An Analysis Of George Cuvier's ' Hottentot '

1150 Words Mar 10th, 2016 5 Pages
Saartjie Baartman, notoriously known as the “Hottentot Venus,” and informally referred to as Sara, was coercively taken from her home in South Africa during the 19th century by American colonizers and promised a better life. Instead, she was displayed in U.S freak shows simply because her capturers and audience were curiously fascinated with her large buttocks and labia, in which she was presented as a freak of nature. Men and women from all over the country traveled to gaze upon her nude and exploited physicality, where she was denied of her language, which also contributed to the denial of her humanity. Her master, George Cuvier attempted to use science to justify the imposed maltreatment she received through the commodification and exhibition of her body. Baartman represents racist and hypersexualized notions that continue to be idealized about black women’s bodies that leads to repulsion by the dominant group, while she also signifies colonialism that ultimately created and continue to maintain these standards about black femininity. These sexist, but racist stigmatizations inspired racial hierarchy, as its essence highlighted the physical differences between groups. This dichotomy is continually perpetuated through modern day pop culture by artists like Beyoncé, along with black female stereotypes, in which many women voluntarily adhere to and accentuate in order to satisfy the heterosexual gaze that these ideas are dependent on. In Janell Hobson’s essay,…

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