'Queens,' 'Ladies' and the Cost of Living Up to Titles

Image Source/Getty Images
Image Source/Getty Images

Even the positive terms we use for women have the potential to be harmful, Josie Pickens writes at Ebony.

I was raised by 'good women' to be a 'good girl,' was constantly scolded to behave 'properly,' and I obliged. As my body grew scandalous to the eye, and I reveled in my newfound curves, I was again cautioned against being 'whorish' — this at the tender age of twelve, while I still created fairytales with my Barbies.

Black girls' bodies are wrapped in shame and sex before we understand either. Before we manage to find ourselves, someone has — many someones have — already settled on our names and titles. 'Good girls,' ones like my mother raised me to be, graduate on to become 'proper young ladies.' And from there they are 'ladies,' then perhaps 'queens,' with the goal of being good mothers' and, finally, family matriarchs who seem to sit next to the Virgin Mary on her throne. Respectability is the common thread across it all.

I wonder though, do we ever live truly up to those titles? And if we do somehow, or at least pretend to, how much living do we miss in the process?


Read Josie Pickens' entire piece at Ebony.com.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.


Josie Pickens is an educator, culture critic and griot whose work focuses primarily on race and gender. Follow her musings on Twitter

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