By DaiJhah Owens
Domestic Violence is an issue very close to my heart. I’m so passionate about it because it is one of the leading killers of black women. The vast majority of black women who are murdered are murdered by their husband, boyfriend, or partner. So as you can imagine, I was extremely disturbed (to say the least) when I saw a video circulating on social media of professional boxer, Gervonte Jones, grabbing the mother of his children by the neck and forcing her out of an event.
Now, I can write an entire dissertation on Gervonte and his actions, but that is not the focus of this article. I would like to address the comment section of the video. They were disgusting! It broke my heart to see the comments made about this black woman, by black women.
One of the core components of toxic masculinity is victim-blaming. I read hundreds of comments from black women reading a little like this, “she knew who he was when she laid down and made a baby with him” or “he ain’t just start beating her, she used to it” or “she must like it, she stuck around.” These comments were made with such conviction as if it explains it or makes what his actions justifiable. Some way, somehow she has been made responsible for his actions that night.
Black women, gather around and listen carefully: anytime you see another sister being physically abused and your response is any of the above statements, you are complicit in her abuse. Saying these comments does not win you brownie points; it just furthers our own oppression as black women. The only comment needed in situations of domestic violence or any form of abuse towards black women, is “how can I sit with you and support you?”
We have to understand that toxic masculinity is a system of oppression just like racism. It is not simply the actions of a “few bad men,” it is an established system built on the oppression of one gender, to uplift the other. And like racism, we ALL have been socialized and conditioned with these beliefs.
Comments like the ones above are ways for us to absolve ourselves of any responsibility to this woman. It is easy to ignore someone’s pain when you believe they are the cause of it. Instead of coming to this woman’s defense black women collectively dragged her, and we didn’t need any man’s help to do it!
I’m sorry, but black women, we have too many enemies, we cannot afford to make enemies of each other. We battle racism and sexism simultaneously, and it is tiring for us all. Kicking another sister while she’s down will not bring you any closer to being seen as fully human by society.
Hold each other accountable for our bad choices, lovingly critique when needed. But NEVER drag another sister through the mud. The same way we have to be vigilant against systemic racism is the same energy we need in dismantling the system of toxic masculinity.
How have you upheld toxic beliefs about black women? What are you doing to unlearn these beliefs and better support your sisters?
One black woman’s plight has to be the plight of us all!
DaiJhah Owens is a Contributing Writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC. DaiJhah is passionate about shifting political power to oppressed groups through education. She believes there is nothing more powerful than an educated black woman who can smell political BS a mile away! Connect with her on Instagram at @d_nakhole!