Friday, August 5, 2011

Lysistratic nonaction

The Guardian reports that in Barbacoas, Colombia, women have sworn off sex until the government builds a paved road to their small town. Says Ruby Quinonez, one of the strike’s leaders, “‘We are being deprived of our most human rights and as women we can’t allow that to happen.’” Follow the link and you’ll understand why the need for a road is urgent.

The Guardian reporter seems not to know that the so-called “crossed legs” strategy is not new to Colombia. In 1997, a women’s sex strike led to a brief ceasefire among guerrillas, drug traffickers, and paramilitaries. In 2006, the girlfriends and wives of gang members in Pereira refused to have sex until their partners renounced violence.

An appropriate name for this sort of protest: Lysistratic nonaction. The term appears in a list of 198 methods of non-violent protest in Gene Sharp’s From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation (Boston: The Albert Einstein Institution, 2002).

[In Aristophanes’ comedy Lysistrata (411 BCE), Lysistrata leads the women of Greece in a sex strike to end the Peloponnesian War.]

comments: 1

Elaine said...

I can't recall when I read this play--surely not in high school, though we did read the Sophocles' Oedipus cycle in senior year--but it was hilarious. Each man, as I recall, seemed to be carrying a Spartan message staff under his cloak...

Just build the road!