Friday, December 16, 2011


LYSISTRATA is based on denial of the actual status of women in ancient Greece.

The premise of Lysistrata, written in 411 BC by Aristophanes, is that Lysistrata convinces Greek women to go on a sex strike to pressure their men to end the Peloponnesian war.

This is based on the entirely wrong notion that women in ancient Greece could refuse their husbands sex. The play briefly touches on the issue:

Bah, proverbs will never warm a celibate.
But what avail will your scheme be if the men
Drag us for all our kicking on to the couch?


Cling to the doorposts.


But if they should force us?


Yield then, but with a sluggish, cold indifference.
There is no joy to them in sullen mating.
Besides we have other ways to madden them;
They cannot stand up long, and they've no delight
Unless we fit their aim with merry succour.

Yeah, OK. Before or after he beats the shit out of you? Or he could just throw her out of the house. Wives in ancient Greece were financially dependent on men.

Men have been free to force themselves on wives throughout all of recorded history up until the middle of the twentieth century. There was no recognition of marital rape. And in fact there are places in the world, right now, like Afghanistan where women are expected to marry their rapists.

And of course Greek men could also have sex with slaves, prostitutes and with each other without anybody making much of a big deal about it.

If you think LYSISTRATA is comedy gold you'll love the play MR. THOMPSON'S JIM, about an American slave who convinces other slaves to go on a work strike in order to end the War of 1812.

And as far as the premise of LYSISTRATA JONES, what the Chicago Tribune said:

Without some viable equivalent of something big to play for, "Lysistrata Jones," its amusements and imagination aside, plays very thin and contrived — albeit with thick Broadway prices — especially since the show never really explains why Lissy and her short-skirted, fun-loving posse care so much about those boys winning at hoops in the first place.