"We have looked at all issues which can bring people to talk and we have seen that sex is the answer," says Rukia Subow, chair of the Women’s Development Organization, Kenya's oldest women's group. And with that, 11 feminist organizations in Kenya banded together to withhold sex from their men for one week in an effort to stop the political squabbling threatening that nation’s fragile coalition government. The women are paying prostitutes to temporarily go celibate, and the wives of Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga have also been asked to participate.
Men in Kenya are polygamous by law, and AIDS rates are high, so there may be increased sexual activity with multiple partners. If this is true, organized sexual inactivity could influence male politicians. More likely, not all women will comply and men will have their way by intimidation if necessary. Also, seven days isn’t enough time.
Such a plan would be even less likely to work here at home.
Internet statistics about frequency of sexual activity among Americans--particularly married people-- indicate that abstaining from sex for a week would be fairly normal. This isn’t a nation of sexually hyper-active folks, especially in the over-forty ranks from which political leaders usually come.
Michelle Obama doesn’t seem like the type of woman who needs to join in such a strike. She could probably just talk Barack into submission.
Lacking a prime minister, we’d have to look to Hillary Clinton our Secretary of State as the other possibility. Hillary probably adopted the withholding-sex-from-Bill strategy long ago (not that he’s since “gone without.”)
Leaders like (use any first name here) Kennedy and Chris Dodd have always demonstrated that they could have as many women as they wanted, wherever, whenever. Across the aisle, Republicans like John McCain give the impression that their interest in sex is but a memory. In the case of conservatives such as Orrin Hatch, one wonders if they ever have had a sexual temperature beyond 98.6.
Then there is the Barney Frank contingent (exact numbers still hiding in the great congressional closet) to whom threats of sex-withholding by people of the opposite gender mean nothing.
The Trojan idea of women strapping on chastity belts toward political ends will probably fail to resurrect democracy in Kenya. It does, however, remind us that empires and political careers have historically been kicked to the curb in exchange for a moment or two of lust. (Eliott Spitzer, Gary Hart and others can, have and will write books on the subject. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s wife also went public again this week on her husband’s zipper problem.)
Power remains a great aphrodisiac and one likely to allow the endless supply of available men and women determined to sample just one more dose, whenever they can, to find each other.
- ► 2008 (17)