Venus And Intimate Apparel Analysis

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The Black Female Body in Venus and Intimate Apparel

Being a white female-presenting person lends its own perspective to the race and gender divide in our country. On the one hand, I face oppression every single day simply by virtue of walking down the street and being catcalled; or foolishly attempting to prove that I know something (anything) to a man who does not believe a woman can form her own coherent opinions. On the other, I have no way of truly understanding the effect of racial discrimination on anyone, because I myself am the discriminator by virtue of my skin color. It creates a minefield of understanding, because race and gender are so heavily linked. I am oppressed in one category and the oppressor in the other. For this reason,
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Granted, the fact that I am an American in 2016 America and she was an African woman in nineteenth century Britain, I could very much relate to being objectified and ridiculed for having a body. However, where Venus is enslaved and forced to dance, I am praised. Where I am ‘complimented’ (certainly, catcalling is not a compliment, but the two are not on the same level), she is seen as “...intensely ugly… distorted beyond all European notions of beauty, she was said by those to whom she belonged to possess precisely the kind of shape which is most admired among her countrymen, the Hottentots.” The audience and her keepers say things like, “WHAT A BLACKSIDE!” and then split their sides laughing. Her entire humanity is stripped away from her, from the autopsies critiquing every last imperfection to being sexualized then ridiculed by every person she interacts …show more content…
There is a choice to be made between going entirely against these standards and repressing one’s sexuality, or reveling in one’s sexuality and becoming a stereotype of those standards. Consent, of course, is a huge factor in sexuality and Venus is no exception. In her case, other people rule if she gives consent from the moment she decided to travel away from home. The audience members were more concerned with getting caught than how their actions would affect her (“And from there if im really quick ill stick / my hand inside her / cage and have a feel / if no ones looking”). Her keepers use her sexuality as a weapon to keep her docile because they know it works: Mother Showman threatens to “...invite them in / one at a time / and let them fuck yr brains out.” To which Venus responds, “They do it anyway.” “Well. / It’s the same / For all of us, Love.” When nature inevitably takes its course and she begins expecting, there is a light at the end of the tunnel: perhaps she will be permitted a purpose in this world beyond being derided for her body! “Where I come from / [pregnancy] is cause for celebration.” She dares hope that she will be allowed to be a mother, to connect with someone on a deeper level. The father pressures her to abort, however, proving that she is only valued for her sexuality - when nature takes its inevitable course, she is forced to recede back into her

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