When I started working in the movie business, one of the first good scripts I read was THE POWER OF NO by Tina Andrews, (a project that has yet to be produced). It depicts an urban black community in which the women refuse to have sex with their men until the gang violence in their neighborhood stops. It is a well-written project, but what grabbed me most was the concept: could this possibly work???
On June 22 of this year, 300 women in Barbacoas, Colombia, have adopted this same tactic, only in this case they’ve done it to get the government to build them a new road. The current road, which hasn’t been maintained in over 20 years, looks more like a hiking trail. It’s so difficult to get in and out of this small Colombian town, that its citizens often die while trying to get more sophisticated medical attention in the city. Recently, a 23 year-old mother died with her infant in childbirth because the ambulance got stuck in the rocky road. So the strike has a practical resonance too: a refusal to have children until getting them medical care is possible.
The Crossed Leg Movement, as it is being called, has historical roots going as far back as ancient Greece and Aristophanes’ play Lysistrata, in which the women of Athens refuse to have sex with their men until a peace is negotiated to end the Peloponnesian War. Both the Athenians and the women of Barbacoas express that their actions are a result of the extreme frustration they feel on being left out of government decision-making, especially as they are the ones bearing the brunt of the violence and neglect respectively.
Logically, and in the play, this device seems to work. Certainly, the media attention it has brought will help the cause. And it’s also nice to see women bond together, because often we’re depicted as back-stabbing bitches. But it’s kind of crazy that the whole concept is predicated on the fact that men must want sex more than women. This paradigm, however, was even enlisted last March by Planned Parenthood, which called upon its female supporters to stop having sex with partners who don’t support funding the organization.
Obviously, I hope the women in Barbacoas get their road. A sex strike is a sign of utter desperation though. Also seems hard to enforce, though the Barbacoans haven’t mentioned a problem there. Plus, the paradigm at the very least reflects gender divisions, and at most, enforces them. I would be so pissed off if I could not get sex from my husband, and I might even leave the country rather than cooperate with his demands while he holds my orgasm hostage.