Venus in the Dark: Blackness and Beauty in Popular Culture
Western culture has long been fascinated by black women, but a history of enslavement and colonial conquest has variously labeled black women's bodies as exotic and grotesque. In this remarkable cultural history of black female beauty, Janell Hobson explores the enduring figure of the Hottentot Venus. br br In 1810, Saartjie Baartman was taken from South Africa to Europe,...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published August 3rd 2005 by Routledge
(first published July 15th 2005)
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We only need to remember Sara Baartman to realise that a slogan such as 'Black is beautiful' is never superficial and always political.
The treatment of Sara Baartman, the original embodiment of the 'Hottentot Venus', a Khoisan woman who was brought from South Africa to England and Paris around 1810 and exhibited is the jumping off point for this academic work. Hobson first investigates and critiques the construction of black female beauty/sexuality by white supremacy. I was struck by the points...more
Overall and in short, this was a good book in that it delves deep into the hypersexualization and creation of the black Venus. Though Hobson had *many* periods of rambling, lost thesises, and extreme overuse of sources--all of which made a couple of her ideas lost in a sea of confusion and someone else's words.
I love any book that includes an examination of non-white women in popular culture, because more of this scholarship only examines white women. Hobson should have included Black women in music, television, videos, and advertising, but she mainly looked at theatre, art, and indie films, which are items not in the mainstream and so less well known. All in all, a great book for my women & popular culture class.