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Sex Strike: Why Ancient Greek Play Lysistrata is Trending in the US

Lysistrata sex strike
A production still from the feature film Lysistrata. Credit: JamesMacMillan,  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0/Wikipedia

The ancient Greek play, Lysistrata, became a trending topic in the US after protesters called for a sex strike in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Calls for a nationwide sex strike were gathering momentum on social media and, at one point, “abstinence” was trending on Twitter with more than 26,900 tweets as of Saturday afternoon.

Some women on social media are now planning to withhold sex from men “until abortion rights are federal law.”

“Women of America: Take the pledge. Because SCOTUS overturned Roe v. Wade, we cannot take the risk of unintended pregnancy, therefore, we will not have sex with any man — including our husbands—unless we are trying to become pregnant,” one Twitter user wrote.

Lysistrata calls on Athenian women to go on sex strike

Lysistrata, an ancient Greek comedy by Aristophanes, was originally performed in classical Athens in 411 BC.

It is a comic account of a woman’s extraordinary mission to end the Peloponnesian War between Greek city-states by denying all the men of the land any sex, which was the only thing they truly and deeply desired.

Lysistrata persuades the women of the warring cities to withhold sexual privileges from their husbands and lovers as a means of forcing the men to negotiate peace—a strategy, however, that inflames the battle between the sexes.

The play is notable for being an early exposé of sexual relations in a male-dominated society. It is significant for many reasons and still holds value in today’s society. Lysistrata is hilarious, controversial, and thought-provoking all rolled into one.

Since ancient times, Lysistrata has been performed countless times, with each version and each generation adding their own touches to it.

A combination of both farce and truth, the play provides insight into how ancient Greek society functioned and the role of women within society.

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