Woman: I'm on a sex strike. You'll only get it once the government fix <insert issue here>
Boyfriend: Ok. I'll just have a wank instead.
Woman: I'm being serious.
Boyfriend: So am I.
We all recognise the power of the female body. We’ve been flashing breasts and arse cheeks to dupe people into doing things, buying things and listening to us for yonks.
Femen use their tits to get people talking about feminist issues, Lady Gaga prances around the X Factor stage nearly naked for publicity, advertising companies use semi-clad women to sell all manner of unrelated products: M&S insurance, Fiat cars, Gucci Envy perfume.
But women striking from sex in order to get roads fixed? This is another level of female body misuse.
Ladies in the small town of Barbacoas, south-west Colombia, have once again (they tried it two years ago) told the government that unless they properly pave the bumpy road currently restricting access to the local hospital, they’ll stop putting out. Ya rly.
They took inspiration from Aristophanes’ ancient Greek comedy Lysistrata, where the women of Greece are urged to abstain from sex with their husbands to end the Peloponnesian war. They agree. Eventually a peace treaty is signed by both sides.
But this is markedly different to the Colombian strike because the Greek men were actually participating in that war. The Colombian men are being treated as the guilty party without having done anything wrong. So how exactly are you supposed to use sex to change government legislation? Especially when, as the reported (made-up) dialogue at the beginning of this article demonstrates, men can and will sort their own todgers out rather than burst from the strain of abstinence and begin attacking the government in rage.
What the Colombian sex strike did manage to do is garner plenty of media attention, which highlighted the perils of an unsafe route to hospital. Preventing access to emergency treatment was resulting in deaths and so the government pledged to take action. But they were swayed by the international limelight – not the sexually frustrated, whimpering townsmen.
So what’s the ethos behind sex striking? It could be argued that denying yourself sex is along the same lines as hunger strike (bear with me). It's giving up something you want and need to make a point. And hunger strikes can work (as with the Suffragettes, and more recently Pussy Riot) because when you're starving yourself, people are worried that you're going to die. So it's a bold statement, and urges action. HOWEVER it will – ultimately – only affect you. Whereas not shagging drags your beau into the mix. And I can’t help but feel that if you're sex striking to make a point to the government, or anyone else outside of your relationship, your relationship’s doomed because you're using your husband/boyfriend/lover-type-thing as a political tool (literally.)
So why is it the wimminz withholding sex rather than the menz, anyway? Well, because men are unfathomably sexual beings of course, with such high sex drives that a few fornication-free months will cause enough pain and discomfort to halt battles. Oh sorry, am I getting confused between reality and a fictional comedy written over 2000 years ago? Dammit, that happens too often nowadays.
But listen. Even if we do take heed from fiction, the story ends like this: the males have such huge, painful erections that they'll agree to anything in order to get their vaginas – sorry, wives – back. Meanwhile, sex is still presented as something that women ‘give’ rather than, y’know, ‘enjoy’ and actually want to do. And so a peace treaty is agreed. Hurrah! And the men get to have sex again, and the gals have to put up with it. Hurrah! Sure, it’s more of a quick-fix agreement that will allow men to get their leg over and then wage war once again some time in the future. But hey, a fanny is for life – so why not use it all over again the next time round?
The body may be powerful – demonstrated so well by Femen, Gaga, advertising, and so on, ad infinitum – but so is the voice, music, placards, sit-ins, demonstrations, viral videos, educating the people around you via word of mouth, social media campaigns and petitions.
So this time round, I urge you to use your tongues (to talk, that is) not your tits. Sex strikes were satirised in ancient Greece for their ludicrous nature. Let’s not start reducing ourselves to orifices who put up with being penetrated after all the sexy sisterhood that came before us, and let's not unnecessarily insult our male partners. Let’s band together and shout louder, instead. Keeping your legs closed can only get you so far – and it’s a hell of a lot less fun than the alternative.