Inspired by Spike Lee’s upcoming satire “Chi-Raq” – a film that’s set against the backdrop of Chicago’s gun violence, and is a modern spin on the Greek comedy “Lysistrata” – Chicago resident April Lawson became a viral sensation this week when she launched a petition calling for a sex ban in order help stop black-on-black violence in the city – a city that has seen more than 2,600 shootings victims this year, according to Chicago Tribune stats.
For the uninitiated, the original “Lysistrata,” the women of Greece refuse to have sex with their husbands, all in an effort to bring an end to the Peloponnesian War, via the signing of a peace treaty. In Spike’s film, the story centers on a woman’s quest to end gang warfare in Chicago, employing similar methods as used by Lysistrata; i.e. no sex for the brothas who are in the middle of the gang war, until the violence ends.
April Lawson told ABC Chicago that she got the idea after seeing the trailer for Spike Lee’s “Chi-Raq,” which opens in theaters December 4. Lawson said she found it very inspirational, despite all the controversy the film has been at the center of – notably criticism from Chicago natives, challenging Spike’s *outsider* objectives, as well as the use of the derogatory “Chi-Raq” (a portmanteau of “Chicago” and “Iraq”) as the film’s title. Lawson has launched a Change.org petition calling for other Chicago women to be inspired by Spike’s film, and take a vow of abstinence art as she has sworn to do, until the violence ends, also via a peace treaty.
The petition states: “In a patriarchal society, a problem will not be addressed until it directly affects men. Abstinence has been used as a means of nonviolent protesting throughout history. Sex strikes are forms of resistance often used to meet political, social or economic goals […] No, Chicago men. I’m done marching. I’m fed up with chanting catchy slogans like, “Black lives matter.” My silent protest to fight this battle is by keeping my panties up and my skirt down, one day at a time. My legs are closed to you. IT’S GAME TIME. I’m bringing on some real life Lysistrata in Chicago, and I’m hoping to enroll thousands of other single and married women in this city before the end of this bloody week […] Until an official treaty is signed and an actionable plan is in place by all black men who live in this city, I take a vow of celibacy. I vow to refuse sex to any man I’m dating, engaged to or married to until the perpetrators of these heinous crimes are brought to justice. I vow to keep my affections for men vocal, spirit filled and non-sexual until all children on the south side are safe to play outside their doors. I vow to stay celibate until black men organize and create a strategy to keep the peace in our neighborhoods. All men must take responsibility to take back their communities and behave as global citizens who patrol their own streets until every block in every neighborhood can all breathe again in ease. Until ALL men in every neighborhood take a solemn oath that they will stay proactive instead of passive I will remain vigilant to the cause. GENTLEMEN, THE CANDY STORE IS OFFICIALLY CLOSED. WE ARE ON STRIKE. PANTIES UP. SKIRTS DOWN. Let the lockdown begin…”
Read the full petition here: https://www.change.org/p/april-lawson-sex-strike-in-chicago-no-justice-no-cootchie.
Spike Lee is aware of Lawson’s “lockdown,” telling New York Daily News today: “I think that would definitely work on campus of universities that have been plagued by date rape and sexual harassment… Chicago, I don’t know… But more power to her.”
More power to her indeed. But will other black women in Chicago join her in the strike? And if so, will there be enough of them for this to actually work? And how long will they be willing to strike, in the event that their protest is of little influence, and changes nothing?