Posted by: emmadamato | October 27, 2010

In response to Meghan’s post- than a tangent

I wanted to include images but didn’t know how to in a comment

One image that sticks out in my mind (because it is almost impossible that it wouldn’t) is of Blanche Dumas the famous three legged prostitute. She is remembered as a departure from the “normal human type” rather than an acceptable sexual icon. Her image still exists as a archiving of her freakishness and her oddity status. She was born in 1860 with one torso, three legs, two sets of breasts and two fully developed vaginas, and a notably “high libido”. Her freakishness was attributed to her biracial mother. It seems like her story could have been inserted into McClintock’s first chapter. As a model for degeneration Dumas not existed outside the normal human type in terms of labor and class and race but as a physical extreme. Two vaginas, with the sole purpose of sexual pleasure rather than reproduction! what could be more threatening?

Blache Dumas was an incredibly successful prostitute. I think that men are incredibly interested in sexually conquering women they fear.  I think this is possibly the root of the oedipus complex. The language of imperial conquest and sex are so similar because I think the experience for men is similar. The balancing act that McClintock writes about between “imperial megalomania, with its fantasy of unstoppable rapine- and a contradictory fear of engulfment, with its fantasy of dismemberment and emasculation” seems just as present in the bedroom.In the play Venus by Suzan-Lori Parks, based on the Venus Hottentot, men gather around the cage the are keeping Saartjie Baartman and with uncontrollable lust and anger touch themselves and violate her body. Her hypersexualised body is compared to a man’s and the depictions of her genitals are very masculine.

Victorian Erotica was full of rape stories, including The Man and the Maid- a hugely popular book at the time that tells story after story of violent sexual conquest,

This is amazons description: “Man With A Maid tells the story of Jack, a Victorian gentleman, who plots sweet revenge on the fiancee who jilts him, not to mention her maid, a close friend, and his rival’s mother-in-law. Setting up residence in the ‘Snuggery,’ once the soundproof “”mad room”” of an insane asylum, he subjects Alice and the rest of his female company to bondage and orgiastic sexuality, dealing out both pleasure and pain in exacting revenge.”

The national model of sexually orders of power had to exist within the home to be so successful for the empire. Popularizing sexual fetishes within museums, literature, and other media was a way for it to exist within the private familiar space. The family is the nation and therefore sexual violent conquest would be successful as a mode for international relations.

blah blah blah, I feel like i have a lot of more points before this makes sense, but its making me feel like a pervert


  1. Thanks for this post — fascinating stuff! I didn’t know Suzan Lori-Parks had written about the Hottentot Venus, and the story of Blanche Dumas is so intriguing — I can’t even figure out how to begin analyzing her story…

  2. i know! its nuts! also around the same time there was a three legged man with two penises and they did it together!

  3. Sorry to be responding so late! I am on the go, so I will respond in more depth later, but I just wanted to let you know I saw this and wanted to say thanks! That is incredible. I also think the Hottentot Venus is fascinating, and like Melissa, I didn’t relize Suzan Lori-Parks had written about her!

  4. Is the author of Man with A Maid known? I’m curious because of the time when it was written, I’d assume the author was a man. However, the highly controversial The Story of O was written by a woman in the 1950’s by Anne Desclos to prove to her boyfriend that women were able to write erotic fiction. The result was a highly explicit and sado-masochistic novel.

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