I recently have seen a rise in comments about Sarah Baartman on facebook and twitter. This increase in curiosity for my virtual friends excites me. One because I am a history nut and for two african narratives rarely are the subject of general conversation. Since I minored in the African & African American Diaspora I reviewed my notes surrounding her name.
Sarah Baartman (1789- 29 December 1816) or Saartje (an Afrikaan diminitive) spent much of her life under the subjugation of physical and racial prejudice. As a slave in Cape Town, South Africa Sarah was approached to come abroad and Englishmen’s ship to London. It was in London where she became the subject of ‘extremely’ scrutiny and exhibition.
Her large buttocks and genitals were the source of much attention in London. It became a ‘scientific curiosity’ which they would feature in ‘freak show’ exhibitions. Sarah was on display as a subjugated, over sexed Afrikaan woman, largely devastating the opulence of her figure. She was abused and eventually forced into prostitution. At the young age of 25 she died in London of an apparent inflammatory sickness.
The oversexualization of color women can be documented with Sarah and throughout the Diasporas.