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Please! Black Men Are Not Marginalized On The Internet

Monday, December 26, 2011 Leave a Comment
Let’s be honest, Women run the Black blogosphere. Though the overall ratio of men to women who read and write blogs is roughly the same, these demographic trends don’t seem to hold for black writers and readership. And I wouldn’t call that a bad thing. The Digital Sisterhood demonstrates that after centuries of being relegated to the margins, Black women are eager to explore ourselves and learn from each other in public.

The pervasiveness of Black female voices has expectedly riled resentment. Relationship blogger Dr. J writes:
“So how do some popular female bloggers who aren’t interested in talking about sex keep large readerships entertained? If you asked me, it seems as though they are constantly bringing men down, also known as blanketed hate for men, or Misandry.”
He goes on to explain a phenomena he unfortunately calls the “Domestic Violence Effect”:
“...because every man knows that you cannot simply go around bashing women and get away with it. I’ve titled it, the Domestic Violence Effect, men can never attack women, but when a woman does it, the man should grow thicker skin and never, under any circumstances, respond to an attack with a counterattack.”

I would be remiss to not point out how the domestic violence analogy, in this context, is ill-conceived. 85% of domestic violence victims are women; 1 in 4 women will experience abuse in her lifetime. Why would one take issue with men being encouraged to exercise good judgment in confrontations with women? But I digress...

In his myopia, the author neglects the fact that men routinely “get away with it.” Take a quick look at SBM’s top posts, and you’ll find titles like “Ten Things Men Find Unattractive in Women But Probably Won’t Tell You,” “8 Signs That Girl Might Be Hoe …,” and “8 Things Women Just Don’t Get.” These are not exactly complimentary pieces. The success of pseudo-relationship gurus on and offline depends on women being just as eager to receive the lashings as men are to dole them out.

Dr. J's musings struck me because this isn't the first time I've seen a black man on the Internet use the term. There seems to be a perception that men are somehow marginalized in the digital arena; when in reality, Black men’s voices are elevated and amplified online just as they are offline.

Widespread misandry in digital spaces which cater to Black women is a myth. Perhaps the author is so used to Black women falling over themselves to avoid bruising the Black Male Ego that he perceives the absence of this behavior as “misandry.”

I am an infrequent visitor of the Black big love blogs. I do love Max Fab’s take, but beyond that I’m out of the loop. This piece caught my eye because it exemplifies how easy it is to latch on to a narrative of imagined dominance. It’s not just for delusional Tea Partiers.

Related: 30 Black Women Bloggers You Should Know

Much like reverse racism, reverse sexism is an attempt to obfuscate real privilege and oppression. These men are emboldened by pseudo-intellectual piffle that gets printed by “reputable” publications like Psychology Today. (Yes, the very same people who brought us the “Black Women, You Shole Is Ugly” article.) According to Professor Anthony Synnott:
Alice Walker's "The Color Purple" won the Pulitzer and is totally misandric, as are the best-sellers by Terry MacMillan. The movies were also were also very popular among women. Misandry sells. Why these black women should demonize black men, compounding sexism and racism, I don't know. It just reinforces racism.
Do you hear that? Forget structural oppression and global white supremacy. Black women are to blame for compounding the sexism and racism perpetuated against Black men.

Cries of male-bashing are based on the patently-wrong assertion that misandry is somehow comparable to misogyny, thus we have to take the complaint seriously. It is not; therefore, we do not.

Yes, there are individual women who hate men. Men do even suffer discrete acts of discrimination; however, men were not bred in a society that devalues their worth in virtually all contexts. Unlike misogyny, misandry isn't tied to a deeply-rooted system of institutional constraints. Call it a double standard if you wish. That is the truth.

As I mentioned before, Black women spend an inordinate amount of time reassuring men of their value in our communities. Even while we discuss our own unique set of issues and challenges, we must constantly check in to make sure our brothers know they are not under attack. The cycle is counterproductive as it further insures that men remain at the center of discussion; furthermore, the constant back-rubbing is exhausting and detracts from our ability to get to work.

The ongoing Black Male Privilege debate provides a prime example. The dispute has reached a number of platforms, and the response has been predictably divided along gender lines. Professor L’heureux Lewis defines BMP as, “a system of built in and often overlooked systematic advantages that center the experience and concerns of Black men while minimizing the power that Black males hold.”

While women confirm BMP’s existence with observations and experiences, men deny culpability while dismissing the idea as simply an attempt to “pile on.” Check the blog comments; a cadre of sistas waiting to jump to defend their mates can always be found.

Misogyny is real. Misandry, however, is an anti-feminist buzzword trotted out to silence women. Many Black men refuse to see themselves as having any privilege, and it is that denial which tears our community apart not angry Black women who can’t wait to slander good brothers in blog posts and comments.

Women are drawn to blogs and blogging in large part because they provide safe spaces to discuss pertinent issues. Women should not and will be shamed for speaking our unfiltered truths.

Kimberly Foster is the Editor and Publisher of For Harriet. Email her at Kimberly@ForHarriet.com with comments or find her on Twitter.
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