Johannes Burgers

Beyond Belle Juive and Femme Fatale: Rewriting the Female Jewish Body in Fin-de-Siècle England, France and Germany

Jahrgang 25 () / Heft 1, S. 62-83 (22)

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From roughly the 1860s to the Great War, the English, German and French popular media was in the thrall of the »white slave trade,« a supposed criminal enterprise that trafficked young women across the globe for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation. Jewish men were often accused of being the masterminds behind these operations, and Jewish women of aiding and abetting them as prostitutes and madams. I contend that, by being cast as both victim and perpetrator in the white slave trade, representations of Jewish sex worker's bodies were both contradictory and incoherent. Using popular media and the blockbuster texts, The Council of Love (1894) by Oskar Panizza and George Du Maurier's Trilby (1894), I show how these representations were projected onto Jewish women's bodies more generally, and how Jewish women thereby became exemplary of gender, race and sexual difference. This representation was both contradictory and divorced from reality, but very effective in further marginalizing Jewish women from society.

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