Why you should give up on American men
Lysistrata is a play authored by Aristophanes about women ending the Peloponnesian War by withholding sex from their husbands and lovers. Aristophanes was no feminist and the ancient Greek world including Sparta — regardless of what you may infer from Ubisoft — was hardly a panacea for women. This is however, one of at least two plays where Aristophanes uses the role of women in Athenian society to question and ridicule the behaviour of men.
In the play, Athenian and Spartan women make an agreement not to have sex with their men until they end the war between their two city states. The conceit is that at their absolute base, men desire only sex and will become desperate and malleable if it is withheld. Now, if it were as simple as all that, then the Peloponnesian War may have gone very differently, but the idea was that women though they could have no voice in politics and in Athens hold no property, they did have this singular power.
But let us return to the modern era. As silly as Aristophanes was intentionally trying to be — at the *ahem* climax of the play he wrote a scene where the character of Myrrhine extracts a promise form her husband Kinesias to end the war, but because she has only his word proceeds to continually delay sex with him by finding she needs to go and collect a number of things for sex and at the completion of these errands locks herself away — he did have a point. Modern American women have a few more rights than did the women of ancient Greece, but we still do not have parity or equality with American men. Also, our rights are relatively young and due in large part to the work of one Notorious RBG. But, we do have sufficient power at this point to change the world.
The Personal is Political
For American women there’s two ways of looking at this, but they’re really the same thing. For one, the only reason we were approaching equality was due to the phenomenal bravery and endless hard work of women like Ida B Wells, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Eleanor Roosevelt, Coretta Scott King, and Hillary Rodham Clinton. There are feminist men out there — Barack Obama springs to mind — but if you want something done right you have to do it yourself. Politically speaking we aren’t going to get anywhere if we wait for American men to recognize us as their equals. They simply never will, even when they acknowledge that we’ve done all the actual work.
Secondly, or primarily depending on how you look at it, we in our personal lives must demand equality. And this includes sexual and romantic equality. Years ago, I started dating a Parisian man who my grandmother referred to as, “good boy. Very good boy. Marry Ari-ka.” I think she might have preferred I find myself, “good Hungarian boy, like grandpa. See how handsome?” But I went French. And I have never looked back.
I was never terribly interested in dating until I met my partner and the reason for that is I lived most of my life in the United States where men my age (millennial men, in case you think youth shall except you), were selfish, absurd, and poor prospects for sex and romance. The moment I stepped foot outside of the United States I found notable men and finally understood my grandmother’s insistence that I marry.
Now, my grandmother went through it. She put my father in the basket of her bicycle and rode over a minefield to the relative safety of Austria. But the reason she was so insistent I find myself a man was because right next to her on that bicycle ride was my emaciated grandfather having recently escaped from political imprisonment and with his accordion in the basket of his bicycle. We talk about ride or die, but that was literally it.
American men just don’t cut it. I’m sure there are exceptions but when the chips are down most American men just don’t have the character that you deserve in a mate. And they’ll cry and stomp their little feet about it and swear to you that they’re gonna “go their own way,” but then they’ll stand around and pout for ages. Do you see men really fighting to make Congress and the Senate equal? Do you see particularly white men acknowledging the activism and political work of Black women? Do you see white men saying, “you know what, it’s TIME we had a woman in the Executive Branch,” and then seriously backing HRC or Kamala Harris?
My man would break me out of prison provided I was wrongfully detained. Would yours? I mean, my man also really wants me to run for President because I made the mistake of telling him the White House has a tennis court and that he can go golfing, but that’s more of an inside joke than anything else. He also says his pet-program as First Gentleman would be “No Naked Feet,” and would be about ensuring good educational and living environments for disadvantaged youth so honestly, I’m pretty down with that.
I get angry with white women all the time because as a group we kind of suck. I mean, sure, I not only supported HRC and Harris but I was more or less in the trenches as much as I could be. But I look at my Black girlfriends and just feel shame that I just don’t seem to have their energy and fearlessness. Other white women are worse. Hell, according to some polls Trump in 2016 carried white women. That is horrifying. We knew in 2016 that Trump had raped multiple women and an adolescent girl and yet a majority of white women voted, not for a fellow white woman, but for a rapist. Well done, ladies.
The point being women need to have other women’s backs a lot more. We are human so just having a smart woman in power doesn’t make her a feminist icon and you shouldn’t just blindly support any other woman. Amy Coney Barret being a prime example. Ew. But when we have women who are fighting for us we should support them.
And female leaders need not be perfect. We can support a woman whose husband has strayed and we should support her over a man who strays. It’s not weird to hold women to the same standards as men but so often we discard would-be woman leaders because they are imperfect and human simply because an imperfect and human man is available to us.
Don’t be the “pick-me,” girl. That girl never gets picked.
American men will tell on themselves with relative frequency on twitter. According to them, terribly progressive women are just not as good as do-nothing white guys for *reasons* and also, the female orgasm is a myth. Interesting. Ladies, this is why despite being — as a lesbian friend put it — exactly 0.2% gay I genuinely believed I was into women for the better portion of my life. We deserve better than American men are currently willing to provide both in politics and in the boudoir and so it’s time we kick them to the curb.
Well, it’s past time we kick them to the curb, but hey, better late than never.
Again, clearly there’s a handful of white American men who aren’t that bad, and a few have begun to realize just how awful they are and started trying to not be awful. But ladies, respect is earned. Should we really wait around until they’ve made up for some 200 years of keeping us out of the process?
And I’m also not saying that non-American men are paragons of virtue that heterosexual women will be endlessly pleased by in all of the ways. I mean, I’m doing pretty good, but the French parliament is only some 40% female. So while France is considerably better than the US in gender relations, they’re not perfect.
We’ve got a lot of hardworking, activist, truly progressive, wonderful women who can hold all those seats that men plonk their butts down in and then don’t move again or do anything useful for years. Now, I would encourage not giving the Democratic Party a beating at the moment because we need to save democracy before we can improve it, but once we’ve done that I think it’s high time we really evaluate which law-makers are actually proper little d democrats.
We as women make up just over half the population. So if we stop letting the white supremacy that doesn’t benefit any of us and really hurts most of us divide us then we will be the deciding political power in our nation and in the world.
Sisters, let us form a shield-wall.