What’s bigger–Kim Kardashian’s rear end, or the pile of grim feminist commentary about it?
As a straight woman, a lot of popular culture is not really for me, anyway. Nor is most of it for people of color, people who fall all over the spectrum of gender identity or people who exist outside the confines of heterosexuality. It’s sold to us, for sure, but it is not actually created with us in mind. As a woman, it is not meant to activate my pleasure centers or make me feel good things; it is not meant to make me feel good about my body or anyone else’s body, feel good about the last 200 or so years of history, or feel good about being a woman in general, really.
But as a woman, I’m supposed to partake in this popular culture about me. Not only am I supposed to enjoy it, but I’m supposed to have analyzed it and have an opinion about it. I’m supposed to have decided if Iggy Azalea’s butt is real, or if Nicki Minaj’s butt is real, or, most recently, if Kim Kardashian’s butt is real.
But the Kardashians aren’t just trashy. They’re dangerous—actively exploiting and reinforcing racial and gender biases that bite us in the ass.
As Yomi Adegoke wrote in the Guardian in September, non-black women have a history of appropriating black women’s bodies and culture. Black women’s big bottoms were “the butt of fashion industry jokes for years,” Adegoke writes, until Jennifer Lopez, Iggy Azalea and even Miley Cyrus started boasting their own rear attributes, “Why does a black butt only look good in white skin?” Adegoke wrote.
From Pia Glenn at xoJane:
On Friday, Jezebel published a piece called Saartjie Baartman: The Original Booty Queen. In it, Cleuci de Oliveira wrote about Saartjie Baartman, aligning Baartman, Kim Kardashian (using her “Paper” magazine cover as a starting point), and Nicki Minaj as the titular “Booty Queens.” It was detailed. It was researched. It was protracted. And it was wrong.***
There are passing mentions of whitewashing and cultural appropriation up front, but what follows is some sort of perverse retelling of Baartman’s life as an early incarnation of Madonna’s Blonde Ambition tour. I couldn’t help but bristle at this white-appearing Latina author’s assertion about Baartman that “Few people know her name in America,” because to me that is the crux of the problem here.
Black people know her name. Non-black people who are aware of and respect the realities of colonialism know her name. Women who fight daily for agency over our bodies know her name.
Love the “white-appearing Latina.” Cleuci de Oliveira is the new George Zimmerman.
Posted by Charlotte Allen