I know nothing of freak shows. I was not there. I was not at the shows where Saartjie Baartman was something to gawk at, to point at, prodded and studied and degraded, a sex object, less than human. I was not present as she was displayed, naked, made to dance naked for entertainment of the masses, who paid to see her large feminine features caring nothing for her modesty. Yet, I see this happen today.
I know nothing of the struggles for the abolition of slavery. I was not there to hear Sojourner ask, ‘Aint I a woman?’ I was not there to call her a feminist when she asked to have her fair share. I did not witness her take a White man to court and win the freedom of her child. To date there is still a struggle.
I do, however, know that I could be either a famous, physically endowed beauty. With pictures of my half naked form endorsing the next big fragrance on the front page of a magazine; While my humanitarian deeds lie in an obscure corner of the page. Or I am an incredibly smart trailblazer with plans and ideals that can change the world as we know it; I will dwell in the search history of a school research project and be thrust into glorious limelight by an award before or after my death. If I am not lucky enough to be famous, I will go through life a lesser known version of the above two examples.
Yes, I have been emancipated and can do anything, for so long as that anything lies in the feminine jobs and roles and does not disrupt the humdrum existence of a man. Everything will go on swimmingly and I will get favors if I ‘give it up’ to play with the big boys. God forbid I should grow a dangling hairy pair then I will lose my femininity and be placed in the category also known as ‘too confrontational’.
In this modern world the celebration of the feminine form and role has been ‘remixed’, so to speak. A few keystrokes in any search engine will find my legs eagerly parted and sufficiently lubricated in wait of a man, a woman, a thing or myself to go there in and continue to arch my back, thrashing this way and that in the throes of an epic orgasm. For the more discerning search engine user, I will have all the tips and tricks to achieve the seemingly elusive feminine satisfaction. Before long, my fellow sister search engine will be clamored with requests on how to make myself more beautiful, more sensitive. How to get bigger or smaller breasts? Or thighs? Or buttocks? Or clitoris and a host of other girly bits. Hating myself and obsessing over all that is ‘wrong’ with me.
After my search is done for the day, I will switch on my radio and hear a man or woman I don’t know for Adam or Eve, call me a bitch and/or a hoe then proceed to ask me to shake what my mama gave me. So I shake to that catchy beat, maybe so that the guy seated across me will notice me or to ‘get that paper’ or whatever the youngins are calling it nowadays. I am left with a strange cocktail of emotions. I am angry, disappointed, disillusioned… You can guess the rest.
On a personal note, let me say that I find generalization offensive. A saying my friends have heard me say. So I am not about to throw the book at you and try to bash my ideologies into you. You are free to make your observations as I am to make mine. I wish to speak in retrospect of the lessons I have taken from Sojourner and Saartjie and my short life on this crazy place and make an appeal. Gloria Steinem is quoted as saying, “The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.”
Unlearn how to degrade the woman in your mirror, and those all around you. Unlearn the tips and tricks to make her cum and go find out from the horse’s mouth. Unlearn the stereotypes you have placed on her and treat her as a human being, in the way you would like to be treated. Unlearn how to dress to get his attention, so he can see you and not just your ‘lovely lady lumps’. Unlearn using people for your personal gain. Unlearn that roles are rigid for men and women. Unlearn that there are those of less value or input to humanity than yourself.
Saartjie and Sojourner were beautiful black women deserving of dignity, respect and fair treatment. Those ideals are reasonable. Imagine how different their stories and ours would have been in the face of all manner of injustice, violence and misrepresentation; if we unlearned our fears, assumptions, prejudices and hatred towards our fellow people.
I leave you with a few links that contributed to my posting this entry.
- Alfre Woodard Reads Sojourner Truth https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vr_vKsk_h8
- Story of Saartjie Baartman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDcSXQ8QjsA
- The Vaginal Trilogue https://amarepoeta.wordpress.com/2012/10/03/the-vaginal-trilogue-part-1-the-ruling/
Thank you for your time