Archive for the ‘Sara Baartman’ Category

The Body, the Booty, and Sara Baartman.

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

Let’s be clear: this is not just another blog article. It’s a call to stand up. I, for one, am righteously pissed off.

You’ve seen the cyber-ad alright. You simply tuned it out, that’s all. The spirit does that sometimes when it’s being assaulted.

A camera opens on a black woman sitting at her desk in an office carrel. Another black woman dashes in, her back to the camera, and starts swinging her hips and ample butt in an exaggerated dance movement. Suddenly the woman dancing figures out that she’s been caught on camera –by the boss, or is it by the gazing audience behind the camera? The woman twirls around to face the camera (the boss and the audience), her fingers to her mouth, surprise in her eyes, an expression on her face that says, “Oooops. Busted. You caught me being naughty.”

What’s all the naughty-booty-swinging-jubilation about? Why, interest rates, of course. The recent drop in interest rates means a savings for the woman presumably on her mortgage, car, or credit card.

You’ve seen the cyber-ad pop up on your browser. I know I have. At the Washington Post website. At the USAToday website. At the NewYorkTimes website. Everywhere men (and unsuspecting women) with purchasing power turn to for their news. The cyber-ad was up earlier this week on the “Inside Yahoo” browser when I clicked on to instant message a friend. It’s an odious and offensive ad that speaks to the dominant culture’s ongoing fetish with black women’s derrieres.

Marketeers have been using female body parts to titillate their audiences and ply their wares for centuries. White women’s breasts and black women’s behinds make the best props.

You’re correct if you’re thinking to yourself that our own men are just as guilty of exploiting black women’s body parts to market their videos. I agree, and the battle to rid our minds of how colonialism and slavery have turned us against ourselves continues. But advertisers can not be let off the hook.

That this ad using a black woman’s derrriere to sell cheap loans has stayed under the radar on “respectable news sites” all this time is testimony to the cunning of cyber-media. Ten seconds of a pop up. Ten seconds of titillating swinging hips. Ten seconds of a stereotypical image of black womanhood. Now you see it, now you don’t. Ten seconds, and it’s over. Forgotten. But indelibly imprinted in the memory bank as a way to define black womanhood. Cheap and jiggling.

Hottentot VenusHere’s a Black History lesson for you. Black women have long been stereotyped in this manner. Enter Saartjie “Sara” Baartman whom the English media dubbed “Hottentot Venus.” Born 1789 in South Africa to the indigenous Khoi Khoi tribe, Sara was kidnapped and taken to London in 1810 and exhibited naked in a freak show type atmosphere to European spectators who paid to gaze at her large breasts and behind. The show was a success and Sara was eventually moved and exhibited in France as well. Sara became the object of scientific and medical research that formed the bedrock of European ideas about black female sexuality. After her death, Sara Baartman remained “an object of imperialist scientific investigation.” In the name of science and as a further insult to women of African descent, until as recently as 1985 Sara’s sexual organs and brain were on display in the Musee de l’Homme.

In memory of Sara Baartman, let’s do what we can this Black History Month and next month during Women’s History Month to put an end to this particular ad which continues the fetishization of black women’s derrieres by money grubbing marketeers.

It’s time to put some legs beneath our prayers. Here’s one of those lines in the sand which I wrote about the other week  that women from different generations should be able to agree on.

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Update:

Thanks to everyone who’s been writing in to LowerMyBill corporate officers below  complaining about their exploitation of black women’s bodies in their ads. Keep it up.

Here’s how we can be more effective

Each time the offending ad pops up on your browser complain directly to the business (e.g., Yahoo, NYTimes, Washington Post). LowerMyBills created the ads, but these mainstream internet sites are the ones purchasing the ads.  Send your complaint to the public relations department of the offending site about how offensiveness you find of the ad. And each time you send an email complaining, be sure to copy LowerMyBills at the email addresses below to let them know that we mean business.

Stay tuned for more updates on this matter. A number of us brown women bloggers are having conversations on how to join forces on this issue!!

Finally, thanks Fal and Danielle, my Joshua generation sister warriors. Thanks Fal for sending  a link to a recent NYTimes article which discusses the many complaints lodged against LowerMyBills who created the ad in question and evidently many other idiotic dancing ads that folks take issue with. You can take a look at the ad I’m criticizing by scrolling down to the bottom of a page Adverlicio.us created which archives LowerMyBills dancing ads.  And thanks Danielle sending along the contact information for three LowerMyBills public relations officers to whom everyone can  shoot emails and faxes to voice their dissatisfaction.
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LowerMyBills, a subsidiary of Experian and Experian, is under the umbrella of GUS (othewise known as Home Retail Group plc) United States Corporate Headquarters and located at: 475 Anton Blvd.
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Email: media.relations@homeretailgroup.com
United States - Press ContactsDonald Girard
Public Affairs Vice President
Tel: +1 714 830 5647
Fax: +1 714 830 2590
Email: donald.girard@experian.com
Matthew Besler
Public Relations Director
Tel: +1 224 698 4415
Email: matthew.besler@experian.com

Heather Greer
Public Relations Director
Tel: +1 714 830 7756
Email: heather.greer@experian.com