Men love war because it allows them to look serious; because it is the only thing that stops women from laughing at them.

-- John Fowles

War is like love, it always finds a way.

-- Bert Brecht

It is said that all's fair in love and war, equating the two, but it seems an unfortunate equation, to say the least. The phenomenon of rape might support it, being as it is a paradoxical combination of what--in more positive circumstances--is otherwise termed "making love" and an aggressive act; an act which in itself is frequently a side-effect of war, perhaps even a method of war, certainly a method in the war between the sexes. The language of love could also support the equation between love and war; there are challenges and conquests, pushovers and knockouts, possession and surrender, capturing, yielding and taking by storm. And we shouldn't forget that Cupid does his dirty work with arrows.

On the other hand, Cupid is a myth, and language is definitely in complicity with myth. It's a vicious circle. The linguistic similarities between love and war won't change until the myths are changed.

Certain differences between love and war are not to be denied, however. The development of mutual attraction, what is generally referred to as love, is universally recognized as the subject of comedy. War, on the other hand, is a serious subject. So where does the war between the sexes leave us? For many, more wounded than walking. Of course, in dealing with battles of the sexes we cannot be dealing with tragedy, because we are beyond that. Along with God, it has been declared dead. And even if it weren't, rape is hardly glamorous enough to be the subject of tragedy; it is the act of a bully and not a hero, a physical testimony to the fear of rejection.

Once upon a time, methods used in wars between the sexes were quite different, and sometimes even gave women the upper hand. The great Irish hero Cuchulain was taught the arts of war by a woman. Queen Maeve was said to lead her armies into battle herself, and naked at that. Which was apparently a tremendous advantage tactically. At the sight of her, the men of the enemy army were unable to fight. Her army invariably won hands down -- and nether parts up, presumably.

These days, it's hard to tell who's winning and who's losing. But maybe that's half the battle.