Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Withholding Allowance?


I was just thinking about Aristophanes's play Lysistrata today.

Y'know, like ya do...heh.

Anyway, for those not familiar with this classic Greek play, the basic plot is this: Athens has been at war with Sparta for a damn long time. It's the Peloponnesian War, to be exact. The women of Athens are sick of it. They advocate for their husbands to end the war and seek a peace agreement. The husbands ignore them. The women gather together and decide on a plan of action. They barricade themselves inside the Acropolis and they deny their men sex until they agree to negotiate peace and end the war. It works.

Well, it turns out that while Lysistrata's story is fictional, there have been a few organized women's sex strikes through the ages, as well as some strikes where women stopped doing "women's work." And you know what? It often resulted in shit getting accomplished.

My favorite women's strike story is the Women's Day Off strike in Iceland in 1975, or as the Icelandic men ended up labeling it, "The Long Friday." While this article doesn't make it clear if all women withheld sex that day, I've heard it implied in other accounts. In any case, if it wasn't a sex strike, it was certainly a gender strike--they withheld a lot of their other traditionally expected roles and duties. Ninety percent of the women in the entire country participated. They also staged a repeat on its anniversary in 2005.

Anyway, it got me to musing if there is ever a good reason to withhold sex.

Let's say, for instance, all the women in South Dakota withheld until they got their abortion rights back. Or all the spouses of Congresspeople withheld until they did something about the war in Iraq. Or all the spouses of Israeli and Palestinian soldiers refused to give head until there was a peace agreement.

Could going on sex strike change the course of world events? Could something like this actually work in the modern day?

7 Comments:

Blogger Anastasia said...

I don't think a sex strike would work today simply because sex is everywhere and it's so easily attained, all it takes is one click, that's how easy it really is and although people may say 'it's not that easy', there are many places (especially online) where people just wait to have sex, no strings attached. So if women did go on strike, and it went on and on, there's this other aspect in the marketplace that enables males (or other females) to find alternatives and these alternatives are there in the everyday, late night television, even as a person may, for example, check their hotmail and see a little ad for 'LavaLife' introductions (which gives people options for no strings sex, relationships, dating).

There's also the new wave feminism of 'I'll have what she's having', so in highly populated cities, where there are more females to males, there's this competition among females. Basically there isn't enough female solidarity for it to work, regardless of the feminist debates, and so on, females are not a cohesive group and that's not to say that men are, but urban males are aware of the advantages they have when it's a 5:1 (in many huge cities) ratio of women to men.
So if a few women boycott sex, there are going to be the remaining women who'll take advantage of the situation, regardless of the issue at hand (whether abortion, environmental etc)

3/23/2006 2:03 AM  
Anonymous Tory said...

Nobody should withhold sex in a relationship even if it is to better the world. That is just wrong and is only going to lead to problems.

i dont think it would work in most places cuz they're sluts everywhere.

3/23/2006 2:39 AM  
Blogger Anastasia said...

"Or all the spouses of Israeli and Palestinian soldiers refused to give head until there was a peace agreement."

These cultures aren't sex oriented, not in the way other western nations are (the United States, for example), sex isn't a large part of their public mainstream culture. Within these cultures, the notions of cultural identity are stronger than 'sex' and each half will fight to the death for ideology, and many women within these cultures are adhered to principles that are beyond sex.

3/23/2006 9:10 AM  
Anonymous Cherrie said...

I wouldn't have sex with the assholes who are starting wars, restricting my free expression and sending our economy overseas.

So withholding it from my circle of lovers wouldn't accomplish a thing.

3/25/2006 12:20 AM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Ana: You're probably right about the solidarity thing. That's why I found the Iceclandic example so fascinating. What would it take to organize 90% of either gender to agree to partake in a protest? That is pretty incredible. Still, I guess it's also proof it *can* be done, even if it seems fairly impossible.

Also re the Israel/Palestine thing: I don't know that I necessarily agree sex isn't part of the culture--particularly in mainstream Israel. And in my opinion, even very fundamentalist cultures are very influenced by sex...just in a different way than some of the "Western" countries. Things like birkas were invented specifically because sex was on someone's mind.

Tory: "Nobody should withhold sex in a relationship even if it is to better the world."

I don't know if I agree or not. I tend to think of withhollding sex as punishing not just someone else, but myself as well, and who wants that? But--if I knew it would better the world...? Kind of a Dostoyevskian/Brothers Karamozov conundrum, that.

Cherrie: I know what you mean...but as Americans (if you are), we ARE those assholes. Even if you and I don't agree with the policies personally, they represent us in the eyes of the world. Our apathy is what keeps this moving forward. Seems to me polls are showing the majority of the people now disapprove of Bush's policies in Iraq. But are we DOING anything to force the point? So the key is to break through people's apathy. If your lover didn't get sex because of Bush, maybe he/she would be more motivated to do something so he/she could get what he/she wants back.

It's just a thought, though. I don't know that I necessarily think it would work, either. And I'm not particularly keen on giving up good sex if I have it in my life. I would need some pretty strong evidence that there were enough people involved and organized, and that it would actually make an impact.

3/26/2006 10:52 AM  
Anonymous Cherrie said...

Well, Syl, I vote my conscience, but you know about the tyranny of the majority.

I just need to keep working at it till I am in the majority again.

Then watch out.

3/28/2006 10:58 PM  
Blogger Miss Syl said...

Go, Cherrie!

3/29/2006 9:15 AM  

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