Okay, Sara Baartman was a victim of reproductive imperialism.
The ‘gaze’ unique white capitalist social system constructed Ms. Baartman as an exotic thing – not a woman with feelings, desires, and surely not as a potential mother and nurturer. But did Ms. Baartman have any power to counteract, resist, or even find agency within the gaze? Or, once this imperialist gaze occurs for Black women, is that it? Is everyone else who exists through this gaze like Ms. Baartman or decides to coopt the gaze as identity, for finance, or to explore sexuality, doomed to be considered a product of white reproductive imperialism?
That is to be a sell-out trampling on Ms. Baartman’s memory, pain, and horror at being objectified in such a manner, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Sometimes I get so tired of everything that Black women do with their bodies being critiqued in relation to a history of imperialism. Yes, it is important to know where we come from and how the white capitalist social system acts on us. It must be possible at some point, however, to cut the white reproductive imperialist umbilical cord that links what we decide to do with our bodies TODAY to what was done to our bodies 400 plus years ago. This is the system we live in. We should be able to use it to our advantage, for our survival, for empowerment. These are the options that are presented to us through the gaze with its ties to capitalism. Instead of always critiquing, complaining, and linking, we should be reordering, redefining - strving to conceive a deeper, more complex understandings of agency within reproductive imperialism.