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This blog is dedicated to women from Sri lanka and Ethiopia working as domestic workers in Beirut, Lebano
n. These women take upon themselves great voyages to foreign countries in the hope of a better future. Their courage and endurance is outstanding.

As time passes, the issues covered in this blog have expanded to cover other kinds of specific women's work like sex work, historical ways of describing the plight of women: white slavery, human traffic or modern slavery as well identitarian politics and gender...

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18 mai 2008 7 18 /05 /mai /2008 00:17

The rumeur described in this book spread in 1969 in the town of Orleans and consisted in a story whereby innocent girls would be drugged in Jewish clothes shops and dragged through an underground tunnel system to be sold as sex slaves. Contacted by anti-racist and Jewish associations and institutions, Morin and a group of researchers set out to Orleans to explain this modern medieval rumor (Morin, 1969: 109)

Morin sets out to explain the anti-Semitic nature of the rumeur d’Orléans and naturally does not for one moment doubt, the girls had been really kidnapped by a Jewish mafia. Paradoxically, and even if Morin understands the erotic and anti-emancipatory undertones of white slavery, he seems to believe that this phenomenon really exists, and is a maquereau-marsellais-corse specialty. In her book on white slavery, Margaret Stange describes instead the anti-Semitic aspect as a constant in the literature of white slavery, especially in its European version, where it was also tinged with anti-migrant tones. Morin has interestingly no difficulty in seeing through the antisemitic "rumour" but does not manage to deconstruct "white slavery" as a myth as well.

A second major problem of Morin's narrative is that he retains, explicitly without proof, that the rumor originated in the victims themselves. He is convinced that the young girls would invent such stories to make their mothers even more skeptical about their fashion and life choices.
But why would girls, who might  actually really want to go into one of these shops and get the hell out of Orléans invent such a rumour? Morin with much insight describes the town of Orléans as suffering a big problem of migration at the time, as many other province towns, where many women would go to find work in the big cities. Rumours such as white slavery were rather a form of social control of these woman. 

In fact Morin sets out to discover why a juvenile feminine fantasma (Morin, 1969:107) would have such an appeal.  “Ce que nous a appris Orléans c’est notre ignorance des fantasmes de cet autre sexe, que nous fréquentons sans cesse et que nous aimons tant…” (Morin, 1969:103).

Even if Morin is speaking in the name of a researcher group which included women, he manages shamelessly this gallant approach to female mystique. Did the women researches also have the same fantasmas? I doubt so. Did they have an erotic approach to the changing rooms of women’s clothing stores like Morin who manages to set up the whole décor as if it was strip tease?

The myth of white slavery speaks amply of men’s erotic dreams.

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