Black Venus 2010: They Called Her Hottentot by Deborah Willis

By Deborah Willis

As a tender South African lady of approximately twenty, Saartjie Baartman, the so-called "Hottentot Venus," used to be dropped at London and put on convey in 1810. Clad within the Victorian identical of a physique stocking, and paraded in the course of the streets and on level in a cage she turned a human spectacle in London and Paris. Baartman's designated body grew to become the item of ridicule, interest, medical inquiry, and wish until eventually and after her untimely loss of life. The determine of Sarah Baartman was once diminished to her sexual elements. Black Venus 2010 lines Baartman's reminiscence in our collective histories, in addition to her symbolic historical past within the building and id of black ladies as artists, performers, and icons. The wide-ranging essays, poems, and pictures in Black Venus 2010 symbolize probably the most compelling responses to Baartman. each grapples with the long-lasting legacy of this younger African girl who perpetually is still a touchstone for black girls. members contain: Elizabeth Alexander, Holly Bass, Petrushka A Bazin, William Jelani Cobb, Lisa Gail Collins, Renee Cox, J. Yolande Daniels, Carole Boyce Davies, Leon de Wailly, Manthia Diawara, Diana Ferrus, Cheryl Finley, Nikky Finney, Kianga ok. Ford, Terri Francis, Sander Gilman, Renee eco-friendly, pleasure Gregory, Lyle Ashton Harris, Michael D. Harris, Linda Susan Jackson, Kellie Jones, Roshini Kempadoo, Simone Leigh, Zine Magubane, E. Ethelbert Miller, Robin Mitchell, Charmaine Nelson, Tracey Rose, Radcliffe Roye, Bernadette Searle, Lorna Simpson, Debra S. Singer, Penny Siopis, Hank Willis Thomas, Kara Walker, Michele Wallace, Carla Williams, Carrie Mae Weems, J. T. Zealy, and the editor.

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When Parent-Duchatelet turned to the sexual parts of the prostitutes, he provided two sets of information that merged to become part of the myth of the physical anthropology of the prostitute. The prostitute’s sexual parts are in no way directly affected by their profession. He contradicts the “general opinion . . that the genital parts in prostitutes must alter, and assume a particular disposition, as the inevitable consequence of their avocation” (42). He cites on case of a woman of fifty-one “who had prostituted herself thirty-six years, but in whom, notwithstanding, the genital parts might have been mistaken for those of a virgin just arrived at puberty” (43).

And still other signs were quickly found. The French physician L. 43) Lombroso’s coauthor, Guglielmo Ferrero, described prostitution as the rule in primitive societies and placed the Bushman at the extreme end on the scale of primitive lasciviousness. ”44 The primitive is the black, and the qualities of blackness, or at least of the black female, are those of the prostitute. 45 The late nineteenth-century perception of the prostitute merged with that of the black. Aside from the fact that prostitutes and blacks were both seen as outsiders, what does this amalgamation imply?

13 Between 1810 and 1814, she was paraded through London—usually in a flesh-colored costume designed to tightly conform to her body, often in a cage. ”14 The paper continued that the Hottentot was produced like a wild beast, and ordered to move backwards and forwards, and come out and go into her cage, more like a bear on a chain than a human being. . She frequently heaved deep sighs; seemed anxious and uneasy; grew sullen, when she was ordered to play on some rude instrument of music. . And one time, when she refused for a moment to come out of her cage, the keeper let down the curtain, went behind, and was seen to hold up his hand to her in a menacing posture; she then came forward at his call, and was perfectly obedient.

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