Saturday, May 2, 2009

Lysistrata 400s BCE to Kenya 2009 CE

*X-posted on Choice Words

I know this is the THIRD blog post on essentially the same story, but I want to bring another angle to it.

When I first read this story, I actually thought about Aristophanes' play Lysistrata. It has made me think about the power of sex and the power of women when they use it.

A couple days ago I posted on my facebook status a link to this BBC article titled "Kenyan women hit men with sex ban". Basically, women's organizations in Kenya are calling on Kenyan women to deny sex to their husbands for seven days in hopes the men will resolve the disagreements between political rivals in the government. I guess this movement is really taking hold in Kenya. An update (Wife of Kenyan PM Backs Sex Ban) says that the wife of Kenya's Prime Minister supports the ban too.

After I posted the Kenya article as my status, I got several "like" comments. But I felt rather uneasy about the story. I thought it was rather sad because it showed that in some ways, women do not have any more power than they did 2400 years ago.

The play Lysistrata was set in the 5th century BCE. Lysistrata is about the role of women in bringing an end to the Peloponnesian War, a long and destructive war between Athens and Sparta and their allies from 431 to 411 BCE. The title character, an Athenian woman named Lysistrata organizes the women of Greece to withhold sex from their husbands until they end the war. The sex-strike works, the war is over, and in the end everyone has sex again.

The women of ancient Athens and contemporary Kenya have little political power. There is a saying that goes something like, "behind every powerful man is a strong woman." I suppose the sex-strike shows the power women have over their men. But I wish that the woman is the powerful one in front.

In response to Kia's question, I don't think sex should be used as political leverage because it can so easily be leveraged against women.

1 comment:

PNRJ said...

Sex as a political force has definitely been used against women, also in Africa recently in the form of politically and militarily motivated rapes.

Sex strikes seem very desperate---and also risky.