Twerk It Girl
Self-proclaimed “twerk scholar” Kimari Brand created this five-minute documentary on twerking as a feminist issue while studying at University of Texas. Brand used her experiences—including a course on feminism and performance art, her study abroad experience studying Caribbean culture, and her own experiences as a black woman—to argue that twerking is empowering, and not demeaning. The fact that twerking is appropriated as extremely sexualized and as pertaining to low-income people of color have given it stigma, which Brand fights against. I love this documentary because the represented groups are women of color who are being empowered and not exploited by the content creator—a scholar and woman of color herself.
Black women have been fetishized, objectified, and exploited for their physical features for centuries—perhaps one of the clearest examples of this is Sara Baartman, “a Khosian woman who was taken from Cape Town to Europe in 1810, where she became a traveling human exhibit of racial and sexual difference. […] she was ‘inscribed as the iconic figure of African womanhood in metropolitan fantasies: as fundamentally primitive and lacscivious” (Munro 390). This stereotype of women based off of the example of Baartman “shaped the ways in which black female bodies are viewed: with an emphasis on the rear end as a signifier of deviant sexuality. As a result, such associations of black female sexuality with animalistic characteristics emerge not just in pseudo-scientific studies of human anatomy but also in popular culture” (Munro 390). It is in this very way that twerking is seen as sexualized, when in reality it is merely “performance art,” as Brand says.
Source: Munro, “Caster Semenya: Gods and Monsters”