The Queen of My Self

The Queen of My Self

Women’s Power – Part 1

posted by Donna Henes

This article was written by a brilliant colleague, who I very much admire. She founded the Suppressed Histories Archives, an archive of hundreds of thousands of images of women of power throughout the ages and across cultures. The piece is divided into three parts.

Women’s Power
By Max Dashu,

What does that mean? Women who openly display their power, knowledge, and skill, receiving public recognition and honor. But also females who manage to wield power in societies that try to limit it or decree female submission; and where their leadership is stigmatized and their creativity disdained. Also, women who resist and overthrow oppressive traditions and regimes. Who break The Rules in defiance of unjust legal and religious “authorities.” Who pursue their vision in spite of the personal cost.

Women have determined the course of events and the forms of human culture. We originated, founded, governed, prophesied, created great art, fought for our rights, and for our peoples. These are the women edited out of history, their stories omitted, distorted, and replaced with an endless litany of men (and the occasional queen or meddling concubine). Our ignorance of these women is greatly compounded by the omission of information on societies that accorded females power in public life, diplomacy, religion, medicine, the arts as well as family structure and inheritance. Both racism and sexism are implicated in these silences and gaps.

We need a remedial history that reconstructs the female dimensions of human experience and achievement, that recovers the distorted and obliterated past of Africa, the Americas, and all other regions neglected by the standard textbooks and mass media. This will be a provisional history, because all the facts are not in yet, and previous interpretations are being reevaluated for gender, race, and colonial bias. More importantly, the indigenous oral histories have only barely begun to be integrated into mainstream narratives.

Women have often been relegated to the footnotes of history, and even those are highly selective. As Sandra Cisneros wrote of her search for Latina sheros, “We are the footnotes of the footnotes.” Yet the heritages of women of color, especially the indigenous cultures, supply the most dramatic examples in recent history of female power openly embraced and honored. But even Europe looks different when we look at the common women and include places like Bulgaria, Estonia, Corsica, or Iberian Galicia.

Women’s history demands a global perspective. There’s far more to it than Queen Elizabeth I or Susan B. Anthony. We need to refocus historical attention from the school of “famous women” (often royal females) to encompass broader groupings of women with power: clan mothers and female elders; priestesses, diviners, medicine women and healers; market women, weavers, and other female arts and professions. These “female spheres of power,” as I call them, vary greatly from culture to culture. Some of them, particularly the spiritual callings, retain aspects of women’s self-determination, even in societies that insist on formal subordination of female to male in private and public space.

Part 2 of Women’s Power tomorrow.

* Please send me your thoughts about power. Also stories of your own empowerment. When shared, these ideas and examples are extremely inspiring to others. Thanks.
   
***
The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

CONSULT THE MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™
Queen Mama Donna offers upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity.

 

Powerful Words

posted by Donna Henes

Here are some wise words of inspiration in regard to your relationship to power. Take them in and feel their energy work on you.

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.
- Alice Walker

The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for.
- Maureen Dowd

If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought.
- Peace Pilgrim

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
- Eleanor Roosevelt

I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning to sail my ship.
-  Louisa May Alcott  

When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed.
But when we are silent, we are still afraid.
So it is better to speak.
- Audre Lorde

Find out who you are and do it on purpose.
- Dolly Parton

It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from. The ability to triumph begins with you. Always.
- Oprah Winfrey

When I see the elaborate study and ingenuity displayed by women in the pursuit of trifles, I feel no doubt of their capacity for the most herculean undertakings.  
- Julia Ward Howe

But life is a battle: may we all be enabled to fight it well!
- Charlotte Bronte

You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” – Maya Angelou

Women are the only exploited group in history to have been idealized into powerlessness.  
- Erica Jong

Men are taught to apologize for their weaknesses, women for their strengths.  
- Lois Wyse
Words of Power

I do not wish them to have power over men, but over themselves.  
- Mary Wollstonecraft

I’m tough, I’m ambitious, and I know exactly what I want.  If that makes me a bitch, okay.  
- Madonna Ciccone

I am not afraid. I was born to do this.
-Joan of Arc

We never know how high we are
Till we are called to rise;
And then, if we are true to plan,
Our statures touch the skies.
- Emily Dickinson

* Please send me your thoughts about power. Also stories of your own empowerment. When shared, these ideas and examples are extremely inspiring to others. Thanks.

 ***
The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

CONSULT THE MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™
Queen Mama Donna offers upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity.

Tend and Befriend: The Power of Women’s Friendships

posted by Donna Henes

“Men walk, women talk.” The veracity of this the popular saying was recently proved in a landmark study conducted by two women scientists at UCLA.

The long-held idea that the familiar “fight or flight” mechanism was the universal human response to stress, (based of studies that were conducted with only male subjects) was turned on its ear by Drs. Laura Klein and Shelley Taylor. Their research suggests that women don’t necessarily run away or engage is confrontational combat when they bare threatened. According to their stunning findings, women seem to operate from a larger range of behavioral options.

“Until this study was published, scientists generally believed that when people experience stress, they trigger a hormonal cascade that revs the body to either stand and fight or flee as fast as possible,” explains Laura Cousino Klein, Ph.D., now an Assistant Professor of Biobehavioral Health at Penn State University and one of the study’s authors. “It’s an ancient survival mechanism left over from the time we were chased across the planet by saber-toothed tigers.”

But women react completely differently. In stressful situations, women experience a cascade of brain chemicals that cause us to make and maintain friendships with other women. Specifically, the hormone oxytocin, released as part of the stress response in women, lessens the fight or flight response and prompts us to tend children, old people, and animals, and gather together with other women instead.

And once women do engage in this tending or befriending, studies suggest, more oxytocin is released, which further counteracts stress and produces a comforting effect. “This calming response does not occur in men,” says Dr. Klein, “because testosterone — which men produce in high levels when they’re under stress — seems to reduce the effects oxytocin. Estrogen seems to enhance it.”

What do you do when you are worried, or threatened, stressed to the max, or scared shitless? You call your girlfriend! Consider the enormous significance of this behavior and the ramifications of its effect on our health and well-being. Study after study, years of research, has found that social ties reduce our risk of disease by lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and cholesterol. “There’s no doubt,” says Dr. Klein, “that friends are helping us live longer.”

Friendships not only keep us alive, they enhance our quality of life. The famed Nurses’ Health Study from Harvard Medical School found that the more friends women had, the less likely they were to develop serious physical impairments as they aged, and the more likely they were to be leading joyful lives. The results were so significant that the researchers concluded that not having close friends or confidantes was as detrimental to your health as smoking or carrying extra weight!

Even the event of the death of a spouse, perhaps the most intense stress inducer, failed to result in any new physical impairments or permanent loss of vitality in women who had a close friend with whom they confide and commiserate. Those without friends did not fare nearly so well.

 * Please send me your thoughts about power. Also stories of your own empowerment. When shared, these ideas and examples are extremely inspiring to others. Thanks.

 ***
The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

CONSULT THE MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

Queen Mama Donna offers upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity.

Hymns to Hestia

posted by Donna Henes

Hestia, Goddess Of The Hearth And Home
By Anne Baird, BC, Canada

Hestia is the “unknown goddess.”
The few statues that exist of her
show a sturdy matron,
dressed in a sensible toga,
her face often shadowed by a cowl.
Her anonymity is deliberate.
She embodies all those women
who choose to stay at home,
and keep the home fires burning.
She is the one we come home to.
The one we pray will be there, and always is.
She is the heart and soul of the family.
The solid core of civilized society.
Where would we be without Hestia?
Her groundedness allows her children to fly.
And to fly home again.
Blessed Hestia, of all the goddesses,
You are the most essential.

    
Hestia’s Fire Haiku
By Lorraine Margueritte Gasrel Black, NY
 
A cord of wood piled
to warm the hearth, home sweet home
mice take residence

Hestia Poem
By Melia Suez, CO
 
Hestia, maiden pure,
Has no desire for love.
First and last born,
Her hand was sought
By Sea and Light.
Completely unwilling,
Stubborn even,
She refused to be a matron,
Swearing on the head of the Father
To be maiden all her days.
Given was she, honor high,
A place in every home and temple
And the richest offerings,
both first and last.
Hail Hestia, Chief of the Goddesses
May you warm my home
And make all who enter welcome.

To Hestia
By Hesiod 

Hestia, you who tend the holy house of the lord Apollo,
the Far-shooter at goodly Pytho,    
with soft oil dripping ever from your locks, come now into this house,
come, having one mind with Zeus the all-wise
draw near, and withal bestow grace upon my song.

***
The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

CONSULT THE MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™
Queen Mama Donna offers upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity.

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