Lysistrata Ah, the joys of living life as a woman in Ancient Greece. Being able to walk down the street holding your head high with pride as men approach you inquiring your philosophical views of life and politics. Lady Marmalade strumming from an anonymous harp as you stroll down the corridor. Right. The poor women with their little voices suffered miserably all because Gloria Steinem wasn t born. So along came Aristophanes to throw some grease into the fire with his gender bending ideologies of Lysistrata.
When it all comes down to the main point of this comic tale, women with power equals peace and tranquility. Or does it A closer look into the story may suggest Aristophanes had some other statement to subliminally hint at. When Lysistrata decides to unite the women of three towns to come together and force their men to stop warring, she receives mixed reviews. Her simple answer for the men to cease fighting is for the women to lock their legs. A no sex agreement must be called into order for their husbands to quit quarreling. Considering this was one of the first pieces to cast women in a light of intelligence and calculated behavior, many would praise Aristophanes for putting himself out to open the door for the women's rights movement.
But an in depth look at his characters reveals that he doesn t really consider them to be any more intelligent because they are free willed and have decisions of their own; but simply just as sexual of beings any day as men. The dialogue displays the most well lit area of the women's sexuality. From conversations dwelling on vibrators, we can t even get our six-inch Ladies Comforters which we used to keep as leather rations for when all else failed. (184), to the discussion of the design patter of women's genitalia, we re at home, beautifully made up, wearing our sheerest negligees and nothing underneath, and with out our triangles carefully plucked; (185), these women are spitting images of Sarah Jessica Parker and her cohorts from HBO's Sex in the City. How loosely an interpretation from the original text this novel is remains a mystery, but the underlining message suggests that women want sex. Lots and lots of dirty, MANLY, sex.
How funny it must have been to see a live performance of this piece when it was first constructed. The pompous men of society must have thought the world was going to spin off of it's axis witnessing their wives libido's spelled out onstage. What was more shocking though, the fact that women could think for themselves and organize action, or that they needed sexual activity as much, if not more, then men. By making women in a sense men, Aristophanes was poking fun at both of the sexes. Since women didn t have many individual talents or traits, they were made into sexual fiends that were powered by their id while the men stepped into their womanly roles by following the instruction of their masters, the women. The human race as a whole is personified as nothing but sexual beings who live from one encounter to the next.
It is very interesting how ahead of his time Aristophanes was with his proclamation of war and sex. His simple formula of War = No Sex taps into the most primal of animal behaviors, fighting and mating. The power that he gave the women could only have occurred within a sexual realm. It was the weakness of the men that turned them into slobbering buffoons without the luxury of being able to copulate. Lysistrata herself was the woman from the beginning who only displayed the capability to stand up against the segregated behavior that men omitted towards women. As a whole, Lysistrata may come across on a surface level by allowing women who existed in a time where they were repressed to suddenly have some freedom, but in reality, it makes deeper claims about the human mystique and how important it is that sex in society exists.
Aristophanes obviously had a firm understanding of the human mind while opposing the thinkers of his time and their institutions of higher learning. Similar to the Smothers Brothers, Aristophanes stood his ground to create comedy and lighthearted tales that also displayed disgust towards politics.