“We either niggas or Kings
We either bitches or Queens”
– Mos Def: ‘Thieves in the Night’
There seems to be a new cultural discourse towards referring to respected/respectable women as Queens, although it’s down-low been around forever where I’m from. It’s supposed to be flattering to belong to that category and a compliment when directed towards you. But is it really? People have also been referring to themselves as such as a way to empower and uplift themselves, often times from histories of being oppressed entities.
Personally, I value myself for my humanity and find it amateurish to be attributed that title as a way of flattery. For starters, it is unoriginal and overplayed. More importantly though, it implies hierarchy. By no means do I believe that you need to be above other people in order to be valuable. It promotes these ideas of superiority as a way of deriving respect. Why can’t we just respect women for their humanity and normality, instead? Why do they have to go from belonging to categories of extreme disrespect to categories of extreme honor. We are just people with brains, personalities, and originalities like the rest of em. I think most of us are interested in becoming equal members of our communities, having our voices be as important as other intelligent beings in our surroundings, and such basic things that we have been deprived of, historically. Instead, we seem to be placing ourselves back into the distinction of classes to redeem self-esteem. To me, this is counterproductive.
Dictionary.com defines queens in some of the following ways:
1) a female sovereign or monarch
2) the wife or consort of a king
…and so on.
Okay yeah, who cares about the English Dictionary and the European perspective of words. But inherently, the word Queen is not really that flattering at all. In the first definition, I’m down with ‘sovereign’ (I do question my sovereignty though…who is really free in this world?), but ‘monarch’ is one of those terms that imply domination over other people. And in the second definition, it enters right back into the worlds of sexism because you can’t have hierarchies and equality at the same time. I will even go so far as to say that the word is reminiscent of capitalist ideas of competition. The direction I imagine us moving towards in order to harbor prosperity is not the isolating kind that comes about as a result of competition and superiority. After all, one successful individual cannot improve a society. For a society to flourish, we need each individual to contribute their individuality. We need opinions and oppositions to learn. We need everyone to step up and understand their own value, then share it. We need to not only be our best selves but to bring out the best in those around us. We are responsible for nurturing each other with good ideas, thoughts, and feelings. In this way then, we are fundamentally equals (in an ideal world, anyways). I doubt that much thought goes into anyone’s use of the word but it’s something to think about. If we are going to bother changing the diction and discourse around us, might as well craft it mindfully.
Oh especially if you are a future cutie/suitor for this fine young lady, please refrain for using words like ‘Queen’ to refer to me. You sure as hell won’t be no ‘King’ to me. Just something along these lines, as Ms. Jill Scott so eloquently puts it:
“Your background? It ain’t squeaky clean, shit. Sometimes, we’ve all got to swim upstream.You ain’t no saint, we all a sinner. But you put your good foot down and make your soul a winner.I respect that.Man, you’re so phat. And you’re all that. Plus supreme.Then you’re humble. Man, I’m numb yo, with feeling. I can feel everything that you bringgggg.”