Gentlemen, put away your knobkerries

Morning all,
here’s yesterday’s Sunday Times column, that means it must be Monday. Bugger.

Gentlemen, put away your knobkerries

We’re a country that knows how to strike. We’ve pretty much been on strike since we could walk. It’s just our causes that have shifted over the years. If it were an event at the Olympics, South Africa would be the Michael Phelps of striking. Which is why I was surprised to discover that we didn’t invent the idea of the sex strike.

The first time I ever heard about a sex strike was a few years ago, and it sounded so crazy I was convinced it was an urban legend. It was the story of a nation torn apart. By 2003, civil war had been raging in Liberia for fourteen years, and the women were so fed up with the fighting that they decided to get together and do something about it. Their plan was to withhold sex from their men until the fighting stopped. It worked. The men soon decided that it was more fun to make love, not war.

But according to my research, the Liberian women weren’t the first to do it (or not do it, as the case may be), the idea goes back much further than that. History tells of an anti-war play performed in ancient Greece, in which the female characters went on a sex strike. No sex, how utterly unlike ancient Greece.

This technique was also practiced in real life in ancient Nigeria, where all the women would leave the village en masse, only taking the babies they were nursing with them, until the men in the town ran out of food, beer and clean underpants and agreed to stop their brutish behaviour and behave, and then the women would come home again.

Columbian women gave it a bash too, first in 1997 and again in 2006. The Kenyans also tried it in 2009. But their sex strike only lasted a week (those Kenyans are quick) before the men dropped to their knees and begged for mercy. In this instance the Kenyan women advanced the technique and closed a clever loophole when they thought to offer to pay all the town’s prostitutes for lost earnings if they agreed to join in. You have to admit, it’s a smart plan.

I really don’t know why we’ve never thought to try it here. We might have avoided a lot of pain, suffering, hardship and international embarrassment. I’m sure Nelson Mandela wouldn’t have been kept in jail so long if all South African women had gone on a sex strike. There isn’t a man in this country who would want to go 27 hours without sex, let alone 27 years. Apartheid would have lasted all of five seconds in that situation.

Maybe we should give it a try now. Our president has five wives, that has to say something about his libido. I imagine if all of them had to close up shop, we’d have potholes and corruption fixed by Wednesday, latest.

This last week saw the latest sex strike taking place in Togo, West Africa. Where the women have agreed to abstain from sex for a week to try to urge Togolese men to convince Dictator/President Gnassingbe to resign. (They wouldn’t have been able to vote him out of Survivor either, nobody would have been able to spell his name.)

Gnassingbe’s family has been ruling Togo for over 38 years, so I wouldn’t have thought just one week without sex would be enough to unseat him, but then I may have underestimated the sex drive of your average Togolese man. Fabre, the leader of the National Alliance for Change, who is one of the men who has been calling for Gnassingbe’s resignation was reported as saying; ‘One week is too much, let’s only go for two days.’

So we can safely assume that the men in Togo haven’t been getting much rompy pompy this last week. I would imagine Togolese road rage is at an all-time high. While the men are probably struggling, it’s kind of a win-win situation for the women, it’s a great excuse not to have to put out, and do somethin
g good for their nation at the same time.

So ladies, what do we want? An end to war, no fracking, better management of our taxes, or simply to have your guy put the lid back on the toothpaste when he’s done with it? Well, you know what to do.
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