Lady. Babe. Girl.
These are three of my favorite words,
but some of my fellow feminists believe I should expunge them from my vocabulary.
Yes, I am a feminist, which means I believe in the equality of the sexes, which means I want equal pay, equal opportunities, and equal respect.
This does not mean I want society to pretend I am not female.
Earlier this year a widely read blog for female creatives wrote a eulogy for the popular hashtag “#girlboss.”
“Would a man ever call himself a boy boss?” the writer asked.
Probably not. But who said I was trying to do business like
A reader of my own blog, SeeJaneWrite.net, took offense recently when I called myself a lady writer and referred to my personal notebook as my lady journal.
Look. I get it. I understand that “girl,” “lady,” and “babe” are all words sometimes wielded against women as a verbal weapon to put us in “our place.” But it was when I decided to reclaim and redefine these words for myself that I found the courage to take my place. I found the courage to take a seat at the table and, with all my girl power and lady might, flip the table over.
I don’t call myself a girl boss so I will be less threatening to the male ego. I call myself a girl boss because I want you to know I can take your job while wearing pink and flipping my hair, if that’s what I choose to do.
This is why I won’t shut up about being a girl.
I’m also not going to shut up about being black. My thoughts on gender are quite similar to my ideas on race. When someone tells me they don’t see color, I simply do not believe them.
If we are only friends because you don’t see me as black, we are not friends at all.
Likewise, if you only respect me because I seem like “one of the boys,” you don’t respect me at all.
I am a woman and I am black. Those two aspects of my identity will always and forever intersect. My feminism is intersectional.
Another favorite phrase of mine that’s been under fire is the ever popular “black girl magic.”
Earlier this year a writer for Elle magazine complained that “black girl magic” perpetuates the “strong black woman” archetype, which suggests that black women can survive it all and withstand it all, a notion that causes many black women to suffer in silence.
But many writers and cultural critics agree that black girl magic is simply a
“It’s not about black women being exclusive or being superhuman; it’s about black women recognizing the humanity in one another that so many others often fail to see,” Demetria Lucas D’Oyley wrote for TheRoot.com in a response to the Elle essay.
For me black girl magic isn’t about unicorns, pixie dust, or even super-human strength; it’s about self-love.
As poet June Jordan once so perfectly said, “I am a feminist, and what that means to me is much the same as the meaning of the fact that I am Black: it means that I must undertake to love myself and to respect myself as though my very life depends upon self-love and self-respect.”
I do not long for the day you no longer see me as a woman. I dream of the day when all expressions of gender (male, female, and beyond the binary) are honored.
I do not long for the day you no longer see me as black. I dream of the day when all races and ethnicities are celebrated.
But in meantime, I’ll be writing in my lady journal about my life as a girl boss to conjure my black girl magic for the day.