Lysistratic Non-Action

Lysistratic non-action is a form of protest that originated in a play written by Aristophanes around 400 BC. The play is a comedy about women striving to bring an end to the Peloponnesian War. Lysistrata, the main character urges women to employ a weapon of withholding sex. This is the origin of the term “lysistratic non-action.”

Lysistratic non-action has been used since the beginning of time as a weapon of choice by women in relationships. The nonviolent form of protest is used by groups of women around the world to create change. The more common term for lysistratic non-action is “sex strike.”

In the modern world of global media it is often the attention garnered by a sex strike that motivates those in power to change. In Columbia, more than 300 women went on a sex strike to force local leaders to repair important roads. The successful 2011 lysistratic non-action protest led to sex strikes in the Philippines for similar reasons.

A documentary film called Pray the Devil Back to Hell, released in 2008, recounts the story of women in Liberia who successfully used lysistratic non-action to end a bloody civil war. Christian and Muslim women came together in 2003 in peaceful demonstrations while participating in lysistratic non-action. The outcome was the exile of the Liberian leader and the election of the first woman head-of-state in Africa.

Lysistratic non-action carries an inherent risk of violence from men. The definition of lysistratic non-action is the withholding of sex to achieve a goal. Men individually may seek sex elsewhere but in countries that have had success with sex strikes, options for sex outside a relationship are limited and often dangerous.

Successful lysistratic non-action works best among large groups of women who have little or no power in the social system. Lysistratic non-action protests have shown that when a group has specific demands and solutions, those in power tend to cooperate more readily.

In developed countries lysistratic non-action is an effective tool for change through social media activities. Facebook and other social networks like Twitter are vehicles for communication in which discussion and planning of non-violent protests are common. Lysistratic non-action is a tool for creating social change. Social media is a way to reach large groups of like-minded people willing to forego sex to create a social, economic, or political change.

Continue reading the 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action.

Also check out The Politics of Nonviolent Action Part One / Part Two / Part Three.

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