey, who then asked if I was going to do the whole book. I was absolutely going to live tweet the whole book. What follows is the thread (original link here) of my reactions to reading Misogynoir Transformed for the first time:


So just a few days after I had a melt down about my mental health as a BW, I read this question: “Can a person achieve the WHO definition of health if they encounter racism, sexism, ableism, and other oppressions as a part of their daily life in the world?” (12) @moyazb

It continues: “The stress and material co sequences of system oppression make it nearly impossible to have physical, mental, and social well-being in a white supremacist patriarchal country.” (12) Misogynoir Transformed

I needed to read this because I felt insane. Just the other day, I said to a friend, if I die, it will be because of the impacts of stress and anxiety and depression on my life that no one believed when I tried to explain it to them. I don’t think my bipolar/anxiety can manifest as it does in the DSM bc I’m a Black woman 

Therefore, you simply just have to believe when I say I need help. Because if a Black woman says she needs help, you have to know immediately that it’s bad because we are socialized via media messaging and upbringing to swallow EVERYTHING. 

More things that I love about Misogynoir Transformed:

Digital alchemy in multiple formations. It can be defensive, Bailey argues, which actively fights back against instance of misogynoir online; and it can be generative, which pushes past and desires new forms of representation 

I also appreciate the break down of how this book centers Black women AND Black queer folks, trans folks and GNC folks, which are voices often pushed to the margins of Black gender studies work on Black women/girls. It’s a great model for how to do that with care. 

Relatedly, the “Not all Black women are Black feminists, and not all Black feminists are women,” is gonna blow some folks’ minds 😂 

This intro is giving, “Get in losers, we’re troubling the assumed heteronormativity of Black women,” (29) and I love it, let me be gathered 

love the chapter 1 title bc it deliberately calls in layers meaning making: “Misogynoir Is a Drag.” Its clever bc it mirrors: Misogynoir shows how layers of meaning are inextricable and drag’s multiple meanings are all necessary to understanding harm against BW. 

Speaking of meaning making, let’s get into how Bailey sets up reading and dragging as direct linguistic descendants to signifying!!! (36)

One thing about Black folks, we love good words. 

Another read you probably didn’t want today BUT: “It should be no surprise that toxic masculinity does not need a man to do it’s bidding.” (46)

some of the greatest perpetrators of harm to BW are us…Toni Morrison begged us not to participate in the oppression of our sisters 😬 

The thing that is very clear to me about Bailey’s work is that everybody is on notice. 😂 masculinity and patriarchy is gone do what it and do and so sometimes, you will need to be gathered regardless of who you are and/or your identity. Everyone needs to be called in sometime 🤷🏾‍♀️ discussion time!

There’s an incident of police violence against a 15 yo Black girl captured and disseminated by a white boy; Bailey writes that this white boy engaged in defensive digital alchemy.

Who can perform digital alchemy? Is it digital alchemy if it was unintentional? Moved onto Ch 2 on trans advocacy and am on p. 70 thinking about Janet Mock, realness, trauma and the Black women’s autobiographies.

One thing my students spoke about often this semester was BW trauma; I countered by offering that we should seize control of our stories + My thought, which is sort of reflected here, is that we absolutely don’t want other people to tell our stories for us bc of how we’re often rendered thru others’ eyes…doesn’t mean we’re limited to trauma narratives; it just means BW should dictate how/if/when we share our pain I’m in p. 72-75 thinking about pageants + what does or does not make a digital alchemic act feminist.

Everything Bailey says is true; but I know a Black girl who found pageants a way to learn to love herself. It was transformative for her. (Start 49:33)

Bailey prefacing #MisogynoirTransformed with a bit on how her intellectual pursuits shifted is important to me—originally she wanted to be an MD. It also makes me link the section on trans women’s health to @alondra’s Body & Soul. I read it with Prof Harold + think about it often 

Reading the section on CeCe McDonald and am trying to figure out what the hell is up with Minneapolis?! 

Every time someone asks if anyone still blogs or if blogging is dead, an Angel loses their wings. Ima read them: “Blogs are part of the digital woman of color feminist story as they serve as a space for building connection and understanding through the digital world.” (93)

 On to Ch 3 on web series!

“Digital media makers are less concerned with creating content that reaches privileged out-group members than creating content for their own networks.” (104) Gotta call in my fav webseries @blackenough__ & my fav advocate of indie media @tayleighlamb

Same page Bailey calls in worldbuilding, which is impt in my work which also centers fantasy. She argues that the liberatory worlds built in Black queer webseries are not utopias; this is also something I dealt with teaching. Fantasy =/= utopia. I don’t think liberation is utopia 

But it’s hard right, bc I think what my students were grappling with was so much media that dehumanizes and is violent to their self, that they perhaps that their ideal reality was fantasy. Not quite the function of fantasy, which really, is to, momentarily, suspend disbelief. 

Okay so now I’m thinking about “Queerness becomes Taylor’s way to name her multifaceted desire.” (110) Bailey demonstrates how the openness of the webseries as a form offers more opportunity to showcase heterogeneity of Black queer life.

But I’m also thinking about naming. I’m drawn back to this moment when Bailey positions Janet Mock in a tradition of Black women autobiographers and what it means to be able to define the self, for the self, which again returns us to trauma—claiming our agency means claiming our stories to do with what we see fit 

BUT ALSO, to return to this idea of openness of the webseries, she argues that they “both reinforce and challenge dominant ideas about sexuality.”

I love this thing: “both/and.”

I love that I have internalized multiple things can be true at once; it frees you up (An aside: I need to watch the episode of Skye’s the Limit where Mutha Indigo tells Skye she’s “feasting on scraps; little bits and pieces of ambiguous romance.” [113-114] because that was a read I absolutely was not prepared for.) 

On p 127 when Bailey talks abt the group of friends in Between Women attempting harm reduction by not calling the police for their friend experiencing IPV, I immediately thought of abolition + what I learned from Mariame Kaba’s new book then the next sentence was about abolition! 

I’ve been trying my best to read and engage with abolitionist words and sometimes my mind explodes at how deeply interconnected all the things I care about are and how their are no single issue struggles because we do not lead single issue lives. (Lorde) 

I’m just thinking about the seamless way Bailey lays bare IPV, abolition, queer relationships, toxic masculinity while also making claims about form as well as content…and bruh, I need to just hang it up now, aint no way I can ever write something like this 😭 

Chapter 3 is my favorite so far! Ugh. The talent.

Time for another break then I’ll resume. I think I’m just gonna read the whole rest 🤷🏾‍♀️ 

Shit, chapter 4 is about Tumblr, guess I can’t stop now 🤷🏾‍♀️ 

Black women, queer folks, GNC folks and trans folks use of social media sites will never not fascinate me mostly bc I am very much a Digital Black Girl™️ and I feel seen when we talk about our online lives. Again, I quote “Alter Egos and Infinite Literacies,” by JMJ…every day 

On p 150 reading the analysis of the interview w Tumblr user Danielle Cole + thinking so much about how I write for me, but also to be heard. Ofc I often cite, “I went online to try speak myself into existence by speaking to myself.” From Alter Egos & Infinite Literacies @jmjafrx

The reason Tumblr can be a space of generative digital alchemy is part due to design; the site is structured around shared interests, rather than offline connections, Bailey argues. Finding this space that explodes preconceived notions of Blackness + queerness blew my mind at 16 

Tbh the difference between defensive digital alchemy and generative feels like the point I tried to make to my students all semester: identifying issues and raising awareness is a thing, AND if we know that it what we do not want, what *do* we want? How do we make it? 

YUP, so now Bailey argues that sites like Tumblr (and Twitter) are effective in being places to begin community conversations about issues like Misogynoir but it does not necessarily transform or combat the Misogynoir itself (154) 

I’m thinking so much about transformative justice in design now bc of this chapter and about all the conversations @tayleighlamb and I have about it…

But then it was followed by a section on personas, which is something that really fascinated me with BW in digital and IRL I’m obsessed with this article by Taylor Crumpton about Black women in rap’s alter egos!

The proud tradition of alter egos in female rapBoth Megan Thee Stallion and Nicki Minaj have announced new personas, continuing a culture of female rappers channelling unfiltered anger through fictional characters.https://theface.com/music/female-rap-alter-egos-beyonce-sasha-fierce-nicki-minaj-megan-thee-stallion-rico-nasty

“generative digital alchemy becomes a praxis that transforms Misogynoir through what it facilitates.” (161)

If y’all thought I was obsessed with the idea of digital alchemy before… On p. 166-167 and thinking about what would happen if we reckon with social media as the tool that is. It was something I struggled with early in my grad school career bc the people I met here were my life preservers; but the platform is the not the relationship, it facilitates. P 169, first full paragraph translation: “I miss when we read on the internet.” 🌚 

In citing her interview with Myers, Myers says, “…There are ways where Black women are ‘appreciated’ but it still feels…I wouldn’t say appreciated. ‘Recognized,’ ‘celebrated,’ I guess, in the sense of visibility, but it can so quickly turn on its head.” + WHAT HAVE I BEEN TELLING YALL ABOUT ME FEELING USEFUL AND NOT LOVED?! I have been screaming it for the last few weeks and it’s RIGHT HERE IN THIS BOOK that we need BW women to be celebrated and appreciated AUTHENTICALLY. (170)

WHEW, COME ON THEN

Wrapped chapter 4, so I’m just gonna go to the conclusion.

I am already snapping because I still remember the first time I got dragged by a Black woman Professor publicly. Lisa Woolfork got me together on the *first* day of her class my second semester third year at UVA. A few quotes to leave you with from the conclusion:

“we need to continue to stretch our imaginations, because another world is not only possible, it is required for more than mere survival.” (178) “I love these imperfect & messy means for making something out of the scraps you have been given. But this practice of making a way out of no way is not sustainable. I envision a Black queer feminist future where we have what we need and Misogynoir is truly transformed…” (181) “Even as I work toward the end of Misogynoir, I know that it requires the transmutation of people.” (181) And fin.

Thank y’all for joining me in this day long live tweet of @moyazb’s #MisogynoirTransformed, available from @NYUpress (link below)

I hope this thread gives you something to think about and inspires you to pick up Bailey’s book ❤️

nyupress.org/9781479865109/…

Misogynoir TransformedWhere racism and sexism meet—an understanding of anti-Black misogynyWhen Moya Bailey first coined the term misogynoir, she defined it as the ways anti-Blac…https://nyupress.org/9781479865109/misogynoir-transformed/

Semester Still Life: Portraits of a DIGITAL Black girl Magic Class

https://blkgirlsinthefuture.tumblr.com/

Reflections of an Incoming Black Graduate Student Association President

I decided to run for president of my institution’s Black Graduate Student Association.

Spoiler alert: I won.

My friends went through a range of responses, from being anxious about how much stuff I already do to referring to me immediately as “Madame President.” Some folks thought it was a snap decision, while my Dad said, “Well it’s about time.”

The truth is, I’ve been in a growth process surrounding Black student organizations since I was on Black Student Alliance’s board at UVA seven years ago. I served there for one year, and due to my declining mental health, I quit the summer before my third year.

And as much as I’d love to contribute my decision to leave that space solely to my mental health, I also had a hard time with the way men’s voices were privileged, the “in-groupness” of it all and what I felt, at the time, was a performance of activism. I felt like there wasn’t space for me, not realizing that I had the agency to make space for myself.

So I left.

Still, the imprint of my time there remained. I stayed in touch with a fourth year who had also been on BSA and went on to pursue a doctorate in English, and she became a huge resource for me throughout my graduate school journey. It showed me the beginnings of what I would come to understand as a number of interwoven Black communities, rather than one group that could not be effectively serviced as such. And, in some ways, most importantly, Claudrena Harold’s, our BSA advisor’s, teachings about the activist and advocacy roots of Black student groups at Predominantly White Institutions lingered long after I had removed myself from BSA.

For the rest of time at UVA, I became very involved in smaller scale organizations. I worked as an intern with the Outreach Office of Admission and the Ridley Scholarship Foundation. I invested in the French House and Language House Council. And I became the stage manager for the Black Monologues.

In an institution where titles were collected like souvenir coins, working with these organizations helped me to undo harmful notions of leadership without purpose. Though often unrecognized, the work of my last two years were the most fulfilling. It taught me to invest wisely and in communities you already belong to.

Bloom where you are planted, but also make sure the garden others inherit is well tended for them when they come along.

By grad school, which you will know if you’ve been following along with BGDGS, I was feeling lost again. I resented feeling forced to participate in my program’s student organization given that I felt the program often was a place of hostility for me. So I turned elsewhere for support at the institution, frequenting the Black Law Student Association gatherings and getting involved with a short lived Black undergraduate student publication, but nothing seemed to stick.

My solution was to turn to the digital. You know that story: I worked for a few years building up my network of Black graduate students and Black faculty to turn to at other institutions through Black Girl Does Grad School and Twitter. Between my thriving digital life and the various pockets I began to occupy at school, most notably with the Lemon Project, I began to feel more supported.

During this time, the Black Graduate Student Association began to emerge in a new iteration. It had once existed at the institution, but with little documentation, it was difficult to know much more about it. Madeline Williams worked to get this new formation of the organization off the ground, and in my thirst for community, I began to frequent meetings.

I would be lying if I say I hadn’t considered running for the executive board over the few years of the organization’s existence. But the timing was never right: first I was in the midst of comps, then trying to complete a first draft of the dissertation. So I settled into being a fairly active member.

But this year, two big shifts occurred: I joined the Arts & Sciences Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee (CDEI) and I began talking to my friend, Taylor, very seriously about transformative work.

Though seemingly unrelated, the two were inextricable. Through the CDEI, I gained the language to identify and articulate what I didn’t want in a university community. It then gave me ideas for possible solutions to these problems. By the end of the fall semester, I was able to articulate with ease the issues with pipelines, climate, and siloed diversity work, which was bolstered by my formal training in being able to articulate how power dynamics work from American Studies. But I quickly became frustrated that though we were very good at identifying, articulating and offering possible solutions, there seemed to be a disconnect, at least for me, between having a firm understanding of how these infrastructures work to disenfranchise and oppress, and breaking down solutions into actionable items.

In a word, I was faced with the gap between my values and my actions.

My friendship with Taylor has turned into an incubator for transformative thought. She makes me think harder and want to move with more intention. Before having these conversations with her, before we began our All About Love book club, I knew abolition made sense, I knew how love practices worked in theory, but I didn’t know how to center those ideas in my daily life. I didn’t know how to act on them.

What I began to understand was that transformation in our society begins at a community level. It begins with us practicing being loving towards each other. It begins with investing in each other. Small actions will lead to larger change.

Perhaps, I thought, I wouldn’t be able to take down the Academy, but I could cultivate a garden in community with others in which we are cared for and valued. Even though I plan to leave the academic space, I know others will come, so I began to ask: what tangible things can I do to make sure those who come to occupy this space will feel cared for and valued?

In doing this, in centering communication, connection, care and celebration, we can build a sustainable environment for us, outside of the structures of the Academy, where we matter first. And perhaps that won’t break the system down… but actively choosing care may disrupt it.

In that break, we have the potential to replace what doesn’t work with something new.

What I propose is a building on the great work already done and being done. I’m simply asking: How can we connect Black graduate students to resources outside of their BGSA and their school? How do we establish long term connections? How do we provide networks of care for our Black grad students? What can we do to ensure academic success and value the work that Black grads are doing?

I think some of the answers are to build on and with. Five years at my institution has shown a number of pockets throughout the university that are doing really amazing work. We need to be working with them. We need to, if possible, find financial support for the research Black grads do, as well as provide venues for us to share our findings in supportive environments. I can tap into my digital networks and skills to help us create a repository of resources for us so that we always have access to things like local childcare, hair services, and churches.

But one of the most important things I can do is to make it clear that this is a space that values you. You deserve to be valued and cared for. So how can we work on infrastructures to better the climate for existing, incoming and prospective students, so that they know they’re valued?

I definitely don’t have all the answers, but I’m so willing to try.

It’s time to make the digital, physical.