I find it really weird when black people romanticize royalty. I know that we came from queens, kings, and warriors in Africa, I get that. But somewhere along the way we have found a way to change the real definition of royalty to suit our needs and fit a certain narrative, and that is harmful. At this point I think its important to remind people what royalty is, and get to the root of why we as black people are so hell bent on being considered royalty in our romantic relationships.
Rooting your black personhood on the idea that you are royalty may be endearing and empowering, but it is also oppressive and divisive. It’s time for us to unpack this.
I have a visceral reaction whenever a man calls me a queen, whether we are in a relationship or not. I know there are black women who love the idea of being a black queen with their black king, and a family full of black princesses and princes, it’s all real cute, but it’s not for me. I briefly wrote about the trauma I endured at the hands of my abuser, and on the road to recovery I realized that I had given him too much of me and I had to reel that back in. That started with the affirming language he used, which was based on me being his queen.
That man affirmed me whenever he got the chance, he praised my intelligence, work ethic, beauty, everything…and he was abusing me the whole time.
The subjectivity of this fake deep ass compliment can cause real harm. I was a queen Monday based on whatever subjective criteria he had in store for me, by Wednesday I no longer lived up to the title. In essence he gave me something to work towards/maintain throughout the entirety of our relationship.
My abuser called me a queen because HE thought I was. He thought I was attractive, he loved how I dressed, how I wore my hair, how I wore my makeup, he just loved everything about me, and he praised me for it, he put me on a pedestal. So I internalized his praise and compliments. I felt good about myself. He made me feel beautiful so I wore what made me feel good what made ME feel sexy, and almost instantly he retracted his compliments and praise and I became a hoe. He assumed that I was trying to attract other men, or that I was cheating on him. I didn’t understand the shift. He called me sexy, I agreed, internalized it, acted accordingly, and he took it back.
He took it back because he could. that was his way of asserting his power over me. The affirmations he projected onto me were not mine, they were his, therefore my confidence, my beauty, and my self-esteem was contingent upon his validation. If I tried to compliment myself or make myself feel good without his approval, he would shoot it down every time. Can anyone say emotional abuse?
I was only a queen when he said so, not when I said so, and therein lies my disdain with men calling me a queen.
Now, this is not to say that all men who call women queens are emotionally or physically abusive, it is the principle of it that bothers me and I think it needs to be addressed. Even if my abuser was not emotionally abusing me while simultaneously praising me, him calling me a queen would still have been rooted in patriarchal principles. Under no circumstance should a man be eager to provide a barometer of value in order to define a woman, I don’t give a shit if they do mean well. That is not their place. We are people and we are capable of defining ourselves and holding ourselves to a standard that we deem suitable.
It is absolutely oppressive for a man to define a woman. It is equally oppressive for a man to determine what attributes make a woman distinguished before she affirms those qualities about herself FIRST. In other words, give women space to define ourselves and support us accordingly. We do not need you to affirm us, what we need is space to affirm ourselves without your input, influence, and free of social stigma. Give women space.
I want black men to understand that you can love, empower, encourage, and support us without creating a standard for us to live up to, as if we only exist to please you. Because we absolutely do not. It is important for all men to understand that more than anything. In my opinion, that is the root of patriarchy and toxic masculinity: the belief that women exist for the consumption of men. No. We do not.
As a black woman I have noticed that the arbitrary rules of being a queen in the black community is based on the idea of serving black men, and displaying strength in the face of adversity without so much as breaking a sweat. It is so ugly, that I don’t ever see myself being flattered by any man complimenting my strength or rooting my value in my strength. But it is widely accepted due to the fact that black women internalize misogyny just as much as black men project it. It’s all just so fucking ugly. Keep your qualifiers.
Loyalty is a big deal in the black community, we take that shit serious because for centuries, black Americans could only depend on each other, and even though we have come a long way, we still heavily rely on each other, which has created some toxicity amongst us, especially in romantic relationships (re: submission). I touched on this briefly in my very first blog post about submission, but I want to push the needle forward just a little bit more. I want to talk about how we as black women allow black men to define us and how we so blindly accept the false narrative they push about themselves on the guise of being loyal.
Here’s the truth: Black men find honor in defining black women as queens, because black men think that they are kings. They are not. It’s time we clear this shit up.
Black men, what exactly are you the king of? A king is head of state, so what state are you the head of? Yourself? That means you have autonomy. Try again. Listen, we cannot distort the meaning of words to support a personal narrative, especially if that narrative has the ability to adversely affect others (re: black women). You all want to be honored and revered as black men, I get it, and I think you all deserve that, but we shouldn’t have to skew definitions in order to do so, and black women shouldn’t have to be used as a tool to solidify the social power of black men, because y’all think y’all are kings. That is toxic performative masculinity and it rears its ugly head when black men internalize the idea that they are kings and then try to crown black women as queens. The idea that a black woman should call a black man a king, or treat black men as if they are kings is inherently oppressive, especially with the rampant presence of misognyoir in our community. Essentially, black women calling black men kings is nothing more than blind submission based on the fact that we share skin, thus, making black men the king of black women. Hard pass.
A lot of the harmful toxic shit that men do to women is due to the fact that men are conditioned to believe that they are superior and they uphold that belief in many ways, and that includes language. So no, you are not a king and I’m not calling you a king. This is not a monarchy, you don’t run shit, and you most definitely will not assert your social power by attempting to crown me as a queen based on your subjective criteria. I can reject the assertion of your male privilege the same way I can acknowledge the way patriarchy afforded you that privilege. I’m not the one.
Calling a woman a queen is more than just a empty ass compliment, it is literally and figuratively a man composing specific criteria for women to live up to, maintain, and/or strive to be. It is inherently oppressive, because if it wasn’t men would have no problem when women queen themselves. If it wasn’t oppressive men would not feel the need to tell women what it means to be a queen, they would shut the fuck up and let us tell them what it means for us, and men would support it, not because we’re women, but because we’re people with autonomy. But here we are…
I understand the sentiment of wanting to empower and love women, but if your empowerment and love is anchored in patriarchal principles, I don’t want it, and I don’t find it endearing. I find it offensive that as a grown ass woman, I should be flattered by a man telling me that I’m a queen based on whatever protocols he came up with. I cannot overstate how much I love black men, but I refuse to be used as a pawn for any of y’all to flex your social power. The way black men romanticize royalty is performative, toxic, divisive, and oppressive. I don’t subscribe to the fake shit so I find it hard to find performative praise to be endearing.
When black women call ourselves or other black women queens it is more about empowerment and less about living up to someone else’s standard, maybe if black men empowered and supported us without trying to define us we wouldn’t feel the need to call ourselves queens. I understand the idea behind upholding a sense of honor within the black community, we need it, we need to be empowered, not just black women but black men as well. But you can’t empower one group at the expense of another group, that is not empowerment, that is oppression, and black people should understand that more than anyone. But again…here we are.
Black men, if you call black women queens because you are truly invested in the empowerment and support of black women then you should be aware of the space that you take up and make room for us to be our authentic selves without feeling the need to provide your two cents. You can love us, support us, empower us, and encourage us without creating a standard for us and slapping an empty ass title on it. Give us the space to choose what we anchor our worth in, at the end of the day, it’s none of your business anyway. Y’all should be more concerned with what you anchor your worth in instead of giving us a guideline on how to be queens for you.
Remember, we don’t exist for you and we never will. Let us be ourselves.