The first sex strike in history, in Greece

In the year 411 BC. AD, in full Peloponnesian War which opposed the two great Greek cities, the great playwright Aristophanes premieres in athens lysestrata, a work named after its protagonist. The war had already lasted twenty years and Lysistrata, “she who dissolves or authorizes the armies”, gives voice to the complaint of the women of the two camps, Athenians, Spartans and their allied cities before The disasters of war: broken families, children killed in battle, unmarried women and girls who either cannot find a husband or marry old men. The peace it is necessary and Lysistrata finds a singular tactic to achieve it: they all suffer for an absent husband, and they do not even have the aid of a leather dildo about five inches long; if they want to force their husbands to sign peace, they must abstain from having sex with them. And so she lays out the details of the plan to the rest of the women: “If we stayed inside powdered, / and with Amorgos tuniquitas / naked we walked with the delta clean-shaven, / and the men hardened and wanted to cover us, / and we did not accept, but if we abstained, / the truces would be made quickly, I know that”.

Women express their doubts about the effectiveness of the measure since husbands could force them to maintain relationships. Lysistrata insists that their husbands will do no such thing, as they cannot have sex without the wife’s consent. Finally, the agreement is sealed by a sacrifice and an oath that Lysistrata dictates to the others in which the sexual uses are again explicitly described and to which they undertake to comply. abstinence, lovers included: “There will be no one, neither lover nor husband / who approaches me boned. / And, at home, without a bull, I will spend my life / in a saffron and well-adorned tunic, / as well as my husband will be very excited for me, / and I will never willingly obey my husband. / And, if, unwilling, he forces me violently / reluctantly, I will yield and I will not move to the rhythm / nor will I raise my Persian slippers to the ceiling / nor will I wear a lioness on a cheese grater. / If I hold this tight, I’ll drink from here, / but if I break it, the cup will fill with water!” So it was about not giving sexual satisfaction to the husband either in a passive position (raising her legs) or adopting an active role, such as a Leona (popular name for courtesans) who actively positions herself on the member of a seated man, in the same way that a cheese is pressed on a grater (for there is archaeological evidence).

Two-way comedy situations occur in comedy and the eloquent names of the protagonists contribute to this, such as Cinesias, “he who moves, shakes”, (sc. the penis) and therefore “the one who fucks”, who can no longer bear the absence of his wife Mirrina (of myrtle“myrtle”, clitoris), not only because of the absence of sex, but because of the abandonment in which the house is located, because to the sexual strike women add the abandonment of their domestic obligations. There comes a time when sexual abstinence is also very hard for women, who are about to break the oath and the protagonist even admits: “We want to fuck, to put it very briefly.” Faced with the gravity of the situation, she urges her companions to resist, and reminds us that men also suffer from this nocturnal absence.

As the despair of the Spartan enemies for the absence of sex equals that of the men of Athens, they send a herald to negotiate and he appears fully erect, resounding not only physically but also in his words: all Lacedaemon is erect (sexually), all allies erect; the women do not allow them to touch their “myrtle” until peace is signed. Once this goal is achieved, in the denouement of the comedy, Lysistrata urges the Laconians and Athenians to avoid a similar error in the future.

From the perspective of the 20th century, Lysistrata was recovered in the gender studies and in theatrical performances as a symbol of the values ​​of the pacifism, female emancipation and sexual liberation. Pero no debemos olvidar, antes de formular una interpretación ajustada a nosestros anhelos, que Aristófanes, como autor de comedias, debía wait, si quería cosechar para su obra un gran éxito, a la demande del público que asistía a la representation, un público integrado for Men’s who would laugh at this utopian situation. Of course, given the sexual tone of the comedy and the unreality of the plot, success was assured.

Lysistrata cannot therefore be considered as a criticism of Athenian warmongering, nor does it contain a pacifist allegation, incomprehensible in an Athens obstinate in continuing the armed conflict with the approval of your citizen body, ultimate beneficiary of the imperialist intervention that had brought so much economic, political and cultural prosperity to the city. Moreover, the protagonist does not want peace at all costs, but an acceptable agreement for both sides and leave the war to the proverbial Greek enemy: the Persian Empire.

We also need to remove the text from any message feminist revolutionary in defense of the emancipation of women. The author has an attitude misogynist throughout the play, and to the lust of the women, he adds the presence of ugly, indecent old women in an attitude consistent with the comic tone, the male audience attending the play, and the social and cultural conventions of the time. Moreover, this alleged freedom of action displayed by the women is part of the utopian nature of the situation, accentuates the humor of the scenes and should not mask the real situation of the women who even end up adopting masculine behavior (which generated more hilarity) and in doing so, they only reaffirm the traditional social model.

A faithful reflection of Athenian society, Lysistrata crudely exposes the situation of women, marginalized and confined to their homes; they are not allowed to speak or express their opinions and are ordered to spend their time spinning otherwise their head will hurt due to the shots has received. This isolation of women is not only denounced in words but in the dramatic action itself: Lysistrata shows her anger because women do not come to her call and Calonica explains the reasons for this absence: if one must to take care of her husband, another to put the child to bed and another to bathe him; all are held back by household chores which separate them from public duties.

But Lysistrata also teaches the Athenian citizens a lesson so that they manage the font just as women ran the house and likened female diligence in domestic chores to the transparency and efficiency with which civic affairs must be carried out: and just as poor quality fleeces were removed when carding wool, in the same way It was therefore necessary to act with those who prospered to obtain the magistracies.

However, in this comedy misogynist we can discover an indisputable feminine value: we recognize in women the conviction that they are in a situation of subordination and, although they do not intend to subvert it in any way, we verify the network woven between them, their absolute will to collaborate, the relationship of understanding and empathy between them and, in short, everything that we define today as sorority.

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