Misogynoir: The Pyramid of Hate

Misogynoir: The Pyramid of Hate

The Pyramid of Hate

The recent demonisation of Diane Abbott by one of the Conservative Party’s biggest donors expressed a level of racism in Britain that most of us would find unacceptable.

Dehumanising language has been the precursor to racist violence, lynchings and mass murder throughout history.

This hierarchal pyramid of discrimination illustrates how prejudice and discrimination can escalate to more severe forms of violence and oppression.

Developed by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to help understand the progression of bias-motivated behaviour.

The relationship between the most extreme acts of racial violence often expressed as genocide to other lesser acts of violence such as prejudice or verbal hatred.

It is indeed concerning that individuals responsible for escalating acts of hatred or violence are often not held accountable for their actions.

Addressing these issues requires a concerted effort to challenge prejudice and discrimination at all levels of society, hold perpetrators accountable for their actions, and promote understanding and empathy across diverse communities.

Frank Hester, a businessman from West Yorkshire expressed looking at Diane Abbott makes you “want to hate all black women” and said the MP “should be shot”,


Myths and Misinformation

It is the myths and misinformation that fuel and contribute to an environment where assaults, threatening behaviour and discrimination are more likely to occur.

This rinse-and-repeat playbook has been used to justify appalling and denigrating behaviours forever.

When individuals in positions of power use inflammatory language or promote harmful stereotypes, it can embolden others to engage in discriminatory behaviour and contribute to a climate of hostility and violence.

This includes robust legal protections against hate speech and discrimination, as well as initiatives to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of public life.

At the base of the pyramid are attitudes and beliefs that form the foundation for discrimination, such as stereotypes, biases, and jokes.

As these attitudes are normalised and reinforced, they can lead to acts of prejudice, discrimination, and bias-motivated violence.

Verbal harassment, social exclusion, and vandalism represent the middle levels of the pyramid, where discriminatory behaviour becomes more overt and harmful.

Moving up the pyramid, the severity of the actions increases, culminating in acts of violence and, ultimately, genocide at the top.

These extreme forms of violence are often fuelled by dehumanisation and scapegoating, where targeted groups are portrayed as less than human or responsible for society’s problems.

Every escalation is more likely to occur when the context includes the presence of ‘lesser’ manifestations of prejudice and hatred.

Some of this may seem a bit extreme, but as each level of hatred becomes accepted or normal, society moves up the scale of hatred.


What this looks like?

  • Globally the language of Anti-Black racism is the language which evokes and celebrates the historic violence against Black people.


  • In the period leading to the Nazi Holocaust. Over 6 million Jews were systematically murdered having been dehumanised as pests.


  • In the time leading up to the genocide in Rwanda, radio stations described Tutsis as cockroaches and vermin. Over one million were murdered.


  • In Bosnia, the massacre of thousands of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica was preceded by Serb radio and newspapers referring to Bosniaks as “others” and “aliens”


  • The recent dehumanisation of Palestinians to justify the genocide and mass violence against them


7 Manifestations of Misogynoir in Organisational Settings

Today, I specifically want to draw your attention to anti-blackness and the hatred towards black women, it shows up in various ways, especially when are a confident leader.

Being bold, direct and holding people accountable does not make you aggressive.

Addressing misogynoir in organisations requires a multifaceted approach that includes implementing policies and practices to promote equity and inclusion,

Providing training to raise awareness of intersectional issues, fostering a culture of accountability for discriminatory behaviours,

And, actively listening to the experiences and needs of Black women employees.Here are some examples of misogynoir and how it may show up in your organisation:


1. Double Discrimination: Black women often face double discrimination due to their race and gender. In organisations, this can result in being overlooked for promotions or opportunities, receiving lower pay compared to their counterparts, and experiencing micro-aggressions from colleagues and superiors. For example, Black women may find themselves excluded from networking opportunities or subjected to stereotypes that undermine their competence and professionalism.


2. Tokenisation: In efforts to appear diverse, organisations may tokenise Black women by hiring them in disproportionately low numbers or confining them to certain roles perceived as more “suitable” based on racial or gender stereotypes. This tokenisation can create feelings of isolation and pressure to represent an entire demographic, rather than being valued for individual skills and contributions.


3. Hostile Work Environment: Black women often encounter hostile work environments where they are subjected to racialised and gendered harassment, discrimination, and bullying. This can include derogatory comments about their appearance, assumptions about their capabilities, and being held to higher standards than their white counterparts. Such environments can lead to stress, anxiety, and burnout among Black women employees.


4. Lack of Support and Mentorship: Due to systemic biases, Black women may struggle to find mentors and sponsors within organisations who can support their professional development and advocate for their advancement. This lack of support can hinder career progression and contribute to feelings of isolation and imposter syndrome.


5. Invisibility and Erasure: Black women’s contributions and achievements may be overlooked or attributed to others, leading to invisibility and erasure within organisational narratives. This erasure perpetuates stereotypes and undermines the value of Black women’s labour and expertise.


6. Unequal Access to Opportunities: Black women may face barriers to accessing training, resources, and opportunities for career advancement within organisations. This can perpetuate disparities in pay, job satisfaction, and representation in leadership positions.


7. Resistance to Intersectional Analysis: Organisations may fail to recognise or address the intersectional experiences of Black women, instead opting for one-size-fits-all diversity and inclusion initiatives that do not adequately address the unique challenges faced by Black women.


Daring to Thrive

We must continue to acknowledge and address misogynoir to create more equitable and supportive environments where all employees can thrive.

Unfortunately, the Frank Hestor’s of our society will continue to exist.

I am also sure he will continue to thrive in business and cash his cheques from government bodies.

Perpetuating systemic inequalities and hindering the advancement and well-being of Black women and anyone else who is on any diverse spectrum of intersectionality.

If you are a Black woman reading this don’t let them weaponise your leadership! Keep daring to thrive and show up as a tall poppy tall.