it’s 20 years into the peloponnesian wars. and the women are fed up. so what do they do? they storm the public funds building, seizing control of the funding necessary to continue the fighting. and they declare a sex strike. no more sex until there’s peace. at least, that’s how it goes in Aristophanes’ comedy, Lysistrata. pretty far fetched, right? not if you’re the wife or girlfriend of a gangster in Pereira, Colombia.

according to a survey, the gangsters of Pereira (home of Colombia’s highest murder rate at 97 per 100,000 residents each year [nearly double the murder rate of Washington, D.C.]) apparently enjoy sex (they list it as their favorite activity) and join gangs not for monetary gain but rather to gain status and power. and sexual attractiveness. fed up with the violence of their city, this group of two dozen plus women has decided to send the message that guns and bloodshed are not sexy. no more sex. a strict cross-legged policy. until their men agree to turn their guns in to the mayor’s office for a cash award and participate in vocational training.

weird, yes. amusing, yes. effective? who knows. in Aristophanes’ fictional world, the women’s sex strike worked. but then, they also seized the funds necessary to wage war. and they radically overstepped their social and cultural bounds as women. i simply don’t know enough about Colombian culture and society to know what, if any, chance this effort has of succeeding. but i am intrigued. mostly because i often wonder about this. not depriving men of sex. but rather, how one can involve onself personally in effecting important change in the world. change for the better–for peace in the face of violence, for co-existence in the face of brutality. and i respect these women for taking a stand, for trying to do something rather than simply sitting around bemoaning the state of their world. my question is, what can we as individuals do in the face of monolithic powers and trends of violence that seem unstoppable? is it actually possible for individuals to change the world? or is that simply a pipe dream, doomed to failure from the first?

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