Cuvier’s dissection of Baartman helped shape European science. The “savage woman” was seen as very distinct from the “civilised female” of Europe, thus nineteenth-century scientists were fascinated by “the Hottentot Venus”. In the 1800s, folks in London were able to pay two shillings apiece to gaze upon her physique in surprise. For extra pay, one may even poke her with a stick or finger. Baartman’s organs, genitalia, and buttocks had been considered evidence of her sexual primitivism and intellectual equality with that of an orangutan. Many African female diasporic artists have criticized the standard iconography of Baartman.
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