Sex and Romance. In evolutionary psychology, it’s cited as one of the basic driving forces in human behavior. It’s a factor in every social structure, even those in counter-insurgency environments. With that said, I came across two articles this past week regarding male-female relationships in Iraq.
The first came from Corey in Afghanistan, and regards romance. Iraq-style. In the West, couples might exchange rings, flowers, chocolate and the like. In Iraq, however, it seems that young males give a gift of a different sort, according to the New York Times:
It goes like this: Boy meets girl. They exchange glances and text messages, the limit of respectable courting here. Then boy asks girl’s father for her hand. Dad turns him down. Boy goes to girl’s house and plants a bomb out front.
The authorities call it a “love I.E.D.,” or improvised explosive device, and it is not just an isolated case. Capt. Nabil Abdul Hussein of the Iraqi national police said that six had exploded in the Dora neighborhood of Baghdad alone in the past year.
[One suitor] was rejected by his girlfriend’s father three times, and then one day she called to tell him that her father was bringing another suitor over to meet her. Cisco planted a bomb by their garden wall and set it off.
Link number two came from Small Wars Journal’s daily roundup and concerns the changing social mores of Iraqi women which accompanied the improved security in Baghdad. A small number of women in Baghdad are taking to adopting Western styles of dress, albeit clothing which is conservative by our standards. Some of the women are understandably met with aggressive flirting from men, but some are met with resistance and violence from militia men.
Also of note is that some Iraqi women have taken to adopting blonde highlights in their hair. I noticed this as a trend in Latin America as well, where higher social status is often conferred upon women who look more European. It’s also an acknowledgement of the pervasiveness of American culture, where pictures and video of American blonde women are broadcast even to the most remote corners of the world, forcing women, even in those countries, to feel like they need to follow suit.