Sex For Pleasure… or for Power?

Sex is a powerful tool. It can bring pleasure (lots and lots of pleasure), create babies, cause heartache, and even end wars? No effing way.

Aristophanes (the Greek comic playwright) introduced this idea in one of his plays, in which a woman named Lysistrata (translation: Army-disbander) comes up with a, well, attention-grabbing plan to bring an end to the Peloponnesian War: she convinces herself and all of the other Grecian ladies to withhold sex from their husbands until the men have negotiated a peace.

Thousands of years later, the women of Kenya are trying a similar tactic – they’ve gone on a seven day sex strike in an attempt to alleviate the violence that has resulted from the rivalry between Prime Minister Raila Odinga and President Mwai Kibaki (who currenty share power over the Kenyan government). Introduced by the Women’s Development Organization coalition, the strike includes the Prime Minister’s wife, Ida Odinga, many average women, a handful of prostitutes, and possibly President Kibaki’s wife.

So wait a minute – one week without sex and these men are going to forget all about their anger? Anger so potent it’s caused genocide for the past year? Wowsa! These must be some pretty HOT Kenyan females!

But if sex-strikes are such useful political weapons, why is there, one week later, still bloodshed in Kenya (and so many other African countries)?

Well maybe it’s because, while sex is a powerful tool, it’s probably best to leave it out of politics. Especially in a country where polygamy is socially acceptable, gang rape is in vogue, and the sexual exploitation of women is accepted. (Editor’s Note: Or maybe it can be attributed to the fact that sexually frustrated men are not in the mood to negotiate peace with their enemies.)

Sexual power might be all these women have, and props to them for using it to their advantage. But while you may think withholding sex can win a war (or a small battle on the homefront), I say – withhold something else. Because it seems to me that using abstinence as a threat isn’t feminist (don’t we gals want the sex too!?), or a productive political move. And let’s be honest – sex is just too damn wonderful.

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