Listen to Black Women

“for ordinary African Americans, coping with hegemonic gender ideology can be so demanding that generating alternatives can seem virtually impossible. But the importance of this task cannot be underestimated because African American survival may depend on it. One important task lies in rejecting dominant gender ideology, in particular, its use of the thesis of “weak men, strong women” as a source of Black social control. Because hegemonic masculinity equates strength with dominance, an antiracist politics must challenge this connection. Within this project, the fundamental premise of any progressive Black gender ideology is that it cannot be based on someone else’s subordination. This means that definitions of Black masculinity that rely on the subordination of Black women, poor people, children, LGBT people, or anyone else become invalid. Definitions of Black femininity that do not challenge relations of sexism, economic exploitation, age, heterosexism, and other markers of social inequality also become suspect. Rather than trying to be strong within existing gender ideology, the task lies in rejecting a gender ideology that measures masculinity and femininity using gendered definitions of strength. In this endeavor to craft a more progressive Black gender ideology, African American men and women face similar yet distinctive challenges. The task for African American men lies in developing new definitions of masculinity that uncouple strength from its close ties to male dominance. Good Black men need not rule their families with an iron hand, assault one another, pursue endless booty calls, and always seem to be “in control” in order to avoid the sigma of weakness. The task for African American women lies in redefining strength in ways that simultaneously enable Black women to reclaim historical sources of female power, yet reject the exploitation that has often accompanied that power. Good Black women need not be stoic mules whose primary release from work and responsibility comes once a week on Sunday morning. New definitions of strength would enable Black men and women alike to be seen as needing and worthy of one another’s help and support without being stigmatized as either overly weak or unnaturally strong.”

Patricia Hill Collins, Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism

(Additional/Canon of) Reading by Queer-identified/women-bodied and women-identified African American writers:

Combahee River Collective Statement, 1986 HTML
“intersectionality,” Kimberlé Crenshaw, 1991 Columbia Law School
“blackness,” w/ Saidiya V. Hartman, 1997 Quotes
“politic of domination,” w/ bell hooks, 1999 PDF
“matrix of domination,” w/ Patricia Hill Collins, 2000
“misogynoir,” w/ Moya Bailey + Trudy, 2008 Feminist Media Studies