The Politics of Sexual Fantasies : The Inversion of Sexual Fantasies in Orientalism and Occidentalism

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The Politics of Sexual Fantasies : The Inversion of Sexual Fantasies in Orientalism and Occidentalism

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Publication BookChapter
Title The Politics of Sexual Fantasies : The Inversion of Sexual Fantasies in Orientalism and Occidentalism
Author(s) Ouis, Pernilla
Date 2015
Editor(s) Larsson, Mariah; Johnsdotter, Sara
English abstract
May a sexual fantasy have political implications? Or to put the question in another way, may political circumstances influence certain sexual stereotypes of the Other? The West has been accused for constructing an Eroticized Other of the Oriental within the discourse of Orientalism. Particularly the veil seems to evoke certain sexual fantasies with political connotations: The unveiling of the Oriental woman can be regarded as a classical Western sexual fantasy, as well as a symbolic colonial conquest of the territory of the Other. The seductive and decadent odalisque in the harem is another fantasy to be contrasted to the Victorian puritan sexual morality in the colonial age. These types of sexual fantasies and the ethnopornography had certain political implications, i.e. the conquest and submission of the Other according to Said’s (1978) influential analysis on Orientalism. In the present chapter it is elaborated upon the Western colonial sexual fantasy of the Orient. Furthermore, it is investigated whether or not this fantasy was purely a fantasy, or if it was some facts in their representation of Oriental sexuality. Representations and fantasies of the Occident that exist in the Orient today will be discussed. In the postcolonial age, the idea of a Oriental and an Occidental sexuality seem to have been inversed: The promiscuous Oriental has become the puritan, while the former so civilized, controlled, Christian colonizer has become the one with a decadent and bestialic sexuality. This postcolonial discourse on Western sexuality will be put in its political context of Islamism and yet another sexualized stereotype of the Other; i.e. the promiscuous, immoral Westerner in the discourse of Occidentalism. Hence, the aim of this chapter is to discuss how the sexual fantasy about the Other – regardless who – plays a crucial role in the “clash of civilizations” (Huntington 1996) between the West and the rest and how it is used by both sides. The usual mode is to ascribe all negative characteristics to the Other, and hence, when the norms and values changes within a society, the imagined stereotype must also change to fit in. The methodology for understanding these processes is a literature review of colonial/Orientalist, postcolonial and Islamist/Occidentalist writings.
Publisher Peter Lang Academic Research
Host/Issue Sexual Fantasies : At the Convergence of the Cultural and the Individual
ISBN 978-3-631-64940-4
Pages 79-97
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) Orientalism
Sexual fantasy
sexual stereotypes
Humanities/Social Sciences
Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES
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