Do you remember being forced to read the Aristophanes play Lysistrata in your high school Great Books class? I do. I wasn't thrilled by yet another Greek drama but ended up captivated by the story of women who swore an oath to withhold sexual activity from men in an effort to end the Peloponnesian War. Why, you may wonder, am I bringing this up now? Because it seems that a grand gesture on that scale may be in order.
You can't open a newspaper or eavesdrop on a conversation in a deli without hearing about how a bunch of men in Congress (and the Catholic or Mormon Church) are attempting to regulate women's reproductive health choices. In the state of Virginia, where I have resided for 20 years, a bill just passed both houses of the legislature forcing doctors to perform medically-unnecessary and invasive trans-vaginal sonograms on women seeking abortions. What's going on here? It's as though we woke up in the 1950s with Lucy and Desi sleeping in separate beds and clearly delineated lines between "good" girls and "bad" ones. How did we come to this and how do we return to a world where lawmakers are not declaring war on women?
Despite the buzz on Twitter and Facebook, articles and blogs, we appear to be heading toward a day where sex is once again a dirty word. And oh, the irony! I can name at least a dozen male members of Congress, past and present, who have had affairs or slept with prostitutes.And then there's Rick Santorum, surging in the polls as he runs for the office of President of the United States. A few short months ago, he said about contraceptives,
(Any grammatical errors in his quote are from the man you may someday see in the Oval Office.) He has defined "perfect" sexual union as between a man and a woman, without the need for contraceptives, and I believe he was talking to Donna Reed at the time.
It's not okay because it's a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be. They're supposed to be within marriage, they are supposed to be for purposes that are, yes, conjugal, but also unitive, but also procreative. That's the perfect way that a sexual union should happen.
So perhaps we should follow his lead and look to the past for a roadmap for our future. I have chosen Lysistrata. Withholding sexual activity is an age-old method of behavior change, pre-dating petitions and Million Mom Marches. Members of Congress are fixated on vaginas anyway -- why not make them nostalgic?
Women of America, lay down your petitions and bumper stickers. Step into a pair of comfy sweatpants and declare your intention to deny your husband or boyfriend any sexual activity until Draconian bills regulating your reproductive choices are dropped in favor of laws that create jobs and improve lives. Read a good book. Sleep in the guest room. Wear a moisturizing masque to bed. Are you with me? Women have power and apparently it's in our nether regions. Otherwise, why would so many men be sitting in Congress talking about them day after day?