chapter  2
28 Pages

Sexualizing the Other

For the British, the 'Orient' was an arena of sexual possibilities, thus 'Oriental' women were often stereotypically othered by being considered sensuous, alluring and sexually available, in opposition to the ideal of the vulnerable, spiritual and pure Englishwoman. The pliant self-sacrifice of the objects of male fantasy acts as a contrast to the more common stereotype of the sexually assertive 'Oriental' female Other. Opinions on 'Oriental' female sexuality that are only hinted at in the sensuousness of the women in Bishop's works are more obviously depicted in the mid-century works – this is partly owing to the works' comical stance, allowing the librettists to say more daring things 'in jest' than would be acceptable in serious drama. The assertive sexuality of 'Oriental' women was frequently taken for granted, and one way in which their othered licentiousness was presented on the later nineteenth-century stage was through sensual dance.