The Orientalist slave fantasy reached prime time in 1919, with the publication of Edith Hull’s colossal best-seller, The Sheik, which basically invented the rape/romance novel genre (Gone with the Wind wasn’t until ‘36). In 1921, it was made into a “photoplay” starring Rudolph Valentino in the title role, and he quickly became one of the first Hollywood sex symbols, with frequent reports of women screaming and fainting in the theaters. (The book itself had sold so many copies that reviewers claimed that 2/3 of the women in America had read it. Surely a lie, but…)
The heroine of the novel, Diana, is a straw feminist tomboy who hates men, but it’s OK, she just needed to get abducted and made into the sex slave of a dashing Arab chieftain, and she got over it. Here she is right after being told she’s going to be raped the first time:
Terror, agonising, soul-shaking terror such as she had never imagined, took hold of her. The flaming light of desire burning in his eyes turned her sick and faint. Her body throbbed with the consciousness of a knowledge that appalled her. She understood his purpose with a horror that made each separate nerve in her system shrink against the understanding that had come to her under the consuming fire of his ardent gaze, and in the fierce embrace that was drawing her shaking limbs closer and closer against the man’s own pulsating body. She writhed in his arms as he crushed her to him in a sudden access of possessive passion. His head bent slowly down to her, his eyes burned deeper, and, held immovable, she endured the first kiss she had ever received. And the touch of his scorching lips, the clasp of his arms, the close union with his warm, strong body robbed her of all strength, of all power of resistance.
With a great sob her eyes closed wearily, the hot mouth pressed on hers was like a narcotic, drugging her almost into insensibility. Numbly she felt him gather her high up into his arms, his lips still clinging closely, and carry her across the tent through curtains into an adjoining room. He laid her down on soft cushions. “Do not make me wait too long,” he whispered, and left her.