Against the Lysistrata approach

via Amanda Hess, I see that Rock the Vote is running a campaign asking young people to pledge that they will “hold out for health care”:

“We pledge ourselves to the health and liberty of young Americans and to government for the people … and to never fucking you if you are against us,” the video announces. “We will vote against you, work against you, and once again, just in case you forgot, never ever, never ever, never ever, never ever fuck you.”

At its core, this is basically the Lysistrata approach — a reference to the Greek comedy in which women withhold sex until men negotiate peace. As Jaclyn Friedman wrote this week in a similar vein,

It’s time for drastic action. And considering we won’t have the chance to vote these fools out of office for nearly a year, we’re going to have to get creative. Possibly, a little Greek. And so I humbly submit to you the question: WWLD? What Would Lysistrata Do?

The thing is, I like sex too much to suggest a full-on sex strike. And honestly, I don’t want to perpetuate the idea that sex denial hurts men more than it hurts women, because I don’t believe that’s true. But it’s half-past time for drastic action, so here’s what I propose:

Stop having sex with partners who think your reproductive health is negotiable.

This is obiviously not a new concept. Jill at Feministe made a similar argument a few years ago. Kenyan women went on a sex strike earlier this year. And some of the presidential campaign messaging suggested women not sleep with dudes who weren’t voting for Obama.

With varying degrees of seriousness, I admit I have advised friends not to have sex with people who don’t believe they should have reproductive rights. But honestly, I think that’s a better personal strategy than a political one. As Renee wrote in response to the “Girls say YES to boys who say OBAMA” posters,

The idea that women’s bodies can and should be offered as a reward for good behaviour has been with us for centuries. It’s appearance as a campaign slogan only proves how far we need to progress as women.

Which is why, despite having some pretty strong personal beliefs about the required political views of my sexual partners, I can’t get behind any effort (tongue-in-cheek or not) to use sex as a means of widespread political leverage. Especially when it comes with bonus pro-abstinence and anti-trans messaging like the Rock the Vote campaign.

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