Paper Title

Neo-Burlesque/Performative Femininity: Gender Performance and Black Female Burlesque Performers

Panel

Body and Performance

Location

Room 214, West Center

Start Date

31-3-2016 3:30 PM

End Date

31-3-2016 4:45 PM

Keywords

burlesque, neo-burlesque, african american, women, sexuality, gender

Abstract

In this piece, excerpts from both bell hooks’: “Selling Hot Pussy: Representations of Black Female Sexuality in the Cultural Marketplace.” and Audre Lorde’s: “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power” are employed in the examination of the relationship between the Neo-burlesque movement and Black female burlesque performers. More specifically, I explore the historical exploitation of black female sexuality, and the sexual agency that has generally been denied black women for centuries. Through the performance of sexual/tease theatrics, black women who participate in the Neo-burlesque movement are able to perform both against the universal stereotypes associated with black female sexuality, as well as intra community ideals associated with respectability politics. This movement has given black women a safe space to explore and reclaim their sexualities while simultaneously battling with the cultural dissonance that has kept black womanhood and sexuality undefined and not experienced by and for black women. Black women performing their own femininity through these performances is not only a statement of sexual expression, but also a political pronouncement of self-love, unbridled passion, and eroticism.

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Mar 31st, 3:30 PM Mar 31st, 4:45 PM

Neo-Burlesque/Performative Femininity: Gender Performance and Black Female Burlesque Performers

Room 214, West Center

In this piece, excerpts from both bell hooks’: “Selling Hot Pussy: Representations of Black Female Sexuality in the Cultural Marketplace.” and Audre Lorde’s: “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power” are employed in the examination of the relationship between the Neo-burlesque movement and Black female burlesque performers. More specifically, I explore the historical exploitation of black female sexuality, and the sexual agency that has generally been denied black women for centuries. Through the performance of sexual/tease theatrics, black women who participate in the Neo-burlesque movement are able to perform both against the universal stereotypes associated with black female sexuality, as well as intra community ideals associated with respectability politics. This movement has given black women a safe space to explore and reclaim their sexualities while simultaneously battling with the cultural dissonance that has kept black womanhood and sexuality undefined and not experienced by and for black women. Black women performing their own femininity through these performances is not only a statement of sexual expression, but also a political pronouncement of self-love, unbridled passion, and eroticism.