The playwright Aristophanes wrote a hit comedy called “Lysistrata.” It’s about all the women in Greece going on a sex strike until all the men agree to stop fighting the Peloponnesian wars. Frustrated husbands walk around onstage with painful erections. It’s funny stuff, if unrealistic. Such a sex strike could never really work. All the men would just rape all the women.
It’s our male specialty: lording power over the physically weaker sex.
Only in the past 20 years have world leaders even acknowledged the necessity of elevating the status of women and achieving something like gender equality. The (mostly) men at the U.N. issue action platforms that call for the end of child marriages and equal access to education. But in reality, women are still systemically and comprehensively deprived of their rights. Here we are in 2015 and according to a recent analysis more than 170 countries – that would be nearly all the countries in the United Nations – have laws and codified policies that deny females rights and protections enjoyed by their male counterparts.
Although women make up roughly half the world’s population, fewer than 20 are heads of state. Only 1 in 5 serve in their nation’s parliament. And then there are the clitoral castrations…
Since 1990, more than 50 new constitutions have been adopted worldwide. Only two of them at this late date fail to ban discrimination against women: Saudi Arabia and the The Vatican, proving Muslims and Catholics have something they can agree on. Saudi, along with Yemen, another “friend” of the United States of America, has no minimum age for marriage, which means a daughter can be traded or sold as easily as a goat. In 60 other countries, girls are legally allowed to marry at a younger age than boys, which is why girls are five times more likely to be wed before 18, and 100% more likely than teen boys to give birth.
In Mississippi, one of the United States of America, girls can marry at 15 with parental consent. Boys at 17. The USA, incidentally, is one of just seven UN member states that haven’t ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. That group includes Iran, Sudan and Somalia.
So, yes, progress being made and so forth. That’s marvelous. But when half the world’s population is paid less, given less and exploited more, maybe a comprehensive sex embargo isn’t such a bad idea.