Fervent Followers of YHWH Flustered by Female Form

Three young women wearing bras and jeans face down Ultra-Orthodox mob.
photo: Times of Israel

This is several days old, but I am still laughing.

Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox men and boys clashed with police Saturday afternoon, blocking traffic and attacking officers during a protest against Shabbat transgression by workers preparing the Eurovision Song Contest final in Tel Aviv on the Jewish day of rest.

As protesters blocked roads beside an ultra-Orthodox area in the center of the city, at least four women stripped down to their bras, forcing the protesters to leave the area due to the prohibition against looking at women in dress deemed immodest.

What the cops could not do, they did. It might work on some Muslims too. Of course, the next escalation could be “Stone the immodest whores!” Follow the link for more examples of this attitude.

Onward with song and beauty! Aphrodite will not be denied.

Aphrodite Will Not Be Denied (3) — and also Hestia.

In a 2003 post titled “Aphrodite Will Not Be Denied,” I linked to Muslim clerics’ criticism of Lebanese pop star Haifa Wehbe.

Another Muslim singer with more complicated ancestry, Deeyah, “irked the Muslim world” with her music videos, and I said, “As I once wrote, ‘Aphrodite will not be denied.’ You either acknowledge the powers of the gods, or they will assert themselves in uncontrollable ways.”

Now it’s an Egyptian’s turn

A female pop star in Egypt has been arrested after posting a “sexually suggestive” music video, in the second such case there in recent months.

Leila Amer appeared in an online video called “Boss Oumek” or “Look at your mother”, which includes sensual oriental dance and provocative gestures.

It also includes household laundry, meal preparation, and ducks. Very sensual ducks.

No joke for Leila Amer, however.

Prosecutors in Egypt have detained the singer for four days for “incitement to debauchery” after the clip sparked controversy in the increasingly conservative country.

Not knowing Arabic, I wonder if the message is somewhere between “Listen to your mom, you slacker” and “A woman’s work is never done.”((From an old folk saying, usually given as “A man may work from sun to sun [dawn to dusk]. but a woman’s work is never done.”)) There is what could be considered a visual allusion to watching online porn.

Even here in the woods, I do know one thirty-something Egyptian woman in the nearest little town. I could ask her to translate, but then, she comes from a devout Coptic Christian family and is now married to an American evangelical Christian, so answering the question, “Why are you interested in this singer?” could get complicated. Or maybe not. Who knows?

A Reason to ‘Love’ Boston

Because the Museum of Fine Arts will have an exhibit opening later this month devoted to “Aphrodite and the Gods of Love.”

And fine birds brought you
quick sparrows over the black earth
whipping their wings down the sky
through midair—

they arrived. But you, O blessed one,
smiled in your deathless face
and asked what (now again) I have suffered and why
(now again) I am calling out

Sappho, trans. Anne Carson
If Not, Winter

Bollywood versus Desert Monotheism

A discussion (with lots of music and dancing) about why Bollywood movies are a devastating weapon against the more radical desert-father monotheisms.

There is some deeper resonance that [these movies] have, which is why people want them. . . . Young people in the Middle East are just lapping up Bollywood.

As I said earlier, Aphrodite will not be denied.  Fight fire with hotness.

Aphrodite Smiles

Back when this blog was young, I wrote a post called “Aphrodite will not be Denied”  about the botheration caused to some Muslim clerics by the sultry Lebanese singer Haifa Wehbe.

If there is anything that drives the mullahs and imams mad, it is female sexuality.

The bloom is off the rose of the recent Egyptian revolution, you may be sure, for now the Muslim Brotherhood, the best-organized political grouping, wants to establish Saudi-style morality police.

Veena Malik

In a video at this link, the Pakistani actress Veena Malik rips into a grim-faced mullah who claims that she has “filled his heart with sadness.”

“No one in Pakistan can look at her pictures in the presence of their daughters,” he rants. (These mullahs can accelerate from reasonable to rant in 2.4 seconds.)

“I don’t think that her [hypothetical?] son will like to look at his mother’s pictures in the future.” (It’s always all about the boys.)

Whereupon she rips him a new one, suggesting, for example, that he concern himself with Islamic clergy who rape the little boys that they are supposed to be teaching. (Sound familiar?)

In American political discourse, however, feminist values too lead to some odd turnings when they conflict with the mainstream media narrative about “the religion of peace.”

For example, when Time magazine ran a picture of  a young Afghan woman mutilated by the Taliban for an alleged sexual offense, the New York Times dismissed the photo as “war porn.”

And although Veena Malik might be shocked to hear it, I see the power of Aphrodite in her “smackdown” of the ranting mullah.  As as goddess, she can manifest how and when she pleases.

Did the Earth Move for You?

Ayatollah Kazem Sedighi of Iran explains that women cause Middle Eastern earthquakes.

“Many women who dress inappropriately … cause youths to go astray, taint their chastity and incite extramarital sex in society, which increases earthquakes,” Ayatollah Kazem Sedighi told worshippers at overnight prayers in Tehran.

It’s the way that they walk, you see. So we must hide them in order to have a proper Islamic society.

Did Poseidon the earth-shaker ever lust after mortal women? I could imagine a great music video here for someone along the line of Haifa Wehbe or Madonna.


Aphrodite and Revolution

You don’t think of her as a political deity, but a (London) Times writer suggests that Aphrodite Pandemos contributes to the success or failure of popular revolutions.

This theory, which I first heard from a friend in Armenia, holds that popular upheavals only stand a chance of success if a country’s most beautiful young women come out on to the streets.

The idea being that even the most politically indifferent young men want to be where the pretty girls are and that this creates a critical mass at demonstrations that causes a regime to lose confidence in its ability to prevail. To paraphrase Marx, the young men feel they have nothing to lose but their virginity.

Mars and Venus Are in Love

Ich bin ein siegreicher Unterwasserkommandant.

The July issue of the popular military history magazine Armchair Generalhas my name in it. Two other readers and I were named winners of the “You Command” contest in the March issue, involving a U-boat attack on an Atlantic convoy in 1943.

It’s a sort of essay question: You are given a scenario with three tactical options, and you must pick one and justify it in writing. They print excerpts from the winning entries.

So I decided to try, and I won. Everything I know about commanding submarines I learned by reading and by playing Gato and Harpoon — computer games.

Ensign William Thomas BaileyIt felt odd to write my entry. The man in the photo popped into my head, which was a bit creepy. His name was Ensign William Thomas Bailey. In March 1942 he married the woman who would become my stepmother, and in September 1942 his ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat and sunk with all hands. She waited in New Orleans for three more months until it was obvious no miracle was going to bring him back, then eventually went to work for the Army in Honolulu where she led an active social life involving beaches, restaurants, high-ranking officers, and drinks with umbrellas in them.

Mars and Venus are in love.

Armchair General’s publisher, Eric Weider, tries to make that point in his July editorial, answering critics who claim that study of military history is “odd or even morbid.” The trappings of war are beautiful (airplanes, uniforms, music, etc.), and war is an activity that brings out not just the worst but the best in its participants.

The psychologist James Hillman, whose “polytheistic psychology” has changed my thinking quite a bit, threw himself against the same problem in his recent book A Terrible Love of War. He takes the combat-as-ecstasy (literally being outside your everyday self) line, but also refuses to think that war can be wished away with perfect social engineering.

Notes from a 2002 conference about the book, by someone wrestling with Hillman’s message:

What if Aphrodite were akin to Pan? What if she valued, not war, but Ares himself, a man-god, a relationship, a lover, yes, a lover, not a warrior?

• A reviewer at GlobalSecurity.org contemplates Hillman’s connection between ideological wars and monotheism:

Being reveals itself as “War” in the West not because of Homer’s glorification of it, but because it is nourished by the extreme monotheism of Christianity, an “Old Testamament’warrior’ God of Jaweh, tacked onto a New Testament without War (“Turn the other cheek, and give your enemy your cloak). . . . Now war has become “Apollonic” because “It was Apollo who chases, but fails to consummate his relations in closeness.” Here Hillman does not hesitate to draw the inevitable conclusions from the fact that Ares always lies down with Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love. From ancient Sumner to present day Iraq the story is the same: the thrill, the glory, and the ‘erotics” of war pass every other experience in intensity and delight. The hold of war is as powerful as Eros, indeed, IS Eros: “There is no beauty like it, because its beauty is evil” said one soldier, echoing Baudelaire. Can anyone be so foolish as to blieve that this violence is only incidental, only or purely contextual? The much touted “Sex AND violence” of the so called “conservatives”? Do we think that television generates it?

• It has even made it to YouTube.

It’s a book that I will need to re-read one day, trying to understand how the energies of the gods show themselves in our lives and our culture.

And I am waiting for a stronger connection to be made between polytheistic psychology and religious polytheism. Too many people who espouse the latter still conduct their mental lives within a more agnostic psychology (think of behaviorism, for instance). The gods, as the poets tell us, have their own agendas, which sometimes rip our lives apart. How do you give them enough, but not too much? Is Ares satiated with computer-game slaughters?