Concerning the rape-bears of northern Iraq...

>> Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Even an animal respects a man's desire, if it wants to copulate with him. Doesn't a female bear try to please a herdsman when she drags him into the mountains as it happens in the North of Iraq? She drags him into her den, so that he, obeying her desire, would copulate with her? Doesn't she bring him nuts, gathering them from the trees or picking them from the bushes? Doesn't she climb into the houses of farmers in order to steal some cheese, nuts and even raisins, so that she can feed the man and awake in him the desire to have her?

-a passage from Saddam Hussein's
Zabiba and the King,
(as quoted by Suzanne Merkleson,
"Bad Politics, Worse Prose,"
Foreign Policy, April 8th, 2011)

Because, you know, as if I needed any other reasons to stay the hell away from Iraq, there's also the lovelorn bear rapists in the north. (As in bears who rape, not rapists who go after bears, though, honestly, after reading that, gods only know. Though I don't think I have as much to worry about from men who rape bears as I apparently do from a ladybear who takes a shine to me.)

Q: How do you know if you're being mauled by an Iraqi bear?
A: Can you hear Barry White in the background?

One notes that the bear doesn't try to get the herdsman drunk, perhaps because she respects Islamic restrictions on the consumption of alcohol (wine = forbidden; sex with bears = possibly okay but try to hold out for hors d'œuvres). But I'm still trying to figure out whether this makes Iraqi bears superior or inferior to our American bears, which (unless I'm much mistaken) will frequently avoid contact unless attracted by food or unless they perceive a threat to themselves or their cubs, and then will merely maul the hell out of a human instead of trying to get a little something-something for themselves first. And note that the late Iraqi dictator isn't saying that an Iraqi bear won't maul her paramour; it's perfectly conceivable that after the loving is done, she'll bite off an arm or rip someone's face off or something. Hopefully just a face.

For a brief moment I even entertained the notion that the late Iraqi dictator was speaking euphemistically. I don't mean metaphorically (Ms. Merkleson, in the Foreign Policy piece, helpfully tells us, "The book's English translator believes the bear is supposed to represent Russia"); I mean that "bear" is, as you may be aware, a slang term--here, here's some help from Wikipedia:

Bear is LGBT slang for those in the bear communities, a subculture in the gay/bisexual male communities and an emerging subset of LGBT communities with events, codes and culture-specific identity. It can also be used more generically to describe a physical type.

Bears tend to have hairy bodies and facial hair; some are heavy-set or muscular; some project an image of working-class masculinity in their grooming and appearance, though none of these are requirements or unique indicators. Some bears place importance on presenting a hypermasculine image and may shun interaction with, and even disdain, men who exhibit effeminacy. The bear concept can function as an identity, an affiliation, and an ideal to live up to, and there is ongoing debate in bear communities about what constitutes a bear, however a consensus exists that inclusion is an important part of the bear community.

Bears are almost always gay or bisexual men, although increasingly transgender men (transmen) and those who shun labels for gender and sexuality are also included within bear communities.

One observes that Saddam Hussein was, himself, a hirsute, heavy-set man who made some big deal about his masculinity and prowess (well, come on, I'm not trying to imply anything, but it's true). Perhaps what he was trying to tell us in Zabiba and the King is that northern Iraq is or was home to roving gangs of burly-but-romantic gay men out cruising for shepherds. Given the sad cultural tendencies towards homophobia in the Middle East, one might even see something heroic and tender in the fanciful image of bearded, leather-clad men, prohibited from seeking human contact in Baghdad, Basra and Tikrit, roaming the plains with their carefully-gathered gifts and offerings. One might even see something surprisingly progressive, on this subject at least, in Hussein's accepting treatment of these poor, lovelorn men.

But, no. Sadly. Looking at the paragraph again, and assuming the translator wasn't so daft as to misconstrue a subject's gender, Hussein is repeatedly talking about female bears; an oxymoron, I believe (though I'm no expert), unless we're talking about a member of family Ursidae. No, I'm afraid the rape-bears of northern Iraq are shaggy quadripeds armed with huge claws and an insatiable hunger for hominid lovin'.

Which, as I think about it, does suggest a hypothesis. Many believe that Mesopotamia was the cradle of civilization, and give much of the credit for the birth of civilization to the Fertile Crescent's fecundity and geography. But what if the impetus driving the unification of human beings into the first sustainable cultures wasn't the opportunities afforded by agriculture? What if humans banded together and developed civilization to defend themselves against horny bears?

Think about it. The development of writing and record keeping? Lets you keep track of whether bear rapes are on the rise or decline and to post signs warning people away from places frequented by Iraqi rape-bears. Agriculture? Allows you to hoard food so you don't have to go outside where the rape-bears roam. Irrigation? Bear-moats. The wheel? Bear-evasion device. Division of labor and the rise of a caste system based partly on military training? It's useful to have a class of trained bear-fighters supported by agrarian peasants in exchange for protection from being bear-raped. Fermented beverages? Well would you want to be sober if you've been caught by a rape-bear? Learning to quarry and work stone? Bear-walls, duh. Religion? There are no atheists in rape-bear holes.

I submit to you that almost any achievement of a stone-age civilization has, not coincidentally, an anti-ursine application. In which case, I suppose, we ought to praise Iraqi rape-bears for being the mothers of human civilization... but not too much. If you know what I mean.


Nathan Wednesday, April 13, 2011 at 1:34:00 AM EDT  

I finally figured it out. You're laying the groundwork for a "not guilty by reason of mental defect" defense.


Either way, I love the bizarre way your mind works.

Steve Buchheit Wednesday, April 13, 2011 at 8:38:00 AM EDT  

"sex with bears = possibly okay but try to hold out for hors d'œuvres"

Damn you, Eric. That's another keyboard ruined. I'm going to have to start buying them in six-packs.

And this puts a whole different spin on the Dancing Bear routines so popular in past times.

Leanright,  Wednesday, April 13, 2011 at 11:03:00 AM EDT  

Kudos Eric. I've now urinated myself with laughter, and it's only 8:00 in the morning!

I will never go to the zoo again without a bottle of cabernet and a nice raw salmon again.

I'm SO getting some next time!

Tom Wednesday, April 13, 2011 at 1:51:00 PM EDT  

Teddy bears, genetic memory of amorous adventures with bears, or agression therapy to prove to youth that they can dominate bears?

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