The drive to resist the historical colonial tradition of degrading Black women’s bodies when they dance persists in other cultures where the modern takes on booty dancing have taken root. In Jamaica, dancehall dances can provide a space where women shake their bottoms to challenge colonial constructs of decency while dealing with their bodies on their own terms. There is a long history of Black women being sexually exploited, objectified, and labelled sexually lascivious in the Americas during slavery, and the story of Sarah Baartman is familiar to many; she was the Khoikhoi woman who was taken from her home in Eastern Cape to be displayed in “freak shows” across Europe for her large bottom, and subjected to scientific dissection after her death. With such a history, it is perhaps not entirely surprising that many are still not comfortable with Black women shaking or displaying their bottoms.
However, it is necessary to question that discomfort since women’s bodies belong to them, and how they choose to display or shake what belongs to them is for them to decide. It is necessary tochallenge the dehumanising and objectifying gaze that will view women booty shaking as mere sexual objects, as well as the colonial gaze that labels African expressions as obscene.
- Real Life Sara Bartman Moment Live At the Kennedy Center (29tolife.wordpress.com)
- 30 Students Suspended for Making ‘Twerking’ Video (fox40.com)
- Twitter Tackles ‘Black Privilege’ (theroot.com)