Female, Womban, Queen
Hotep Hallmarks That Need to Die
The year 2016 is upon us. Many of y’all are bumping that Lauryn Hill MTV Unplugged album from ’02 and praising yourself for keeping your 3rd eye open, but there is much progress to be made. Staying woke requires constant vigilance. There’s no room for applauding half-consciousness and veiled misogyny in the movement. I’m gonna need you to catch up. In order to assist you, I’ve compiled a short list of terms you use for women that absolutely need to die in the new year.
This one’s been explained before, and in more detail, but I need to reiterate it because I still hear it all the time and…
Whenever anyone begins a diatribe with the phrase:
Females these days…
I do a pre-cursory eye roll because I already know that they’re about to say some dumb shit.
Please don’t. Yes, I know, it’s a scientifically appropriate descriptor, but the tone of it as an object is always mad dehumanizing. It makes a much better adjective than noun. When I hear someone use it it feels like I’m listening to one of those Nat Geo specials about mating animals during a segment about the female specimen. People who use the term “female” typically come with a whole plethora of hand-me-down concepts about the supposed inherent differences between females and men, which are bogus. You sound stupid.
No. NO! I guess I can see your inspiration. I know the etymology of the word woman in latin literally breaks down to womb-man, but for real y’all?
From one mother to a bunch of internet strangers:
Yes, giving life was magical and empowering. Yes, it was a defining moment in my life. But, no, my uterus/reproductive system does not define my womanhood.
Because I’m a person, not an incubator. Beyond that, not all women want to reproduce. Furthermore, not all women can reproduce. Most importantly, a womb does not determine gender, and womban is a smelly heap of cis-normative bullshit. Wombs don’t make womanhood. Wombs don’t make womanhood. Women make womanhood, one at a time, however they decide to.
We will never be liberated if we pretend that trans and genderqueer people don’t exist. We’ll also never be liberated if we only deem women who are equal parts virgin and mother to be worthy. That trickle-down justice shit needs to be put to rest. You aren’t woke if you don’t see all of us. You aren’t pro-Black if you ignore those of us deeper in the margins.
Alright, this one will probably be a point of contention between us.
To soften you up, I’m gonna quote one of your favs:
“I find it distressing there’s never no in between / we either niggas or kings/ we either bitches or queens.”
Mos Def/ Black Star, “Thieves In The Night”
Queen rubs me the wrong way. For some of you, it’s empowering, and if it is, keep it. I won’t hold it against you.
But it bothers me for two reasons:
First, because it is assigned and stripped at the discretion of the word wielder. I’m usually called queen when I do something that favors heteronormative patriarchal standards. I’m called queen with regard to my status as a wife. And, of course, my husband is my king. I’m also called queen because of my status as a mother.
But am I a queen if I get an abortion? Am I a queen if I have a lot of sex partners? Am I a queen if I don’t want a king? Am I a queen if I’m gay? Am I a queen if I relax my hair? Am I a queen if I’m talking about some shit you don’t approve of? Am I a queen if I tell you to piss off for catcalling me? Or am I a female, then? A bitch, maybe?
I don’t trust it. I don’t like it.
When men call me a queen, there are typically undertones of an implied comparative statement lurking beneath the surface. The comparative says that some women are queens and some aren’t, and I am one of the good ones. I don’t buy it and I don’t want to be idolized. It’s dehumanizing from the other end of the spectrum. I am content to be regarded as a person. Grant me my humanity, and I am satisfied.
The second reason being called queen bothers me is that I am the descendent of slaves. I don’t know what my ancestors were before that. The likelihood that they were royalty is slim. The likelihood that they were ordinary people, part of the masses, under the boot of the people in power is large. I don’t perceive queendom positively. I don’t seek to control; I seek autonomy. I seek liberation. I dishonor my ancestors by assuming a role and narrative that devalues them and upholds the kinds of systems that oppressed them.
If you’re mad about this, it might be because you’re guilty of using one or more of these terms.
Instead of channeling your anger into cursing me out in the comments or a spirited e-mail, I challenge you to use that energy to reflect on what it is you’re really saying when you say the aforementioned words. If you think you’ve been complimenting women by using any of these terms, and don’t know how to express your admiration without womban or queen, I challenge you to get creative. Call a woman dynamic. Call her powerful. Call her celestial. Call her strong. Call her ingenious. Call her talented. Call her inspiring. Call her what she wants. But don’t call her female, womban, queen.