When you think of a femme fatale, you're likely to picture the stock character found in the arts – movies, paintings, books, and even comic books ensnaring, enchantresses. Good looking, but not good.

“Hell’s vengeance boils in my heart,” the lyrics in the aria that Queen of the Night sings in Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” could be the theme song for the exhibit at Hamburger Kunsthalle in Germany titled “Femme Fatale.”

Male fantasy

Exhibit curator Markus Bertsch calls the femme fatale a myth concocted by men about women who they think are possessed by a “demonic nature” luring them to their destruction.

Included in the 200-painting exhibit are the usual suspects such as Jezebel, Salome and Medusa by artists like Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The stated aim of the show is to take a critical look at this man-made myth.

This is a worthy aim. As The Art Newspaper smartly states, this show “puts itself at the heart of the contemporary discussion of feminism.”

But there’s another myth that goes unmentioned here. You can see it in the exhibit example of Maria Lassnig’s 1979 painting “Women Power.”

Rather than the usual pinup of a bare woman, hers goes to another extreme just as mythic beginning with her picture title. Female power (a joke when you think of countries ruling women’s bodies with laws about reproductive rights).

At issue

But that’s not my issue with Lassnig’s painting. “Women Power” looks like the female version of the Hulk, or a Marvel Comics muscular humanoid stomping through the world.

Is that what woman power looks like? Despite the exposed anatomy, the woman doesn’t look like the usual female. More like the Hulk’s sister.

Another concern with this show: Franz von Stuck’s 1926 painting “Judith und Holofernes” doesn’t belong in a collection about femme fatales.

She was not a femme fatale. She was a biblical heroine.

Scripture describes Judith as an ascetic widow who saved her people by slaying the enemy commander who was leading the Assyrian army against Jerusalem.

Yes, she slayed the commander, General Holofernes, but it was a case of self-defense against his troops invading her town.

Far from a vixen, Judith was a hero on par with David who slayed Goliath. The Assyrians had cut off the water supply of her town – Bethulla – which led to Jerusalem.

The invasion lasted 34 days and the town’s magistrates were ready to surrender. Judith had the better idea.

I think the lone reason that Von Stuck's painting was bunched with those of demonic women is that Judith is pictured without clothes. The artist stripped her as she wielded a sword over Holofernes.

Removing Judith’s clothes and picturing her as an aggressor against a male made it a logical choice for a show called “Femme Fatale.”

But, if you follow that logic, any painting of a nude female in the company of a male, even of a rapist, is a femme fatale for inducing the attack.

This would mean that all the bare-skinned women in the jillion rape paintings in art history were temptresses. If you take that argument far enough, you get Picasso’s monstrous-looking “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.” You get women-hating.