Bread and Roses (and No Sex)

Those of you who wasted your time and money at attended a liberal arts university are no doubt familiar with Aristophanes’ play

They give these things to anybody.

Lysistrata, in which the women of Greece withhold sex in an effort to pressure men into ending the Peloponnesian War.  (Full disclosure: I don’t recall if I actually ever read the play, though I did take a course on classical literature in which it was assigned.  Despite majoring in literature, I spent much of my collegiate career avoiding the coursework for my classes.  Other stuff I didn’t read: Moby Dick, Ulysses, and all of the plays of Shakespeare. I, too, was amazed to find myself at the graduation ceremony after four years.)

In a case of art imitating life, something similar is going on right now in the world: the women of Togo are staging a sex strike in an effort to end the dictatorial rule of the Gnassingbe family, which has ruled the African nation since 1967.  From an article over at the BBC’s website:

Activists say that the strike will motivate men who are not involved in the political movement to pursue its goals, which include an end to the system allowing unlimited presidential terms.

I’m not sure how this will end up for the people of Togo, but, based on personal experience,  I’m thinking it’s not going to work.  I’ve actually held several unsuccessful sex boycotts.  In fact, they were so unsuccessful my husband wasn’t even aware they were going on.  I blame my failure on the fact that I am weak willed and lack self-control.  And the hormones.  Let’s not forget about the hormones.  Also, did I mention that my husband has these devastatingly blue eyes?

You know that’s raw fish, right?

I’m usually really good at boycotting stuff.   I haven’t been inside a Wal Mart in ten years.   I stopped buying BP gas after the Deep Horizon oil spill.  I boycotted sushi because the blue fin tuna became endangered.  Ok, that one wasn’t very difficult, because I don’t like sushi.  You know, it’s raw fish.  Raw fish!

But I just can’t see myself joining a strike against sex.  It just seems, I don’t know, extreme.  Can’t we do something else?  How about we give up dessert?  I’d be on board with that.  No Sweets Until Free Elections!  (Ok, ok.   I realize I need to work on that slogan.)  Or we could hold a walk-a-thon.  We could strike a blow against despotism and lower our blood pressure!

While I don’t see myself withholding sex, I do wish the good women of Togo well, and hope their efforts are rewarded with free and fair elections.

And soon.

Royalty free stock photos including the images in this post can be found at Stock.XCHNG.


15 thoughts on “Bread and Roses (and No Sex)

  1. GreedyFrog says:

    No dessert seems just as bad as no sex. I think to show solidarity I will continue with my gym boycott (I have an excuse, at last!)


  2. sqeekchair says:

    Togo women know the strike won’t be for very long; little doubt they have combed through the self-sexual sacrifices, or use homemade “helpers” to expunge the late night desires.

    I’m single and have no boyfriend- so I am currently not getting any “action” what-so-ever. I just flaunt my dedication in the gym so I get relief that way. However, I’ve been more sex observant- it’s funny how things in everyday life can remind one of sex.


    • Karen says:

      The Togolese sex strike is only for one week (so get in on it while you can!), which just goes to show that the women in Togo aren’t completely bonkers.


    • Karen says:

      It remains to be seen if any women at all agree to it. But the call for the sex strike certainly got a lot of attention and with any luck it will put pressure on Gnassingbe to hold fair elections.


  3. Jesse says:

    A sex strike was an effective tool for engaging men in the cause of the Liberian Women’s Peace Movement a while back … in addition to their uncompromising dedication to other forms of non-violent protest of course. So it could work. That said, mine have always failed miserably (or not so miserably ;-). Of course the stakes were not nearly as high.


    • Karen says:

      Yes, the Togolese strike is inspired by the 2003 Liberian strike. In all seriousness, I’m not in favor of sex strikes. I think it feeds into a very harmful myth that sex is something women “give” (and can withdraw) and men “take” and it troubles me that a continent that has been so troubled by sexual violence against women and children seems to have one of these strikes every few years. I guess I should look at it as just is another form of non violent protest, but it seems to me to be a desperate ploy by women who feel otherwise powerless in their societies.
      Of course the cynic in me thinks that “sex strike” gets a lot more attention from the media (particularly the Western media) than, say, holding a sit in or carrying a picket sign, and that may be the Machiavellian motivation for “striking” against sex.

      Back to the funny stuff, I was originally going to write about what would rile up American women enough to go on a sex strike, but I couldn’t think of anything!


  4. mikeballenger2011 says:

    I thought I was alone in my quest vs Wal Mart…lol. Women have serious power in the bedroom no doubt, what most men don’t know is that women do not want you to ask for it…they want you to take it;) Nice/fun post


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