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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: union bosses mobilise to try to prevent a Labour government

John Rentoul
Yvette Cooper campaigning in London at the launch of Labour’s women’s manifesto  

I want the Labour Party to lead a revolution in family support

Yvette Cooper
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine