a friend and i were discussing callipygian vs steatopygia this weekend and eventually drifted to the topic of race which included this incredibly appalling story

“The historical Sarah Baartman created a sensation when she appeared in London, beginning in 1810. Raised among the Khoikhoi people of southern Africa, she possessed the enlarged backside and sexual organs that her people prized as an ideal of feminine beauty. As a young woman she had caught the attention of a British ship`s doctor named Dunlop, who deceived her into following him to England, where he displayed her, in the most degrading conditions, as a sideshow curiosity. People came to gawk, grope and leer, and the intellectuals of the day found in her confirmation of their theories of European superiority.

After her death in 1816, Baartman`s exploitation continued. Her remains were put on display at a Paris museum, and only last year were they returned to South Africa for a dignified burial. In the interim, observers continued to speculate, like those academics in the amphitheater, about the meaning of the Hottentot Venus. She became a potent emblem to be deployed in discussions of race, sex, even international relations. When Baartman`s body was finally returned to her homeland, the South African president, Thabo Mbeki, made her role as cultural symbol explicit, saying, “The story of Sarah Baartman is the story of the African people.“”

what`s saddening about this is that even now, even in the caribbean, the stereotype still exists.

i only have one question: WHY?

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