Misogynoir in Medical Media: On Caster Semenya and R. Kelly
Misogynoir describes the co-constitutive, anti-Black, and misogynistic racism directed at Black women, particularly in visual and digital culture (Bailey, 2010). The term is a combination of misogyny, the hatred of women, and noir, which means black but also carries film and media connotations. It is the particular amalgamation of anti-Black racism and misogyny in popular media and culture that targets Black trans and cis women. Representational images contribute to negative societal perceptions about Black women, which can precipitate racist gendered violence that harms health and can even result in death. As philosopher Linda Alcoff asserts, racism depends on perceptible difference to determine which bodies are expendable, and in this cultural moment of Black hypervisibility, Black women are particularly vulnerable (Philosophy). I use two culture examples to explore the real life impact of misogynoir in medical media. I explore the ways in which the biomedical knowledge produced by physicians reinforces certain bodies as normal and others as pathological. The case of Caster Semenya as well as the trial of R&B star R. Kelly, allow me to introduce Black feminist health science studies as a critical intervention into current medical curriculum reform conversations.
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