Growing up, the rules of womanhood I was conditioned to were about smallness, and taking up little space in the world. I grew up believing I had to be beautiful before anything else I did mattered. I learned to be ashamed of any response to my person as though it was my fault, and that included abuse. I was taught to be quiet, or at the very least easy, as in, “Don’t rock the boat,” and to be of service to others, even when it was detrimental to my person.
Rules like these are what keep us from learning how to self-govern—and keep us out of government. To become powerful leaders we need to eradicate ourselves of this conditioning.
#Queenshit is a new set of rules I propose to move us forward. The embodiment of these rules will change the traditional narrative of womanhood, and give us space to determine our values for ourselves.
#Queenshit Rule #1. Beauty is Subjective and Our Own to Define. You get the space to define what beauty means to you, and I get the space to do the same for me. Maybe your body is a force of nature and utilitarian, great! Maybe you are a fancy lady (like me), wonderful! There is a huge difference between liking to decorate yourself and believing that you are decor. We deserve to determine our own values about beauty for ourselves, and give each other the space to do the same.
#Queenshit Rule #2. We Deserve to Feel Safe in Our Bodies. Full stop. Now, when we hear someone has been assaulted we will ask "Is she ok?” and, “Does she have support?" to effectively change the narrative that places blame in the wrong place: the victim. And when she is not here to ask the question herself, we will ask "Why did they kill her?" and not "What did she do wrong?" We will put the onus of violent crime on the perpetrator. We will stand together to oppose violence against each other be it private, public, or state sanctioned, until abuse is no longer a right of passage for any of us.
#Queenshit Rule #3. Our Voices are Powerful and Valuable. We will affirm this by listening to one another. Right now, we are at the forefront of a civil rights movement and three major factions of it—Black Lives Matter, the water protectors at Standing Rock, the Women's March on Washington—are all founded, and led, by women. We will listen to each other, not those who seek to diminish our work or misrepresent it. We will accept critique from each other as opportunities to improve our leadership and recognize our inherent advantages. We will learn from each other, evolve our thinking and though that, actively work to dismantle privilege. And we will speak up, for ourselves and for each other, finding the home our voices deserve.
#Queenshit Rule #4. We Will Take Care of Ourselves and Each Other. The work to undo what we have learned about ourselves and others will be challenging, but we are not martyrs. #Queenshit is the radical choice to be in the driver’s seat of our own lives, and the acknowledgment that we deserve to explore ourselves and our potential. It's the powerful recognition that we all deserve our own time, care, and attention, and because of that, #Queenshit is a model of leadership that is sustainable.
Leadership Starts Here.
Stand proud in your body like your mother gave it to you, because she did. Raise your head high and look directly in the eyes of anyone who stands in your way. We are not decoration. We will not be prey. We will not be ashamed. We will define ourselves, and give one another cushy room to do the same. Your actions give permission to others, and your strength creates more strength. We can change everything, but first we have to change our minds about ourselves and each other. We need to let go of the ways we are asked to be small before we can realize we are called to be great.
It’s time for us to lead together and I don’t trust anyone but us to change the limiting confines of what society has allowed us to be thus far.
We can do all of this.
I have to believe this is possible because my baby is watching and our children will inherit what we choose to do now.
It's a way of doing. It's a way of being. It's the rules, but most importantly, it's the way we rule. Together.
We are the generation of women who will embody just that.