Lysistratic nonaction

I picked Lysistratic nonaction because the name itself intrigued me. I had NO idea what this might mean; it was listed as item numbr 57 in Gene Sharp’s list of 198 nonviolent actions under the methods of social noncooperation Ostracism of Persons section.

Here is what a little bit of background research yielded:

Lysistrata was a greek play feauturing an anti-war gooddess of the same name.  She rounds up the women of the village and asks them to withhold sex from their husbands to stop the pelopennesian war. The play also explores the role of women in public policy, despite their low social status during the 4th century BC.

Therefore Lysistratic nonactions means not having  sex in order to further a claim. This is a VERY interesting tactic, as it personalizes the claims and instantly doubles the number of people who would be interested in seeing a claim resolved. This may work best with people  who are the spouses of primary decision makers, but it could also work among ordinary individuals as well. I can imagine angry letters from women writing to their congressman asking them to stop funding the war in Afghanistan so their husband would finally sleep with them again…or maybe not?

Let me share an example in which this form of nonviolent action was successful during the  civil rights movement:

“During the Civil Rights movement, male activists were often male chauvinists and treated female activists as second class citizens. At one point, several of the women from SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) and SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference) staged such a “sex strike” (they used an earthier term I won’t repeat here!) with their husbands and boyfriends until they obtained better treatment. I am told that after 10 days, all of their demands were met!”

Specifically how could this be used in a movement I know about? I try and think of a common issue in which men and women differ along gender lines. I could see it being used in the gay rights movement, especially in california. Maybe wives of policymakers could put their feet down and close their legs until their husbands or wives passed the necessary constitutional amendment. I could see that this tactic might work very well if employed and stuck to by a large body of individuals across the country. It would be extraordinarily interesting to see how a movement would market this tactic, I could imagine some pretty funny flyers and/or videos.


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