Abstract

The Jews in early modern Europe were often perceived as distinct from other people not only in their religion, but by virtue of peculiar physical characteristics Among these were a repulsive smell, horms, a tail and a dark skin colour Male Jews were circumcised, which made them physically distinct in the sexual realm It was also widely believed that male Jews menstruated, and the assocation of this trait with the blood hibel intersected the highly charged fields of gender, racism, culture, and blood itself to make the Jews as indeterminate sexually as they were in the religions landscape of Christian Europe. Understanding Jewish male menstruation may also enable us to decipher Shylock's defence of the Jews, providing a completely new interpretation of one of the most famous quotations in English Literature

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