Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Femicide of Mata Hari

I think that "femicide" is a much abused concept but, sometimes, it is appropriate. There is a way of killing women that has to do with the very fact that they are women. And killing the memory of a woman with lies may be even worse than killing her with bullets.

That's what Charles S. Heymans has done with Mata Hari, with this book published in 1930, more than ten years after she had been executed, in 1917. A book so nasty that I wouldn't know where to start - you have to read it to understand how nasty people can be. And not even that sort of nastiness that may come from genuine hate. This is a book that's nasty in its small way - the worst kind of nastiness: gratuitous, silly, uninteresting, stupid.

The kind of nastiness that kills. And it did. 

But, as a redeeming grace, this book has a very nice image on the cover. It is not attributed to anyone anywhere in the book, but whoever made it, had understood something about Mata Hari. Look at her face, with those large eyes. She doesn't look at all like the real Mata Hari,, more like an Oriental Goddess, with a hint of a smile, a hint of sadness, and a hint of wisdom. That was the way she was.

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