Haitian Women Channel Aristophanes

CNN reports today that women in Haiti have barred men from food aide sites. Seems the not-so-gentle men were pushing and fighting and causing unruly scenes, and are no longer allowed to collect emergency relief rations.

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If you’ve studied the Classics, or are a freelance tech writer with too much time on your hands, perhaps you’re familiar with Lysistrata, by Greek dramatist Aristophanes. In the play, a bawdy, excessively double-entendre’d, proto-Benny Hill political comedy, women are fed up with their men’s propensity for war, which is tearing the country asunder. So, led by a loudmouth named Lysistrata, they take over the Acropolis and citadel and promise only to relinquish them once a peace accord is assured.

Lysistrata
…the women have taken the Acropolis. Athene’s Citadel is ours!…
Let’s hurry inside the Acropolis and help the others shoot the bolts.

Kleonike
Don’t you think the men will send reinforcements against us as soon as they can?

Lysistrata
So where’s the worry?
The men can’t burn their way in or frighten us out.
The gates are ours — they’re proof against fire and fear — and they open only on our conditions.

Kleonike
Yes! That’s the spirit — let’s deserve our reputations:
Up the sluts!
Way for the old impregnables!

In truth, their strategic position is not the real bargaining chip. The ladies achieve leverage through sex, and the withholding thereof until an agreement is reached. (To be sure, it’s not easy on them, either; Aristophanes’ women are as horny as they are Hellenic.)

Men in Haiti can certainly empathize to some extent with the leader of the men’s chorus in Aristophanes’ play:

I won’t be played to revise, re-do,
amend, extend, or bring to an end
my irreversible credo:
Misogyny Forever!
–The answer’s never.

[Above translation by William Arrowsmith and Douglass Parker. Sometimes the translation feels fatuously over-the-top. For a free download of the work by other translators (I assume) try Gutenberg, or EServer.]

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2 responses to “Haitian Women Channel Aristophanes

  1. Wow comparing the Haiti females to those women in Lysistrata
    wow you must be a Dalton grad!

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