And so President Bush's war goes on and onwith 73 of our troops
killed in October by last Thursday.
And who knows how many Iraqis? Some estimates put the total Iraqi
dead as high as 655,000, although the Bush folks scoff at such a large number.
Should we be scoffing too? At the number? Or at the Bush folks?
And how will we know when the war's over? What's our goal?
Executing Saddam? Getting Iraqi oil under the control of U.S. oil companies
and on the way to the U.S.?
Are we still interested in finding Osama bin Laden, the presumed
architect of 9/11? Or have we lost interest in him?
Are our goals best kept as secrets? Or should we all know about them?
And if enough of us disagree with those goals, should we impeach the
President for all the unnecessary blood that's been shed? You know, the
way we impeached President Clinton for lying about his consensual
relations with That Girl?
Or does our current President's public piety get him off the hook
for doing things that others holding his office might be ostracized for?
I'm a male, and it seems to me that males are more likely than females
to tolerate our President's missteps. And I just had an epiphany. Here
We should take a lesson from a Greek comedy called "Lysistrata" by Aristophanes
that was first produced 2417 years ago. That's right: two thousand four
hundred and seventeen. It's about a war between two Greek city states,
Athens and Sparta.
And so you won't be shocked later on, let me warn you: it's also
Coincidentally in the Oct. 15 Journal-Star, on page 3E, there was a
story by Steven Dudley that explicitly talked about a small-scale sex strike
in Pereira, Colombia, by a "half-dozen Pereira women" who "decided to
withhold sex from their boyfriendsmany of whom authorities say belong to
gangsuntil they dropped their weapons and found a new way of life."
And David Broder, on page 5E of the same issue, wrote about the
increasing political clout women are having in U.S. politics.
Both pieces reminded me of "Lysistrata" as it was translated into
modern English by Charles T. Murphy.
Lysistrata is the name of the Athenian woman who, like a lot of other
women down through the ages, was offended by rulers who sent the women's
husbands off to kill and be killed in what was then modern warfare.
Her name, "Lysistrata" means "she who disbands the armies." The
armies she particularly wants disbanded are the ones from Sparta, and from
And after the Spartans and the Athenians have foughtand
killedeach other for some time, Lysistrata comes up with a wonderful plan
which she reveals to the wives of both Spartan and Athenian soldiers. After
several minutes of making bawdy sex jokes, she gives the wives her plan:
The Truth, Mainly
"My friends, if we are going to force our men to make peace, we
must do without."
"Without what?" one of the wives asks.
"Will you do it?" Lysistrata asks.
"We"ll do it," one of the women says, "if it kills us."
"Well then," Lysistrata says, "we must do without sex altogether."
That explanation results in much consternation, but finally their
desire for peace overwhelms their desire for making whoopee and they agree to
forego sex with their husbandsuntil in an amazingly short time (five
days), the warrior-husbands agree to end the war.
Which Lysistrata does with this proclamation:
"Come then, since all is fairly done, men of Sparta, lead away
your wives, and you, Athenians, take yours. Let every man stand beside his
wife, and every wife beside her man, and then, to celebrate our fortune,
let's dance. And in the future, let's take care to avoid these
And as the final stage direction puts it, "All go out singing and
Post-Lysistrata casualty figures for both sides:
Sparta: Zero deaths. Vast humiliation for maleswhich they may
have overcome by now. Immense sense of newfound power and dignity for their
Athens: Ditto, and a little more power and dignity for Lysistrata, who
had knowledge of just how little dignity males have under certain
Now tell me: Doesn't that beat to kingdom come our
incomprehensible efforts to end our present war?
So next time you get indignant about what's going on in Iraq,
think about what kind of Lysistrata remedy we might come up with.
Hey, if it worked 2417 years ago
Retired English Professor Leon Satterfield writes to salvage clarity
from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays. His e-mail