Women – it’s time to stop fucking around. Maybe literally.
In the ancient play, Lysistrata, the eponymous heroine persuades Grecian women to stop having sex with men until they stop the Peloponnesian War. Lysis-sisters all over Greece assemble and swear an oath to withhold sex from husbands and lovers until both sides sign a peace treaty. Spoiler alert: it didn’t work. (I’m looking at you, Nancy!) Though written a couple of millennia ago, the idea of women unifying for a cause still resonates today. Thousands of years later, women continue to get the short end of the stick; half the population is stillnot getting respect, autonomy, equal pay or equal treatment.
I’ve written about the importance of protesting and activism before. But I don’t know about you, I’m getting pretty fucking impatient. The last two decades have seen some impressive social progress. Gays can get married, star in movies and host popular mainstream talk shows and drag contests. The country voted for a wonderful black President. But women, if you thought the race was run, stop and take a look around. America can’t elect an incredibly qualified woman, even when she’s running against a famously corrupt, mind-bogglingly dishonest ignoramus. Judges make excuses for men raping comatose college students. Over 80% of women reporthaving been sexually harassed, and as many as one in five women will sexually assaulted at some point in their lives. The country of “We, the People” still just can’t let itself ratify an Equal Rights Amendment, whose frightening premise is merely that women should be treated as citizens as valid as our men.
If anyone’s on the fence, turn on the news. Our national leader runs beauty contests and sleeps around with porn stars and nude models, and somehow still manages to find time to grab women’s private parts, brag about it, and then deny it by calling them too ugly to grope if they acknowledge the behavior he described. If misogyny needed a cartoon avatar, a greasy and bumbling hulk to exemplify every caricatured characteristic, we have one – and America voted to make him our leader. The political party dominating our democratic institutions is now slithering its way to rescinding what protections and rights women do have, including taking away women’s control over their own bodies and destinies.
Wholadies, time to get in formation. We’ve hoped for change. We’ve pled for change. We’ve asked for change – in louder voices, with signs. We’ve demanded change– with knitted hats and ruder signs. Crickets.
We’ve tried MLK, I want to move up to another letter in the alphabet, X – as in Malcolm X. He said, “No one can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a man, you take it.” Well, we may not be men, but we needto stop dicking around. Malcolm X said, “Power never takes a back step — only in the name of more power.”
I’m not talking about withholding sex, and I’m not talking about violence (though I remain flexible). Women: I’m talking about leveraging the power of refusal.
What if instead of marching, we all just stayed home. What would happen if one day women just didn’t show up? What would happen if women everywhere didn’t show up for work, didn’t show up at school, pick the crops, care for the sick, take your cabs, prepare the meals, buy your products, use your services, watch your TV or click your links? If they won’t follow our logic maybe they’ll follow our money. You’d be surprised (or maybe you wouldn’t) at with what lightning speed people will come around to your way of thinking when they lose money, lose votes, lose business — lose women’s presence and participation.
Women, if we band together we DO have that power. The world needs us. Women need to strike back by going on strike. There is power in unity, power in action that goes beyond protests the oppressor can just ignore. Another Malcolm maxim tells us, “When people are being unjustly oppressed <they shouldn’t> let someone else set the rules for them by which they can come out from under that oppression.” While we wring our hands, stew in outrage and hurl invectives in disbelief while watching MSNBC by the hour, the judges are getting confirmed, the laws are being passed, and our rights and value are being trampled.
The tramplers ignored our pink hats and went right on packing the courts for years to come. Women: Serious times call for serious action. I like hashtags as much as the next person – hell, I love them – but our rage-fueled slogans urgentlyneed the real power that comes from commitment and adamant action.
#Refuse is a start – let’s follow it up by refusal that leaps off our screens and blossoms into powerfully unified and committed refusal.
Who’s with me?