Ladies, don’t give it up for Trump
The spirit of Lysistrata lives.
Although Donald J. Trump doesn’t believe in them, we are drunkenly lurching to Nov. 8 with polls showing that the Republican presidential candidate is bleeding out of his wherevers.
Trump’s losing, and not just with the demographics whom he’s insulted — a list that includes, but is not limited to, women (by name and by gender), people with disabilities, Mexicans, Muslims, immigrants in general, the public (they “know NOTHING”) and House Speaker Paul Ryan.
OK. Maybe that last one was deserved, but Trump is hemorrhaging support from what has historically been his bedrock base — white men who are pissed off about something.
Even they are leaving the fold, while Democrat Hillary Clinton’s support has remained steady among women. In fact, early voter polls show women overwhelmingly voting, and voting for her, including in swing states North Carolina, Florida, and Georgia.
If credit must be given — and very little credit is due — Trump has forced a series of important conversations in this country about race, immigration, respect for women, and sexual assault.
Here’s where things gets even more interesting: A YouGov/Economist poll from earlier this month said that while 45 percent of married women said they were voting for Clinton, just 33 percent of their spouses knew about that vote.
Somewhere, Lysistrata, a fictional character from an ancient Greek play by Aristophanes, is smiling. In that play, the women of Athens and Sparta decide, at Lysistrata’s urging, to keep from their marital beds until their men stop fighting.
Spike Lee’s 2015 movie, “Chi-Raq,” set the action (or non-action, if you must) in Chicago.
But this kind of sexual politics is not just fiction. The Global Nonviolent Action Base, created mostly by students at Swarthmore College as part of a peace and conflict class, calls this a “Lysistratic nonaction.” It’s been done before, starting with – from the base – the Iroquois women in the 1600s, who wanted more say in tribal governance, including whether to go to war.
Imagine that. Taking one’s power through the very act that is so often used to remove it.
That same year, women from a village in southwestern Colombian used a sex strike to convince their government to repair the only road that connected their village to the outside world. The women said that not repairing the road violated their rights, in part because without, they could not travel to get proper medical care. They also said — Colombia being a mostly Roman Catholic country, where sex is mostly for procreation — that bringing children into a world of such limited opportunities was immoral. So? No sex.
They declared a huelga de piernas cruzadas – or a crossed leg strike – and were soon joined by sympathetic men, who initiated a hunger strike.
Just four months later, the federal government pledged $21 million to fix the road.
Closer to home, in 2012 in Kansas, women organized a week-long sex strike to protest Gov. Sam Brownback’s rolling back of reproductive rights. Organizers used Facebook announcements to draw attention to their campaign. The bill in question passed and Brownback signed it. Who knows? Maybe with a longer effort, Gov. Brownback would have come around.
— Juju Chang (@JujuChangABC) April 15, 2016
Please understand: I’m not necessarily proposing anything. Crawling up in other people’s bedrooms is beyond my pay grade, and besides, there are plenty of other people — entire political parties, in fact — who want to do precisely that. I’m just pointing out that there’s historical precedent – and successes – when women use what God gave them for the greater good. Is your man voting for Trump? Then it’s your move. Or not.
Campbell is a journalist, author and distinguished lecturer in journalism at the University of New Haven. She is the author of Dating Jesus: Fundamentalism, Feminism and the American Girl and the upcoming Searching for The American Dream in Frog Hollow. Her work has appeared in the Hartford Courant, Connecticut Magazine, The New Haven Register and The Guardian. Follow her @campbellsl
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