The Queen of My Self

The Queen of My Self

The Politics of Polite – Part 1

posted by Donna Henes

The following article by Natalie Angier appeared in the New York Times last month. It certainly struck a chord in me. Or should I say, a sore point?

Just Don’t Call Me …
By Natalie Angier

Classes are now underway at Pennsylvania State University, and Judith Kroll, a professor of psychology, linguistics and women’s studies, will soon be greeting her undergraduate students with the usual brief spiel. “I get up and say, you can call me Dr. Kroll, or professor, or Judith if you like, but do not call me Mrs.,” she said. “I am not Mrs. Kroll. I kept my name when I got married and my husband kept his name.”

There is one other honorific that Dr. Kroll dislikes and that she dearly wishes she could bar from the classroom: ma’am. Whenever a student says, “Yes ma’am” or “Is that going to be on the test, ma’am?” Dr. Kroll says she cringes and feels weird. Yet because ma’am, unlike Mrs., isn’t factually incorrect, Dr. Kroll resists the urge to scold. “My first take has got to be, this person is just trying to be polite,” she sighed.

Another day, another ma’am-ogram: you may not want it; it may make you feel flattened, desexualized, overripe and nearly through; but trust me, ma’am, we’re doing it all for you.

There are weightier problems in the world. Still, if you’re a woman born any time before the Clinton administration, chances are you’ve been called ma’am on more than one occasion — by solicitous waiters asking whether you were “Done working on that, ma’am?” and hovering store clerks wondering if they can “help you find anything, ma’am,” and traffic cops telling you to “Move your car, ma’am, this isn’t a parking lot,” and the perky, hardworking fellows at the farmers’ market who see you week after week but will always cram so many ma’ams into every transaction that you realize there’s no turning back, you’ve been ma’amed for life.

Ma’am is, of course, a contraction of madam, and its usage varies by region. Southerners and Midwesterners will ma’am with greater frequency than do the residents on the East and West Coasts, said Deborah Tannen, author of “You Just Don’t Understand” and a linguistics professor at Georgetown. “You’re more likely to hear ma’am when somebody is annoyed.”

In theory, ma’am is a courtesy term, meant to convey respect and graciousness lightly salted with deference. Yet much evidence suggests that when it comes to fomenting a sense of good will ma’am fails even more spectacularly than “Have a nice day.”

Certainly in popular culture, many female characters rebel against the ma’am tag. In the mordant, high-end medical soap, “Nurse Jackie,” when a policeman struggling to help subdue a disturbed patient made the mistake of referring to Edie Falco’s eponymous character as “ma’am,” Nurse Jackie shot back, “So help me God, do not call me ma’am — uncuff him!”

Helen Mirren, playing Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison on the crime series “Prime Suspect” told her male subordinate: “Listen, I like to be called governor or the boss. I don’t like ma’am. I’m not the bloody queen, so take your pick.” To which came the inevitable answer, “Yes, ma’am, anything you say.”

In the premier episode of “Star Trek: Voyager,” Kate Mulgrew as Capt. Kathryn Janeway informed a young male ensign that “ma’am is acceptable in a crunch, but I prefer captain,” and when, a few moments later, the ensign called her ma’am, the captain retorted, “It’s not crunch time yet — I’ll let you know when.”

Coming tomorrow is Part 2.

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

Conversations with the Goddess

posted by Donna Henes

Another book that I read on my retreat on Mt. Desert Island in Maine was Conversations with the Goddess: Encounter at Petra, Place of Power by Dorothy Atalla.

I had been meaning to read it for some time, but you know how that goes. Finally, in the tiny rental cabin on the cove, I had the luxury of uninterrupted time to savor her fascinating travels through time and space to find the Feminine Divine.

Look below for information about today’s book give away.***

On a January day in the depths of mid-western winter, Dorothy Atalla, a woman in her middle years, expected more of the same: snow, ice and gray skies. But when she lay down on her living room carpet to relax with music, she had an experience, which changed her life. Inexplicably, a vision of a radiant and beneficent female presence appeared to her. This astonishing event was only the beginning of a journey she could never have imagined in her wildest dreams. That vision foreshadowed the dialogue with a deity, which is the essence of this book.

I suddenly saw with photographic clarity an image of a woman who radiated scintillating light. She was richly dressed and wore a diadem in the manner of East Indian royalty. She turned her head and smiled in my direction. I had never had such an experience, and didn’t know who she might be. At the time I didn’t know this vision was going to be a preface to the conversations, which would follow later on.

Conversations with the Goddess swiftly evolves from a personal story into a universal story in which a feminine Presence speaks about the role of the sacred Feminine in the future. She also speaks of the past, revealing a panoramic view of a time in which the Goddess was revered not only at Petra but also throughout the ancient world. Dorothy’s story is a multiplicity of strands which she deftly weaves together, creating  a tapestry that spans immense time frames in Earth’s evolution. As her tale progresses, people from the deep past step forward to tell about their lives and their relationship with the Goddess. And what a fascinating group of characters they are – from Zillah, slave woman, to Hayyan al-Shubri, high priest who serves the chief goddess of Petra.

It had been seven years since my family and I visited the site of Petra. It had made such an indelible impression upon me that I wrote a poem and a travel essay about it, which was published in the local newspaper. I had not felt motivated to write more about Petra, although its grandeur and antiquity had thrilled me. Why, then, was this place showing up in my meditation?

Woven into the dialogues are lively commentaries about Petra as a cosmic power point, women as agents for planetary evolution and restoration of ancient Goddess knowledge and women’s mysteries. Other threads in this weaving are also relevant to modern women:  woman’s innate spiritual power, Earth’s powers and the powers of woman, symbolism in female artifacts and the consciousness which created them, what the dark Feminine really is, correction of misperceptions about the nature of the Great Goddess, and a path toward balance of the divine Feminine and the divine Masculine.

What was empowering about the conversations was this: I came to understand that the disempowering story which our culture has given us about our lives as females can, and will be, transcended. When our misperceptions about ourselves as females are cleared away, we can begin to see the powers, which are uniquely ours.

***You, too, can join Dorothy on her journey to the Great Goddess. She will be giving away copies of her book to the first three women who request one. Just write thequeenofmyself@aol.com today before midnight to ask for a book.

Note: If you have not already signed up for email updates from The Queen of My Self, make sure to do so. That way you will be notified of future book giveaways.

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

Your Thoughts on Aging

posted by Donna Henes

Between this blog, The Facebook The Queen of My Self fan page and my monthly Ezine, The Queen’s Chronicles, I get a lot of comments from women everywhere who are transitioning into their own powerful potential as a fully sovereign Queens.

I would like to share some of these thoughts, as I believe they speak to the interest of all the 60 million midlife women out there. Should these spark your own thoughts. fabulous. And if they inspire to you send in your thoughts and ideas to share, even better.

The process of maturing is an art to be learned, an effort to be
sustained. By the age of fifty you have made yourself what you are, and
if it is good, it is better than your youth.
~Marya Mannes

I’m always happy to see women reclaiming age. We have to figure out what it means on our own, questioning everything that society tells us. This is work that all of us are doing, just as we’re reclaiming our gender expression and our spiritual practices.
 
In a still male-dominated society, an aging woman is seen through male eyes. No longer a traditional sex object, and so derided? But also feared, because of some very ancient conditioning. Early on, elderly women must have been the most valuable asset in tribal cultures. Memory and experience were priceless, since that was what kept everyone alive. Elderly men would have been revered, too, but elderly women would have more intimate knowledge of body changes, cycle and healing. And so I have no doubt that we were the authority figures for thousands of years.   
 
And as the patriarchal overthrow meant the suppression of women’s primeval power, so it buried the power of old women. Our social roles have narrowed down because we retain the tendency to speak truth and to naturally exert authority. In order to prevail, patriarchy has to turn us into cartoon characters – just as they’ve done with the witch and with so many aspects of womanhood.    
 
It makes sense, from nature’s viewpoint, that elderly women would have special gifts, gifts that we’ve been honing our entire lives. Nature doesn’t waste anything, least of all experience.

I am really curious to hear what age means to other women. For me, it’s been a much more balanced and self-aware place to be. My mind has settled down. It’s the difference between choice & compulsion. When I was younger, I felt compelled to push, struggle, and take on challenges. Now, when I do those things, I do them from a sense of choice.
 
Old women often discard the mask of femininity and stand revealed in our true power. But it can be very scary to step out of a firmly-entrenched social role and that’s why women are scurrying to “look younger.” To take on our atrophied power is not easy. We all have to recognize it first, and then we have to work together.   
 
But to my mind this is the only thing that will save the planet at this junction in history. And I think it’s the message of the epoch, the message of Pluto in Capricorn, the sign of age and wisdom.
- Jenny, Germany

Amen. I am in my mid 40′s and finally know. I understand and appreciate myself. Life is fantastic!!!
- Tracy, OH

This is so true. During my 30s and early 40s I wished to return to my 20s. Now, in my late 40s, I am so glad to be where I am in life’s journey.
- Cyndi Grady

So right you are sister. At 70 I am who I am and proud to be Queen of Self. Life is a stage and I love the part I now play.
- Micklo, CA

Soooooooooo true! And it only gets better and better. :-)
- Diana, NM

Yes! I am very happy with who I have become!
- Brenda, BC, Canada

Yes! The handcrafted Self is worth the journey it takes to get here!
- Lynlee, CA

My 50′s are just sooo much FUN!
- Donna, MT

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

Message from the other Queen

posted by Donna Henes

To: The citizens of the United States of America

From: Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 

In light of your failure in recent years to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately. (You should  look up ‘revocation’ in the Oxford English Dictionary.)  Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy). Your new Prime Minister, David Cameron, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed. To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

1.  The letter ‘U’ will be reinstated in words such as ‘colour,’ ‘favour,’ ‘labour’ and ‘neighbour.’ Likewise, you will learn to spell ‘doughnut’  without skipping half the letters, and the suffix ‘-ize’ will be replaced by the suffix ‘-ise.’  Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (Look up ‘vocabulary’).  

2.  Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as ”like’ and ‘you know’ is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication.   There is no such thing as U. S. English. We will let Microsoft know this on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter ‘u” and the elimination of ‘-ize.’

3.  July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday. 

4.  You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you’re not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can’t sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you’re not ready to shoot grouse. 

5.  Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler, although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public. 

6.  All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour. 

7.  The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it. 

8.  You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar. 

9.  The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. Australian beer is also acceptable, as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of the British Commonwealth — see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat’s Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion. 

10.  Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie MacDowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one’s ears removed with a cheese grater. 

11. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full Kevlar body amour like a bunch of nannies). 

12. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game, which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the Australians first to take the sting out of their deliveries.

 13. You must tell us who killed JFK. It’s been driving us mad. 

14.  An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty’s Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776). 

15.  Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality  biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season. 

God Save the Queen! 

***
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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