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Evil Sisters: The Threat of Female Sexuality…
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Evil Sisters: The Threat of Female Sexuality in Twentieth-Century Culture

by Bram Dijkstra

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1141166,018 (4.28)None
Bram Dijkstra's new book, ten years in work, is a stunning inquiry into the idea of woman as seductress: how, in many areas of twentieth-century high and popular culture, the female came to be portrayed as a regressive, primitive force whose sexuality could destroy the social order, undermining the supremacy of the white male - and shows the devastating historical effects of this portrayal. Dijkstra begins his analysis with the 1915 silent film A Fool There Was, in which Theda Bara first embodied our century's vision of the Vamp - kohl-eyed, predatory, seducing respectable men and destroying them with her voracious appetite. The part played by turn-of-the-century biologists, gynecologists, psychologists, geneticists, and sociologists in helping to develop distorted ideas of gender, sex, and race is examined. And Dijkstra shows how these distortions have been reflected in painting; in popular and literary fiction, from Bram Stoker's Dracula to the novels of Conrad, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Faulkner; and in cinema's femmes fatales, from Louise Brooks, Garbo, and Dietrich to the fatal women of the 1990s. Finally, the book makes shockingly clear how the parallel paths of the new style of misogyny and racism merged in the 1920s during the rise of nationalist politics - converging in Hitler's Mein Kampf and the politics of genocide.… (more)

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Being an examination of the contemporary world's obsession with women who are evil and/or dominant. The book is a continuation of the author's masterpiece Idols of Perversity, which approached the same theme in nineteenth-century terms through the narrower lens of paintings. This book, though good, is a lesser book for being less focused and too often using interpretations which are elaborately strained. ( )
  Big_Bang_Gorilla | May 22, 2011 |
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