Quick hit: Sex strike as a political weapon

The women of Togo have been called to withhold a sex from their husbands and partners for one week in protest to the power and policy of the current regime:

“We have many means to oblige men to understand what women want in Togo,” Ms. [Isabelle] Ameganvi, leader of the women’s wing of the coalition, told the BBC.

She said she had been inspired by a similar strike by Liberian women in 2003, who used a sex strike to campaign for peace.

Some context: Togo has been ruled by the same family for over 40 years. Recent measures by President Faure Gnassingbe, son and successor to Gnassingbe Eyadema (who ruled Togo for 38 years prior to his death in 2005)
to electoral policy, which the broad coalition of civil activists groups and believe will ensure Gnassingbe to ‘reelection’ in the upcoming October presidential election. Amegavni, inspired by the 2003 month long sex strike by Liberian women to end their civil war conflict, hopes to induce political activism to agitate change in Togo.

I can’t help but be incredibly intrigued by this campaign. In America, I wonder if we could engage in such direct political action. GOP legislators have such a vested interest in what we can and cannot do with our bodies (whole factions within the GOP with their moralizing arcane worldview about choice we can make with our bodies). Could we call for a week long sex strike to encourage men to support (even call their respective congressmen and women) to advocate for our constitutional protected right to choose? To demand exceptions be eliminated from the law? To push for the return of sex education in public schools without an abstinence-only mandate? To make HPV vaccines available to all young girls?

Some in Togo are doubtful that they can abstain for a week. The Liberian women strike was unsuccessful but drew media attention to the cause. Could a campaign like this ever work in America? Could we employ a sex strike to agitate for responsible policy for the health of women?

[photo via AP]

SYREETA MCFADDEN is a Brooklyn based writer, photographer and adjunct professor of English. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, The Guardian, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, Religion Dispatches and Storyscape Journal. She is the managing editor of the online literary magazine, Union Station, and a co-curator of Poets in Unexpected Places. You can follow her on Twitter @reetamac.

Syreeta McFadden is a contributing opinion writer for The Guardian US and an editor of Union Station Magazine.

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