Shadows of Sexual Frustration?

There’s some interesting musings about the root causes of terrorism at Times & Seasons, a Mormon blog I came across through John Morehead.

It has been reported that Bernard Lewis, a noted ‘Arabist’ at Princeton, recently gave a briefing to senior policy makers in Washington where he listed chastity as one of the root causes of terrorism along with poverty, U.S. hegemony and embarrassment and rage at the decline of Islamic civilisation.

Chastity? At first glance this is quite a surprise, but he observes that many of the men being drawn into terrorist factions are young and single, living in a society that places a very high value on chastity, and are just as vulnerable to sexual frustration as the rest of humanity. He contents that some Muslim men who see their situation as hopeless are being attracted to radical Islam as a way of working out frustrations, some of which are sexual.

I am wary of taking this argument at face value, however I don’t dismiss it out of hand either, for I wonder whether the Shadow could be involved here. Could such men be projecting their shadow sides on to the ‘promiscuous’ West as a way of burying their secret desires and shames within? The same way that Western men who’ve engaged in gay bashing have often been found to have anxieties about their own sexuality?

If so, then could part of the solution to terrorism involve the encouraging Muslim reformers who are prepared to  face their shadow sides to speak more of their experiences?  To actively support them in having a greater voice in global society? To nurture them in illuminating the darkness within? I’m no expert and accept I may be way off base here. But I wonder.

3 thoughts on “Shadows of Sexual Frustration?

  1. You pose some great questions, and this whole issue came up in a Ken Wilber group meeting last Spring, where one of the members was reading the book, “Boys will be Boys: Breaking the Link between Masculinity and Violence” by Myriam Miedzian. I haven’t read the book, but the review of the group member was both favorable and challenging. It was challenging because she kept falling back on the premise that biochemical forces of testosterone are causal in the dilemma of masculinity and violence, that males are driven by primal forces to either ‘fuck’ or ‘fight’. I find that argument by itself somewhat reductionist, but maybe I should put it on my list of “books to read”.


  2. So is she arguing for procreation as a solution of global conflict? Hmm. What was that 60s slogan…?
    Agree it sounds a bit reductionist but wont argue primal forces are at work.
    Interestingly, I recently heard of research which indicated male rough-housing of young boys was essential for their development into non-violent adults. It was prompted by observations that fathers and uncles naturally rumble their young sons and nephews in ways that female family members generally do not and in fact often complain about.
    The studies revealed that males who engaged in violence towards women were statistically less likely to have had a father that playfully rumbled them. It was suggested that, in rumbing with their fathers, sons learnt to control their natural testosterone fueled aggression. It seems fathers have an important role in teaching boys to know when they have gone too far and how to settle down even when they’re hyped up. In short, how to control violent urges.
    The researches, apart from affirming that fathers ARE needed in the family, also sounded a warning note about the exodus of males from jobs requiring contact with young children due to all the social anxieties about men with boys that have arisen with the pedophilia scandals. They noted that leaving male children to be reared entirely by women, with boys from broken families having no male contact even in preschool, could have reprecussions for the level of violence against women in society. Either we need more male input or women need to learn how to play rougher.
    Personally I think this is good news as it gives me the perfect rationale for tell my wife to give me space when my 2 year old son and I want to rumble on the lounge room floor, bounce of each other and shout the house down with lots of screams and squeels of laughter.
    When my wife says pipe down, I can say, no dear, I’m helping him to grow into a responsible man who knows how to treat women right!


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