Monday, December 17, 2007

Saartjie Baartman 2007?

I was out shopping this past weekend. On one of my stops I decided to check out the magazine rack. As I scanned for an interesting magazine I came across a copy of the December issue of King Magazine, which is apparently a soft porn mag masquerading as a men's lifestyle magazine.

On the cover of the issue was a photo of a very pretty Black woman that immediately reminded me of pictures I've seen of Saartjie Baartman.

Saartji Sarah Baartman (1789 – December 29, 1815) was an African woman who was taken from her home in what is now South Africa and put on display in Europe. Saartji apparently had large and protruding buttocks. White Europeans paid to see her and some paid extra to touch her.

It's hard to know what Saartji thought of her life of being on display. Most accounts of her life focus on what Europeans thought rather than what she thought. I can only project my thoughts to assume her life was not a happy one.

This brings me to the cover of King Magazine and Angel Lola Luv. I was so amazed by the photo on the cover and its hearkening to Saartji Baartman that I bought the Magazine. Once home I searched the net for more info about Angel Lola Luv.

Apparently she was born in Ethiopia.

Another African woman on display in the west. But rather than Angel Lola Luv being put on display for the enjoyment of Whites, it appears this modern day Saartji Baartman is on display for mostly African American men.

Also it seems that Angel unlike Saartji is enjoying the success that her unusual physical features are bringing her. She has appeared in numerous music videos, a few films and quite a few men's magazines.

I wonder if Angel Lola Luv whose real name is Angel Fershgenet is aware of Saartji Baartman's life? If so I wonder if she sees the parallel?

What do you think?

Find out more about Saartji Baartman at What Tami Said and at Wikipedia.


Ebonne said...

Whoa thanks for the history lesson. I had never heard of Saarjti... I think a lot of these video vixens need to hear about this women's story... making knowing the history will make them change their perception of the industry

XotiqueJaz said...

Interesting story - I had never heard of Saarjti either. I imagine her life as you do - sad. I wish young women today could see the truth of how they are being used and portrayed. As long as they allow themselves (and us) to be used and called derogatory names and make excuses saying it is just how the youth of today are - women are going to pay for it and never taken seriously.

The other day I actually had a woman tell me that if I wanted to be heard I needed to learn how to manipulate people. It disgusted me - I know how to manipulate I just choose not to.

Randi523 said...

Coming from someone that has a kinda big butt (sorry!), I've always wondered: what is the big deal about a big butt??!!

I went to an HBCU, and I attended classes with several students from Africa that were excelling academically. Now we have this woman from Africa, coming to the states to be a video ho-fessional, more than likely making more $$$ than some of the students I spoke of!

Startling similarities though, btwn. Angel and Saartji...

Shelly said...


I would imagine that Angel Lola Luv would not see the parallel. (At least I hope not, otherwise how could she do what she does?) Because unlike Saartji, she is "getting paid". No doubt some pseudo-feminist thinking alongside that about her being "in control" of her life and her career, and her financial independence means that what she is doing is empowering to women everywhere.


We live in a time where many young women see their biggest power being what they look like and how sexy/desirable they are as a result... Shame they can't see that no matter how much you seem to be getting "paid", they price you pay by allowing yourself to be exploited in this way is far, far higher...

I am not judging anyone who chooses to make their money this way but I just wonder how much they really, truly THINK about what they're doing. Is this really what our ancestors went through centuries of humiliation and pain for? For black women to be reduced a large pair of glutes?

Professor Tracey said...


Excellent post - I almost put up the same thing on WAOD. What kills me is that these pictures of Angel have been up on other black blogs for weeks and the only form of discussion has been whether she had butt implants or not!

Black folks know so little about their own history. And we have entirely too many dumb conversations about the wrong stuff.

clnmike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tami said...


Yes, there is a parallel. The only difference is that today more and more black women are complicit in their own denigration.

clnmike said...

Sorry had to clean up the grmatical errors.

I remember reading about Saartji Sarah Baartman the "Hottentot Venus" is what they called her.

When she died I believe they took her body and had it on display in France for a while.

Very Sad I think not to long ago they returned the body to her native land for burial. If you look at it this way, it is the same concept with how women are treated here, disposable.

I am of mixed feelings about matters like these. I believe explotation of women is wrong but when you see a beautiful women half naked, well I am sorry I am going to look. And look really good to.

clnmike said...

Dang it! still mispelled grammar! Another case against dinking and blogging.

Mes Deux Cents said...


I wonder how video vixens would react. It would be very interesting to get them all in a movie theatre to watch a documentary about Saartji.


I think a lot of women have not heard of Saartji. Her story should be required reading in schools.


I wonder what Ethiopian-Americans think of Angel? I bet she's an outcast.


"Is this really what our ancestors went through centuries of humiliation and pain for?"

Wow I wonder that too. I bet our ancestors are turning over in their graves seeing things like this.

Professor Tracey,

Some of "our" blogs are really about nothing.

I hope you will post about Saartji and Angel. The more talk about this the better.


That's unfortunately true. Where are their mothers? Are other opportunities that limited?


"I believe exploitation of women is wrong but when you see a beautiful women half naked, well I am sorry I am going to look. And look really good to."

There is nothing wrong with looking but objectification of humans leads to all sorts of ills.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Professor Tracey,

I added UCLA to the side bar.

Mes Deux Cents said...


(lol) Well don't "dink" too much!

Mango Mama said...

Barbara Chase-Riboub wrote, Hottentot Venus, a great, but painful read detailing Saartji Baartman's story.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Mango Mama,

Thanks for the info. I think I'll stop by the library this week and pick it up.

Don said...

I've always wondered what is the big obsession w/ big butts as well. It really doesn't look all that sexually appealing, imo.

I like women w/ normal sized butts but more than average breast.

So now I guess the question is: what's the big obsession w/ a big chest?

Ehav Ever said...

A few things you have to remember about Angel. Her mother was a native Ethiopian and her father was from Trinidad and her real last name, Melaku, which means angel in Amharic where he moniker comes form. Angel was born in Ethiopia, but her family moved to the United States when she was 1 month old.

There are some who say that her backside is actually implants. I don't think there are any Ethiopians loosing sleep about her or her career choices.

Mes Deux Cents said...


I guess that is the question. (lol)


You really don't think that Ethiopians care about her career choice?

Lisa said...

Never heard of Saartji. . . thanks for the history lesson! As for the mondern verson of Saartji - that just seems unreal - it looks like a deformity and not necessarily attractive - to me.

Ehav Ever said...

Hey MDC,

Most of the Ethiopians I have met would not be concerned about the actions of 1 Ethiopian. Angel is not the first Ethiopian to pose nude (or semi-nude), and more than likely she won't be the last. She also was only born in Ethiopia. She did not grow up there. 1 month of being in Ethiopia as a baby doesn't really buy her anything. Besides her mother is Ethiopian and father is Trinidadian. She has a my space page and she doesn't mention anything about her Ethiopian heritage on it.

Besides there are about 50 or more Ethiopian ethnic groups in Ethiopia. The actions of one Amhara or Tigrenya doesn't affect all Ethiopians. (I think her mother is either from the Tigrenya ethnic group or the Amhara ethnic group).

Ethiopian history has way more high lights to be weighed down by someone calling themselves Lola Luv. Some Ethiopians are Christians, Muslims, Animists, and small minority of Jews. Most people when they think Ethiopia don't think of Lola Luv, or whatever she calls herself. Her family may have a problem with what she is doing, and then again maybe they don't. It is possible that most Ethiopians may not have even heard of her. Even if they have okay who is she compared to Menelek I, Menelek II, Haile Salaise, etc?

clnmike said...

Don said...
I've always wondered what is the big obsession w/ big butts as well. It really doesn't look all that sexually appealing, imo."

Well I just do not know what to say about that. You may be the first brotha I came across to admit that publically.

Mes Deux Cents

Where would you say the line is drawn between objectification and I guess praise for lack of a better word. There has been a lot of complaints about black woman not being viewed as desirable. I would think mags like King although heavy handed with it help dispell that notion.

Liz said...

It has been weird to see Angel's picture all over the place along with the real/not real debate. I knew a lot about Saartji Baartman's life and have made the same mental connections as you to what is being done not just to Angel but to countless black women. It's total objectification and dehumanization.

Mes Deux Cents said...


"Besides there are about 50 or more Ethiopian ethnic groups in Ethiopia. The actions of one Amhara or Tigrenya doesn't affect all Ethiopians."

That's very interesting. I think this might be where African Americans are heading.

Have you read a lot about Angel? I wonder what her teen years were like. I read that she grew up in Washington, D.C.


"Where would you say the line is drawn between objectification and I guess praise for lack of a better word."

Well I'll answer this way; What if when looking through one of the mags you mention you saw a layout with featuring a woman in your family? Would you feel comfortable with them posing like Angel?

If no then that might be because you would clearly see the objectification.

I think that you praise someone’s mind and personality and good things that they do, not body parts.

But also I understand that people are just people so looking is normal, it's the thoughts one has while looking that can be a problem.


It's so sad. It's like some of us are going backward. And it's getting worse.

I can't believe people are debating implants or not.

Ehav Ever said...

Hey MDC,

If African Americans are headed that way I think it is a good thing.

There isn't a lot of information on her. I think most of her fame is hype more than anything else. I actually had never heard of her before your post. From what I seen her life was more than likely not that different from other girls in whatever part of DC she grew up.

Mes Deux Cents said...


You're probably right about her life. It's unfortunate that she chose this route rather than school.

Janie said...

Unfortunately, Angel probably does not see the connection. I did a lesson with my 8th grade students last year about women being objectified, exploited and disrespected in Hip Hop connected to "Mother's Day Radio". Unfortunately, most of the young ladies were not emotionally connected to the disempowerment of being objectified. Many of them felt that they were ultimately empowered by their choice and opportunity to "make money" ( the means to an end argument). Others felt that they were the exception and "as long as you not a ho" there was not a problem.

I knew about Saartjie, but didn't think of this connection. When I do my lesson this year I can use this. I mean they didn't even let this woman rest in peace?! Her genitalia and butt were removed from her body and put on display?! Thanks for the thoughtful post.

clnmike said...

Mes Deux Cents

"I think that you praise someone’s mind and personality and good things that they do, not body parts."

Ok fine than But if I were to see an attracive woman walking down the street I would not be able to say well look at the mind and personality on her? That may be simplistic but do you see what I mean?

Also I think it is unfair to put a family member in that postion since you would not be attracted to your family member.

Now the Lad Mags like King are with out a doubt wrong, but considering what has been considered beautiful by western European norms, well is it that bad?

Mes Deux Cents said...


Wow I applaud you for giving your students a talk many of them will not get otherwise.

Saartjie's story should be a cautionary tale for all of us. More people need to know about her.


I just meant would you mind if a family member was in one of those mags. That might be a test as to your true feelings on the subject.

Also I'm not saying that you or anyone else can't or should not admire someone whom they consider attractive. But there is a difference between simple admiration and objectification.

Miriam said...

Ugh! Do y'all realize what comes out of rear ends?!

Just kidding.

Cln Mike you had me laughing SO HARD with the grammar correction.

Anyway seriously: I do feel its a shame that she should put herself out like that. People need to read some history. Yes, she's getting paid, but as someone said earlier: they price she's paying is probably far higher.

Mes Deux Cents said...


You're right, I'm sure she is paying a very high price.

M.Kam said...

wow, i've never heard that comparison...are she's from ethiopia?

Gabrielle said...

Actually, her real name is Melaku S. Fershgenet. Also, she is only half Ethiopian. The other half is Trinidadian. And she came to the U.S. when she was a baby.

Anonymous said...

Everyone should read Suzan Lori-Parks' VENUS. Beautiful, stunning. Forced to read it for a class and it is truly phenomenal. Not an easy read, but really wonderful

AFROnt said...

Wow, I am amazed at your blog.

As a black , South African teenager, Saartjie’s story has come to be very important to me. I see the parrarels everyday, the way we live out her struggle in our own lives. I actually wrote about the universallity of her story on my own blog.

Your blog reaffirmed my resolve not to become a glamorised version of Saartjie Baartman and for that, I thank you.

Reesseyy boOkie said...


BlackPanthers' Review said...

All I have to say is that if Angel wanted to use her beauty for entertainment she should have been a descent model like ethiopian model Iman. I trully hate how manipulative black women can be( I am not dirty)but manipulation dont have to be sexual or anything. Business wise would you say that you would never manipulate..I'm here to make the best so yes.I wouldnt manipulate to the point of hurting another and if i can do it my self well that is better.But people perform manipulation without even being aware of it.

HOWEVER, saartjie and angel have 2 totally difference frame of reference. Angel must be aware of what she is doing is dogmatic, indescent, and ignorant. Saartjie was humiliated, But saartjie had agreed to go because she thought of making alot of money. so her initial goal and thoughts are the same as angel except angel dont have anyone telling how to when to do her thing. Saartjie had no choice after she agreed to go to europe.

BlackPanthers' Review said...

unless angels occupation is regarded as a sacrifice....I think not! Its women like her whom are ignorant in global issues that blindly advertise stuff like women being trafficked!!!

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About Me

West Coast, United States
African American, Poet?, Vegetarian, Music lover, Agoraphobic, Social Phobic

My Favorite Poet

My Favorite Poet
Staceyann Chin

My Favorite Track Athlete

My Favorite Track Athlete
Christine Arron