W. Hunter Roberts
In Love and War
February 24 2003
At the march last weekend I saw a sign that made me consider our president in a new light. It had the predictable: “Make Love, Not War,” written on it, but below that was written, “WE MISS CLINTON.”
After having a good laugh, I found myself ruminating on the relationship between sex and militarism, and remembering a trip I took many years ago to the Mediterranean Basin to study ancient religious iconography. I was studying the transition from the worship of the ancient mother goddess to the current version of god, and how exactly that occurred. So I took a pack with a few clothes, a lot of archaeology and mythology texts, slung it over my back, and headed for Egypt and points northeast: Cyprus, Syria, Turkey, and Greece.
I spent untold hours traipsing through archeological sites in the July sun. I sought shelter in musty museums and underground tunnels, and in temples smelling of bats. In the two months I traveled, I saw a lot of icons (incorrectly dubbed idols by the Jewish prophets, but that’s another story). But what I remembered last Sunday was a museum at a site in Syria where there were a large number of Hittite artifacts (the Hittites were a power for about 200 years during the second millennium BCE). Prior to that I had been seeing a lot of Mother Goddesses, figurines of large women in some stage of birth or pregnancy, symbolizing God as fertile giver of life. Following that era, which lasted thousands of years, were the males and females in pelvic embrace, followed shortly thereafter by males with large, erect phalluses, presumably marking men’s discovery of their role in procreation.
But then I noticed something I had never read about, as I followed the chronology of iconography through thousands of years and across civilizations. As society became militarized, the iconography changed in a particular way. I saw it from Cyprus to Greece. The phallus disappeared, and suddenly the statues were carrying pointed swords.
In these Hittite statues, there were no erect anythings---just pointy helmets and pointy swords. Gone was any evidence of sexuality as a sign of power or generativity. Birth had been replaced by murder. Power came, not from the power to give or generate life, but the power to snuff it out. This was further demonstrated by the mythic transition from the earliest Sumarian sexual celebrations used to crown a king, to the later Babylonian tales of slaughter by Marduk, the war god, whose earthly representative the king was said to be. The sword had replaced the phallus
Remembering this, I thought about Bush, brandishing his sword at Saddam. No sexually inappropriate behavior there, ohno. No one would ever accuse old Dubwa of being a player, bless his pointy little head. Interesting how he came right on the heels of our Bad Boy Pres, the one who couldn’t keep his pants zipped, the one with the erect phallus, the one the conservatives went after with a vengeance I’ve not seen before in my political life. God, how they hated Clinton, conservatives and feminist bluestockings alike---Clinton, with all his fleshy charisma, his dick besmirching the Oval Office, his zest for pleasure, even when he shouldn’t.
Perhaps this war is our Puritan legacy (Interesting how the uptight Anglos seem to be the only ones going for it—and their counterpoint, uptight Islamic fundees). Maybe, for so long as we want high testosterone in the White House, we’ve got to choose between the phallus and the sword. As a balding friend said to me, “You use your testosterone your way, I’ll use mine my way.” Personally, I’d prefer a hard cock any day.
© 2005 W. Hunter Roberts. All Rights Reserved.