The Queen of My Self

The Queen of My Self

Creole Queens

posted by Donna Henes

Here are two of the Queens of Haiti who walk in the footsteps of Queen Anacaona:

Yvonne Hakim Rimpel
Feminist, Journalist

Born in Port-au-Prince in 1906, Rimpel was a founder of the first Haitian feminist organization, the Women’s League for Social Action. It was founded in 1934 by a group of women intellectuals, professionals and activists from the middle and upper classes, and played an important role in politics for the next 25 years, focusing mainly on legal rights: suffrage, access to education, violence against women  and equality for married women. In 1951, she founded Escale, a bi-weekly news revue, and for six years she was its director, driving force and main editor.

The Constitution of 1950 gave women a limited right to vote (with their husbands’ permission), but it was not until 1957 that they obtained full equal suffrage.

Queen Rimpel supported Louis Déjoie in the presidential election that year and was an active participant in the electoral campaign. When François Duvalier emerged as winner, she criticized the  manipulative engineering of his victory.

On the night of January  5th 1958, the vicious dictator Duvalier sent a group of masked men to Rimpel’s house. They dragged her off into the night. The next morning she was found lying naked in a street in Petionville, beaten unconscious, covered in blood, and probably raped. After two months in hospital, she recovered, but she never wrote again. She maintained her silence until her death in June 1986.

Marie Chauvet
Novelist

The best known and most prolific of Haiti’s female novelists, Marie Chauvet was born in Port-au-Prince in 1917. Her first novel, Fille D’Haiti (1953), about the mulatto daughter of a prostitute who tries to escape her origins in the hypocritical world of the Haitian elite, was awarded the Prix de l’Alliance Francaise. La Danse sur le Volcan (1957), depicting the events leading up to the Haitian Revolution, was translated into English and Dutch.

Chauvet’s most famous work, the trilogy of novellas, Amour, Colere et Folie, was published in Paris in 1968. The author was unable to return to Haiti from France because the novel dealt with the behavior of corrupt Duvalierist officials and the sadistic Tontons Macoutes. Her husband begged her not to publish it, and when she did over his objections, he not only left her, but also bought and destroyed all the copies of the book sent to Haiti. She died in exile in New York in 1975, and was only awarded national honors after the end of the Duvalier dictatorship. Amour, Colere et Folie was released in English in 2009. 

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

 

Golden Flower Queen of Hispaniola

posted by Donna Henes

All eyes have been on Haiti of late six months after the deadly earthquake. Our hearts go out to those who have lost so much, especially those who had so very little to begin with. Many of us have thought of Haiti as being a desperately poor, severely undeveloped, politically corrupt and brutal, socially unstable and environmentally devastated place.

While all of these things are true, Haiti has always been a country rich in natural beauty, cultural uniqueness and well deserved pride. Haiti was the first independent nation in Latin America and the first black-led republic in the world when it gained independence as part of a successful slave rebellion in 1804.  

Perhaps the most valuable Haitian treasure is the generation upon generation of strong willed, out-spoken, effective, ethical and influential women leaders starting with Anacaona, Queen of Hispanola

Anacaona, or Golden Flower, was born in 1464 in Yaguana (today the town of Léogâne), the flourishing capital of Xaragua, the most prosperous and heavily populated of the indigenous Taino kingdoms at the time of the European invasion. Her brother and later her husband were two of the five most powerful chiefs. And she, herself, had a powerful matrilineal heritage. Anacaona and her brother Bohechio negotiated as a team with Columbus when he demanded tribute from the local tribes. Their talks were friendly and successful.

She became Queen of Xaragua after her brother’s death. Her husband Caonabo, suspected of having organized the attack on La Navidad, the Spanish settlement on northern Haiti, was captured and shipped to Spain, dying in a shipwreck during the journey.

Queen Anacaona was widely admired for the ballads, ballets, poetry and plays that she composed as well as for the elegance of her court. Her realm of Xaragua was the only Taino territory on the island that had not succumbed to Spanish conquest.

in 1502 a new Spanish governor arrived with some 2500 troops. He requested a meeting with Anacaona, and, in 1503, the Queen and chieftains of the province prepared a lavish reception for him and his men. In the middle of the entertainment, the governor gave a signal, and the Spanish seized the Xaraguayans, tied them to poles and killed them. Eighty Taino leaders were slaughtered. Anacaona was saved but was captured, and in September 1503 she was taken to Santo Domingo where she was hung.

Queen Anacaona is still very much revered in Haiti, where she is considered to be a primordial founder of their country. Immortalized in the intertwining histories of both Haiti and the Dominican Republic, many places in both countries bear her name. The renowned Haitian-American author Edwidge Danticat wrote Anacaona Golden Flower, an award-winning novel in dedication to the fallen chief.

Anacaona, captive-bred Indian
Anacaona, the primitive region
Anacaona, I heard your voice
As she wept as she moaned

I heard Anacaona
From your anguished heart
Your freedom never came…

- From a song by Cheo Feliciano

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

 

What Does Power Mean To You?

posted by Donna Henes

With the question of power — its uses and abuses — on my mind, I reached out to the Facebook fans of The Queen of My Self to see what power means to other Queens of Themselves.

Q. What does power mean to you?

A. Power to me is knowing what you stand for and not backing down, but having the humility to admit when you are wrong, or adjust your position when you have grown. All while being true to yourself.
- Sarah Jane, WA

A. Power is my Goddess-given right to live my life as a free agent.
- Saundra, UT

A. Power is being 100% yourself and not compromising based on what others want you to be, do or say. It is also not giving anyone else free rent in your head — which is essentially giving your personal power over to them!
- Christine, OH

A. To thine own self be true
- Micklo, CA

A. A Queen’s power should be used to further her life’s path and to help along her sisters to do the same thing. We can do much to improve the lives of others if we use our power to do so.
- Katharine, Denmark

A. It means knowing how to access my life force energy, what activates it, what zaps it, and granting myself permission to do whatever it takes to stay connected to this inner fountain of youth! It is my chi!
- Daina, MI

A. To me power means being able to say the hard stuff with grace and non-attachment!
- Judith, NY

A. Responsibility.
- Ruth Ellen, England

A. Power is the life force within us and around us. And the ability to tap into it.
- Cristie, ND

A. In the mind of the Goddess (A Bitch) is a Woman of Strength, Power and Wisdom. Never take offense to this title of Queenship. And those who use this word are aware of its Goddess meaning. Blessed be the Woman who holds her own.
- Janel Oriana, NY

A. I KNEW someone would say “bitch!” It just reminds me of the well worn saying “Well behaved women rarely make history.” I had a conversation with a friend one day about Madonna who is one of my favorite examples of a powerful woman. I said I realized that she has a tendency to step on toes, act bitchy and make some doubt her sanity. I then realized I was one of those people, and I was perpetuating that view of a very powerful woman who has pissed a lot of people off with her creativity and confidence. I don’t agree with everything she does, but she does it well!
- Kimberly, IA

Q. What does power mean
to you?

If you have ever been called defiant, incorrigible, forward, cunning, insurgent, unruly, rebellious, you’re on the right track!
- Clarissa Pinkola Estés

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

The Powerful Queen

posted by Donna Henes

After an inevitable midlife transition period of feeling lost, confused and out of control of Her destiny, the Queen finally takes charge. She steps up to the situations of Her life and takes back the reins of Her power.

Or not.

Becoming a Queen is not automatic, nor is it instantaneous. Unlike dynastic royalty, where the only path lies through inheritance or marriage, the archetypal Queen of Her Self must earn Her own crown. As Simone de Beauvoir, the French philosopher and feminist said, “One is not born a woman, one becomes one.” So, how does one become a Queen?

In order to qualify for Queendom, we must choose to lay claim to the mighty power of self-determination and free will. A Queen is not a grownup princess gliding through life swathed in a protective sheath of entitlement. Rather, She must struggle for and earn Her authority and respect. We can step into our sovereignty only if we actually embrace it, embody it, employ it, enjoy it, and make it fully our own by conscious intent and conscientious effort. There is no such thing as Queen for a Day.
 
I went in through the doors of the treasury of wisdom, and I drew for myself the waters of understanding. I went into the blaze of the sun’s flame, and it lighted me with its splendor, and I made of it a shield for myself.  
- Makeda, Queen of Sheba, 10th Century BCE

We women are often afraid of our own power. Afraid to be thought of as pushy or bitchy if we assert ourselves willfully with the full force of our purpose. But wise women wield power wisely and the planet is in desperate need of our wisdom. The time couldn’t be more crucial.

The first step to becoming powerful Queens is to accept responsibility and sovereignty over our own lives and to feel secure in the effectiveness of our own authority. Once we embrace the personal power of being the Queens of ourselves, we can join together with other self-directed Queenly women to take our potency out into the world to use for the benefit of all.

Now is the time to acknowledge and explore our stature and our strength. It is high time to speak our truth, walk our talk and put our money where our mouth is. We have held back long enough. Starting here, starting now, we must claim our rightful duties as healers, as leaders, as visionaries. We have the whole world in our hands.

Hell may have no fury like a woman scorned, but women standing together side by side, Queen by Queen, autonomous, passionate, proud and empowered can create heaven on Earth!

“There will be no heaven unless we make it.”
- Florence Nightingale

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

 

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