A glimmer of thoughts on my current gender status, which require a much more substantial essay eventually—
Investigating the etymology of queen (after I noticed the similarity with Swedish kvinna for “woman”), I led myself to the medieval variant quean which, far from suggesting royalty, seems to have on different occasions meant a female serf, a hardy young woman, or a sex worker. It is fascinating to reflect on how these words, sharing a common origin, illuminate the potential conceptualization of queenliness in Germanic languages; on the one hand a working woman whose body is used by others nevertheless has her function designated something other than whore (a worthily reclaimed term, but negative to many), and on the other hand, perhaps more importantly, a woman whose body (cissexually reduced to a womb) is nearly sacred from its role in producing the royal lineage but whose function is recognized subtly as nothing more than that vessel.
The plot thickens, of course, when we see the term queen eventually applying to people without wombs and/or people who aren’t women, whose sexualities are not predicated on fertility cultism, whose behaviors may be coded as feminine and attire may be coded as femme, and yet who are often still associated with promiscuity and being sexualizable.
There is something very profound worth reflecting on here as an anglophone. There is something exciting in this word, queen/quean, that implies the possibility of straddling the line between fertility cult and ecstatic cult. The chance to queer “womb-ness” and also to simultaneously uncouple it from the exploiting class. To recognize the historically enforced link between childbearing and femininity, to make each of these things revolutionary possibilities, and yet not to require that we perform one in order to successfully perform the other.
Queen is a magic word, I think. When I think of some ways in which I could use it, it is not something airy and fluffy. It is something chthonic, dark— and perhaps readily mistaken for many things that the world calls woman, but in fact something wonderfully, wildly beyond.