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Colombian Wives to Gangsters: Lay Down Arms or No Sex

Posted on Sep 14, 2006

They’re calling it a “strike of crossed legs,” and it’s supported by the Pereira, Colombia, mayor’s office: The wives and girlfriends of gang members will deny their partners sex until they vow to renounce violence.

The Guardian:

Gang members in one of Colombia’s most violent cities face an ultimatum: give up guns or give up sex. In what is being called a “strike of crossed legs”, supported by the Pereira mayor’s office, the wives and girlfriends of gang members have said they will not have sex with their partners until they vow to give up violence.

“We want them to know that violence is not sexy,” said Jennifer Bayer, 18, the girlfriend of a gang member. She and at least two dozen other women have said the sex strike will continue until their men hand over their weapons to authorities and sign up for vocational training offered by the mayor’s office.


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By Spinoza, September 16, 2006 at 3:13 pm Link to this comment
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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Written by Aristophanes

Setting before the house of Lysistrata
Lysistrata (Attic: Λυσιστράτη, Doric: Λυσιστράτα), Aristophanes’ anti-war comedy, written in 411 BC, has female characters, led by the eponymous Lysistrata, barricading the public funds building and withholding sex from their husbands to secure peace and end the Peloponnesian War. In doing so, Lysistrata engages the support of women from Sparta, Boeotia, and Corinth. All of them are at first aghast at the suggestion of withholding sex, but they finally agree and swear an oath to support each other. The woman from Sparta, Lampito, returns home to spread the word there.

The play also addresses the contribution that women could make to society and to policy making, but cannot because their views are ignored: All such questions are considered the purview of men only. See the exchange between Lysistrata and the Magistrate who comes to try to browbeat the women into giving up their plans.

Lysistrata touches upon the poignancy of young women left with no eligible young men to marry because of deaths in the wars: “Nay, but it isn’t the same with a man/Grey though he be when he comes from the battlefield/still if he wishes to marry he can/Brief is the spring and the flower of our womanhood/once let slip, and it comes not again/Sit as we may with our spells and our auguries/never a husband shall marry us then.”

One of the humorous aspects of the play was that the main actors portraying male characters wore phalluses.

Modern uses

The play focuses on the effects of the internecine bloodletting of the Peloponnesian War, but is now known as a broad anti-war statement since in effect all humans are of one blood. Stopping this is Lysistrata’s objective: “That ye, all of one blood, all brethren sprinkling/The selfsame altars from the selfsame laver/At Pylae, Pytho, and Olympia, ay/And many others which ‘twere long to name/That ye, Hellenes—with barbarian foes/Armed, looking on—-fight and destroy Hellenes!”

[Quotations above from the translation by Benjamin Bickley Rogers, reproduced in the Britannica Great Books series, Volume 5]

The play remains popular. For instance, it was produced in the National Theatre’s 1992/3 season transferring successfully from the South Bank to Wyndham’s Theatre.

The play was adapted into a film in 1976 by Ludo Mich, in which all the actors and actresses were naked throughout.

An updated version of the play, which was made into a Mozart like opera in the ‘60’s, was published in 1979. (See link below). The opera was to be performed at Wayne State University (Detroit) in 1968, but was cancelled when the tenor was drafted into the army 4 days before the performance. The opera director got cold feet about its anti-Vietnam war protest libretto, and used the tenor’s draft notice as an excuse to perform the opera in a small room with a new unrehearsed tenor, but no room for a normal-sized audience. That was unacceptable censorship to the composer who then withdrew the opera. News story.

In reaction to the Iraq disarmament crisis, this play was the focus of a peace protest initiative called The Lysistrata Project in which readings of the play were held on March 3, 2003 internationally.

In 2004, a 100 person version of show called Lysistrata 100 was performed in Brooklyn, New York. The new adaptation was written by Edward Einhorn and performed in a former warehouse which had been converted to a pub. The play was set at the Dionysia, much like the original may have been.

Another operatic version of the play was created by composer Mark Adamo. Adamo’s opera Lysistrata, or The Nude Goddess premiered at the Houston Grand Opera in March 2005.

Real-life parallels

A real-life version of Lysistrata took place in the town of Pereira, Colombia, in September 2006 when a group of gangsters’ wives and girlfriends declared a sex strike to force their partners to participate in a disarmament program (Daily Telegraph story).

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By Spinoza, September 16, 2006 at 3:02 pm Link to this comment
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an introduction to the play by Aristophanes

LYSISTRATA, the third and concluding play of Aristophanes’ War and Peace series, was not produced till ten years later than its predecessor, the Peace, viz. in 411 B.C. It is now the twenty-first year of the War and there seems as little prospect of peace as ever. A desperate state of things demands a desperate remedy, and the Poet proceeds to suggest a burlesque solution of the difficulty.

The women of Athens, led by Lysistrata and supported by female delegates from the other states of Hellas, determine to take matters into their own hands and force the men to stop the War. They meet in solemn conclave, and Lysistrata expounds her scheme, the rigorous application to husbands and lovers of a self-denying ordinance—“we must refrain from the male altogether.” Every wife and mistress is to refuse all sexual favours whatsoever, till the men have come to terms of peace. In cases where the women must yield ‘par force majeure,’ then it is to be with an ill grace and in such a way as to afford the minimum of gratification to their partner; they are to be passive and take no more part in the amorous game than they are absolutely obliged to. By these means Lysistrata assures them they will very soon gain their end. “If we sit indoors prettily dressed out in our best transparent silks and prettiest gewgaws, and all nicely depilated, they will be able to deny us nothing.” Such is the burden of her advice.

After no little demure, this plan of campaign is adopted, and the assembled women take a solemn oath to observe the compact faithfully. Meantime as a precautionary measure they seize the Acropolis, where the State treasure is kept; the old men of the city assault the doors, but are repulsed by “the terrible regiment” of women. Before long the device of the bold Lysistrata proves entirely effective, Peace is concluded, and the play ends with the hilarious festivities of the Athenian and Spartan plenipotentiaries in celebration of the event.

The drama has a double Chorus—of women and of old men, and much excellent fooling is got out of the fight for possession of the citadel between the two hostile bands; while the broad jokes and decidedly suggestive situations arising out of the general idea of the plot outlined above may be “better imagined than described.”

This article is reprinted from Aristophanes: The Eleven Comedies. Trans. Anonymous. London: The Athenian Society, 1922.

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By C Quil, September 16, 2006 at 8:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As an afterthought, why don’t the gangster’s wives just leave them or kick the bums out? Is there such a thing as a lovable gangster?

Where did they decide to do this? At the Colombian Gangster’s Wives Club?

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By C Quil, September 16, 2006 at 8:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Lysistrata was a comedy. I doubt very much whether war-mongering politicians could care less. They have hot-and-cold running hookers just a phonecall away from Capitol Hill, and all on the entertainment budget.

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By R. A. Earl, September 15, 2006 at 8:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“More than likely they are going to have their teeth handed to them.”

Gums are good!

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By Yeah this will work, September 15, 2006 at 2:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

In related news, Columbian prostitutes are getting ready for what is expected to be the best business season they have ever had.

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By Via, September 15, 2006 at 11:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

More than likely they are going to have their teeth handed to them.  I applaud their courage but fear for their safety.

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By Spinoza, September 15, 2006 at 9:29 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Very good idea! It is Lysistrata.

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By Druthers, September 15, 2006 at 3:54 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Lisitrata being played out in real time! If only some of our politiciens wives would follow this example.

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