Natalie Haynes: The sex strike: under-used in negotiations

The thing is...

Share
Related Topics

The thing is that the US debt negotiations would almost certainly have been resolved weeks ago if only the spouses of the negotiating parties had done the decent thing: crossed their legs and refused to think of England (or anywhere else, for that matter). In Aristophanes' comic play, Lysistrata, the women of Greece realise that their menfolk will never stop the damaging and seemingly unending Peloponnesian War, which dragged on from 431 to 404 BCE.

The women see there is no reasoning with the Athenian or Spartan men, who are intent on fighting each other to the bitter end. So the women go on a sex strike, and refuse to go any further than teasing their husbands and boyfriends till the chaps all agree to make love, not war. Since it's Aristophanes, the women are all raging nymphos, and it virtually kills them to keep to their promise, but they do, and peace breaks out all over Greece.

Considering this comic fantasy is 2,500 years old, it turns out to be surprisingly topical. In Colombia, the women of Barbacoas have foresworn all smooching till they get a new road. They spent years asking the government to build one, because their town is unreachable by car. Guerrilla attacks in the area are common, and travelling on foot isn't safe. After asking nicely, they tried hunger strikes. When that didn't work, they went on a sex strike on 22 June, to see if that will get them what they need.

They are not unique. Earlier this year, Belgium broke a record – previously held by Iraq – when it became the country which has spent the longest time without a government. To try and break the deadlock, a Belgian senator, Marleen Temmerman, suggested that the partners of those negotiating a coalition should also withhold sex until a deal was reached. Sadly, the relevant parties failed to do their duty: Belgium still lacks a proper government.

Temmerman, in turn, cited the example of Kenya in 2009, where disagreements between the President and Prime Minister looked set to derail the country. A sex strike was, apparently, called and stable government was reformed in less than a week.

So next time the US budget comes up for renewal, why don't we save time and get Michelle Obama, Paul Pelosi, and Debbie Boehner to do the decent thing? The man's name is Boehner, after all (don't even try and pretend it's pronounced "Bayner"): how could it fail?

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Coordinator

£18000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Reside...

Recruitment Genius: Plumber

£30000 - £31000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An independent boys' school sit...

Recruitment Genius: Professional Sales Trainee - B2B

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: First things first - for the av...

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

Day In a Page

Read Next
People relax near Regent's Canal in King's Cross, London  

Nature Studies: Global warming – both the phenomenon and the phrase – is back

Michael McCarthy
 

Daily catch-up: the Greeks can stay in the euro or end ‘austerity’, but not both

John Rentoul
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue