“Ideologies of race, of course, shaped and reflected both popular and scientific understandings of gender. As Gilman has argued, “Any attempt to establish that the races were inherently different rested to no little extent on the sexual difference of the black.” Although popular racist mythology in the nineteenth-century United States focused on the supposed difference between the size of African-American and white men’s genitalia, the male body was not necessarily the primary site of medical inquiry into racial difference. Instead, as a number of medical journals from this period demonstrate, comparative anatomists repeatedly located racial difference through the sexual characteristics of the female body. 

In exploring the influence of scientific studies of race on the emerging discourse of sexuality, it is useful to look closely at a study from the genre of comparative anatomy. In 1867, W. H. Flower and James Murie published an “Account of the Dissection of a Bushwoman,” which carefully cataloged the various “more perishable soft structures of the body” of a young Bushwoman. They placed their study in a line of inquiry concerning the African woman’s body that had begun at least a half-century earlier with French naturalist Georges Cuvier’s description of the woman popularly known as the “Hottentot Venus,” or Saartje Baartman, who was displayed to European audiences fascinated by her “steatopygia” (protruding buttocks). Significantly, starting with Cuvier, this tradition of comparative anatomy located the boundaries of race through the sexual and reproductive anatomy of the African female body, ignoring altogether the problematic absence of male bodies from their study. 

Flower and Murie’s account lingered on two specific sites of difference: the “protuberance of the buttocks, so peculiar to the Bushman race” and “the remarkable development of the labia minora,” which were “sufficiently well marked to distinguish these parts from those of any ordinary varieties of the human species” (p. 208). The racial difference of the African body, implied Flower and Murie, was located in its literal excess, a specifically sexual excess that placed her body outside the boundaries of the “normal” female. To support their conclusion, Flower and Murie included corroborating “evidence” in the final part of their account. They quoted a secondhand report, “received from a scientific friend residing at the Cape of Good Hope,” describing the anatomy of “two pure bred Hottentots, mother and daughter” (p. 208). This account also focused on the women’s genitalia, which they referred to as “appendages” (p. 208). Although their account ostensibly foregrounded boundaries of race, their portrayal of the sexual characteristics of the Bushwoman betrayed Flower and Murie’s anxieties about gender boundaries. The characteristics singled out as “peculiar” to this race, the (double) “appendages,” fluttered between genders, at one moment masculine, at the next moment exaggeratedly feminine. Flower and Murie constructed the site of racial difference by marking the sexual and reproductive anatomy of the African woman as “peculiar”; in their characterization, sexual ambiguity delineated the boundaries of race. 

The techniques and logic of late nineteenth-century sexologists, who also routinely included physical examinations in their accounts, reproduce the methodologies employed by comparative anatomists like Flower and Murie. Many of the case histories included in Krafft-Ebing’s Psychopathia Sexualis, for instance, included a paragraph detailing any anatomical peculiarities of the body in question. Although Krafft-Ebing could not draw any conclusions about somatic indicators of “abnormal” sexuality, physical examinations remained a staple of the genre. In Ellis’s Sexual Inversion, case studies often focused more intensely on the bodies of female “inverts” than those of their male counterparts. Although the specific sites of anatomical inspection (hymen, clitoris, labia, vagina) differed, the underlying theory remained constant: women’s genitalia and reproductive anatomy held a valuable and presumably visual key to ranking bodies according to norms of sexuality. 

Sexologists reproduced not only the methodologies of the comparative anatomy of races, but also its iconography. One of the most consistent medical characterizations of the anatomy of both African-American women and lesbians was the myth of an unusually large clitoris. As late as 1921, medical journals contained articles declaring that “a physical examination of [female homosexuals] will in practically every instance disclose an abnormally prominent clitoris.” Significantly, this author added, “This is particularly so in colored women.” In an earlier account of racial differences between white and African-American women, one gynecologist had also focused on the size and visibility of the clitoris; in his examinations, he had perceived a distinction between the “free” clitoris of “negresses” and the “imprisonment” of the clitoris of the “Aryan American woman.” In constructing these oppositions, these characterizations literalized the sexual and racial ideologies of the nineteenth century “Cult of True Womanhood,” which explicitly privileged white women’s sexual “purity,” while it implicitly suggested African-American women’s sexual accessibility.”

Siobhan Somerville, ‘Scientific Racism and the Emergence of the Homosexual Body.


Hey everyone!

I’m opening emergency commissions after a fault with my financial aid at school! I will only be offering one type of commission, Fashion Gifs.

FULL BODY FASHION GIF  - $100 (examples a b c d)

A colored, full body character illustration with 4 outfits and undergarments, drawn at 8.5x11 inches, 300 DPI. You receive both animated and static files.

If you are interested in a spot, please send an email to:

Thank you so much!

azuremosquito  asked:

💧 Anders

(You’re a monster)

Anders, feat. my Hawke, Siobhán.  Their lives during/after the events of Inquisition are… hard.  Very hard.  I’ll leave it at that.

Art Tag | Patreon | Twitter

(send me a 💧 and a character’s name and I’ll draw a picture of them crying - Tumblr prompts are currently full but I’m still accepting prompts from patrons on my Patreon!)

Watch on

Psyopus - Siobhan’s Song

“Give me a hug.”

And so, Mari finally get her well-deserved hug, and Kanan gets the hug she’d wanted all along too. aka, this scene broke me so I drew it.

Artwork © 2016 Siobhan (
Mari, Kanan and Love Live! Sunshine!! © Ascii Media Works’ Dengeki G Magazine, Lantis, and Sunrise
Do not use without permission, and please don’t repost/remove credits; thank you!

if alex really is the gay character who is gonna come out this year, i will be so damn happy. if they pair her with maggie, i will actually ascend to a higher plane

A window. Half a page in its ghostly keel, fading
from the flagstaff. Your desultory prophet remains
ungrasped. The rust-red keychain of lightning.
Nimbus mimicking the hurricaned atlas of every mind.
A room so duty-bound to the redeemer of its unpublished
perdition. Polite hollow. My promised hand.
My blindness for the present is a deftly silk
-wormed gossamer of highway fog, a pilgrimage I am
but won’t witness. On the bevel of my backbone,
the sun has printed its sleepless mirages. My want
is a dark kingdom haloing the seagull-scioned shoal.
The body is the thresholded beak of every misspoken ark.
If you uphold yourself as a messiah’s apprentice, you’d better
learn the feather-scarred cartographies of a million dead
languages. Your silence will be the shape of apple blossoms.
Your feet will cadence each flattened country
to a tympani of untranslated threnodies .
And your eyes will have broken their glass
beads at the altar of a God finally torn
from the dull blue music of his water-mirrored sky.  

Scherezade Siobhan