By Shirley Anne Tate (auth.)
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Additional resources for Black Women’s Bodies and The Nation: Race, Gender and Culture
This reverses the spectacle of the Black woman’s celebrity body which aimed to disavow their becoming other than what was envisioned by colonial discourses of the Black woman as other. In turning the tables on the would-be objectifier we see the becoming moment of new racial and gender identities through the relationality of skin(s). The skin ego (Anzieu, 1990) of the viewer undergoes change through ‘race’ performativity. Desire enables an affective flow from the body of Jones and Campbell which rewrites the skin ego of the viewer.
She resists Sapphire and the Sable-Saffron Venus by producing excess, by reproducing a hyper-sexual, hyper-feminine parsing of Venus for us to avidly consume. In doing this she engages in what Homi Bhabha (1994) would call ‘mimicry’, returning an answer to (post) colonial patriarchy in the form of the white racializing gaze which is something other than was expected. Through mimicry she shows us that she can challenge the gaze of white/Black hetero-patriarchy which would make her a 21stcentury Sable-Saffron Venus, through focusing on her two bs, ‘booty and breast’.
These images can be read as examples of a racist, heteropatriarchal genealogy of Black women as objects of desire as well as examples of the idealization of the Black female form and agency (Cheng, 2011). Baker’s face is highlighted to show her as both the possessor of childlike innocence and adult allure. Her head is slightly bent so her heavily made up eyes gaze pensively at the camera. Hooped earrings, thick hooped necklace and thick bracelets remind us of the image of the Sable-Saffron Venus of enslavement even whilst her hands clasp her breasts and the cloth which hangs down the front of her body covering her genitals modestly but rendering her naked to the voyeur’s eye.