Hip-hop/Spirituality/Freethinking. Speaking for all underdogs!
Sara Baartman: The First Video Vixen!
By Khalil Amani
Before there were ass-shots and butt injections and butt implants and butt pads—before Kim Kardashian’s voluptuous derrière—before every fine white girl had a “bubble butt”—there was the “Hottentot Venus” a.k.a. Sara Baartman, the biggest piece of ass (and I say that affectionately and respectfully) that the world has ever known. She was dubbed "Hottentot," which means "people with cattle" and "Venus" after the Roman goddess of love. Her name Saartjie was shortened to "Sara." In terms of putting one's body on display, Sara Baartman would have been the first documented woman, whose body was her money-maker. She was a video-vixen minus the cameras. She was all the rage of Europe.
Many of these modern-day video vixens, strippers and porn stars don’t know who Sara Baartman was. When they speak of chicks that made a name for themselves in this hip-hop video modeling game, they talk about Buffie The Body, Angela Lola Lov, Rosa Acosta, Pinky, Karrine Steffans, Gloria Velez, Melissa Ford, Meagan Good, Amber Rose, Coco, Kim Kardashian--or hitmakers, Cardi B and Nicki Minaj. Indeed, these chicks made it to the top of the urban model/music industry heap by showing us their beautifully sculpted physiques.
Every article I’ve ever read on Sara Baartman was filled to the rim with the negativity of racism, racial superiority and the sexual nature of black women (and rightly so!), which were all embodied in the life of this one woman. By all accounts, Sara Baartman lived a tragic life, having moved from her homeland of South Africa to Europe (London, Paris) at the age of 20. Why was she so famous? Sara Baartman had a great big-ol’ booty, big, full juicy lips, tig-ol’ biddies (large breasts) and large pussy lips an elongated labia. In the eyes of white folks, she was a sexual freak show. Those white boys in Europe had never seen such a voluptuous African woman. No white woman in Europe was stacked like that! Like booyah! Sara was a phatty indeed! Yes! They dogged the shit out of the sista! She died a short five years after white folks started fucking with her. She became a prostitute. After her death they cut out her body parts and studied them and put them on display for the world to see. But I’m not focusing on that! There are hundreds of articles showing how shameful and wretched and vile and deplorable and nasty and racist white folks were back in the 1800s. Go read it for yourself.
Everybody has spoken for Sara Baartman—feminists, black academia, afrocentric thinkers, historians—and they are all singing the same swan song. Now let’s hear Sara speak.
"Yo! I’m Sara—Sara Baartman from South Africa. I’m not ignorant! I’m not some loser chick that only knew one way to make a living. I willingly, with a clear conscience followed the path, which lead me to my grave. I knew I had something that was an oddity to the European. I knew that my body was a moneymaker. Even the men of my tribe salivated and winked and gloated over my body! I knew at a very young age that I possessed this physical gift. I’ve been aware of my sexuality for as long as I can remember. History will write all of my woes and make the white man out to be a monster, but I reaped a selfish reward from that monster. I was after that dollar-dollar bill y’all. Don’t get it twisted! I’m a victim of my own circumstance."
"You see, there’s nothing wrong with sex and sexuality. People may have perverted what I left behind—my body, but you should understand that I was a goddess! A vixen! The envy of all women and the fantasy of many-a-man. I’m not ashamed of what God gave me! I was just doing me."
"Had I known that after my demise I’d cause this amount of trouble—that I was carrying every young black girl’s burden on my backside I might’ve thought about my choice as a sideshow freak and prostitute 19th century video vixen. But, nonetheless, that’s what I am—your eponymous mother—the progenitor of what you chicks are doing today—stripping, tricking, prostituting, “urban modeling”—showing your ass for the world’s consumption. I’m not hating and I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing. I just want you to be smart about it. Don’t let that world kill you as it killed me. Don’t let it rob you of your soul and murder your love for humanity. Don’t let it make you think that men are the scourge of the earth for lusting after you. You put it out there! Separate the leering looks of men from the loving men in your life; your dads, brothers, uncles, nephews and sons. Don’t blur the lines. There is a distinction."
"Despite what they’ve written of me, I’m a human being—a feeling creature who desired love."
"Would the world know me if I weren’t Sara Baartman, the first video vixen? In a self-sacrificing way I singlehandedly started the conversation surrounding racism, sexuality and women’s rights—me—a stripper—a whore!"
"Yes! My life was tragic! Did I think I’d be the template for black sexuality? Do I think that you video chicks of the 21st century should be judged so harshly by the actions of one woman? Hell no! Do I believe that it is wrong to be an urban model, a stripper or even a porn star? Fuck no! You women today have much more power—power to choose your course of education and employment—the power to say, “Fuck you! Pay me!” and the power to leave this life and get a 9 to 5. I didn’t have this power. I’m actually offended that some think because of my circumstances black women should hide their sexuality. To do that would buy into this notion of black sexuality as taboo and nasty."
"They have demonized sex, sexuality, and a woman’s right to be a sexual creature. They have perverted my life. No one is speaking for you modern-day Venuses, so I’m speaking for you. Do your thang girls! Be smart! Be empowered! Be proud! And above all, be a woman!"
"My name is Sara Baartman and I am the first video vixen. Recognize!"
Follow Khalil Amani on Twitter @khalilamani, Facebook, Myspace. Visit The Khalil Amani Reader @khalilamani.ning.com, Hoodgrownonline.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
This article is featured in the 5th anniversary issue of DJ Kayslay's Straight Stuntin Magazine!