By Shirley Anne Tate (auth.)
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Extra resources for Black Women’s Bodies and The Nation: Race, Gender and Culture
We see beautiful, slim, curvaceous, toned bodies but in the UK we also see these women through the Caribbean colonial trope of Sable-Saffron Venus in which there is no possibility for category confusion in terms of ‘race’ or gender. Their very bodies have been given defined contours by this legacy. Skin and what lies beneath it acquires legibility through this legacy. However, as nudes both Jones and Campbell enable a reconceptualization of the Black woman’s body. Looking directly at the viewer they leave objectification behind and as subjects interpellate the viewer.
She began her career as Andy Warhol’s muse before moving to Paris as a model in the 1970s. Here she ‘remembers going to a party with various French Ministers wearing nothing but a string of bones around her neck’ (Sewards, 2008). Nudity to shock, entice, seduce, stir desire. Bones to propel to the surface repressed white memory of Black female alterity, animality and cannibalism. She intended to scare as well as attract, to be a source of endless fascination. She was the mistress of her own objectification, the one who determined the direction of the racializing gaze, her own iconic positioning as diva, as freak.
She challenges Black middle-class respectability by translating a Black woman for the 21st century who can be hypersexual wife/partner, feminist and willing to have a heterosexual relationship only on equal terms. Sasha has reclaimed Black women’s agency and subjectivity. However, her subversion is continuously undermined given the proliferation of Black women’s bodies most notably their bottoms in hip-hop and dancehall music videos, on porn sites and in porn videos. An example of this from hip-hop culture is Barbadian Rihanna’s ‘Rude Boy’ in which she says ’Come on rude boy, boy can you get it up?