Tokyo Sex Strike

Those of you out there with a classical education will be familiar with Aristophanes’ play Lysistrata and its unique plot-device: the Lysistrata character is a sort of FEMEN warrior 2,300-years-before-the-fact, who persuades the woman of Greece to withold sex from their husbands until they agree to end the Peloponnesian War.

It’s good for a lot of laughs, and casts interesting light on the state of Athenian society in Aristophanes’ time. But surely you’d think such a trick is irrelevant in this modern age?

Time to think again, for it is quite current, and from an unlikely source.

Yes, it’s the women of Tokyo who are hot and bothered, but mostly in the political sense, and who are reaching back to Ancient Greek literature to try to push through a political objective. It’s a simple one, really: there’s a guy running in the elections for Tokyo governor tomorrow (9 February 2014) that they really don’t want to see win. He is Yoichi Masuzoe, a prominent politician in Japan since 2001 – in fact, a former government minister – and a scientist before that. Among his “scientific” observations was this one from back in 1989:

Females are not normal when they are having a period. One really cannot [when that is the case] let them make crucial decisions for the country, like for example whether to declare war or not.

Now it seems that women in Japan, or at least in Tokyo, have memories like elephants, and that long-ago comment and others like it do not go over well. And they are doing something about it, resorting to that old tactic of declaring a sex-strike for any man who dares to vote for Masuzoe, and channeling their publicity efforts through a Twitter account that already has in excess of 3,000 followers.

Alternatively, if you care to tweet your support to whatever the equivalent is in Japan to a “male chauvinist pig,” Masuzoe has a Twitter account, too. (Of course he does; like I say, there’s an election campaign going on, and it’s the year 2014 in Japan, too.)

Note he’s only following one account, probably his own or his Mom’s: Yoichi is a leader, not a follower, you see.

Unfortunately, for the riled-up women, polls show him leading in the race for Tokyo governor. He is also said to be the candidate who enjoys the support of Japanese PM Shinzo Abe. But maybe those surveys were taken before the effects of the Twitter account and the sex-strike which it urges had yet to make any impact. But Masuzoe has way more followers than his female detractors (but, again, the same we’ve-just-started effect is in play).They are up against a distinct cultural barrier in any case:

All 16 candidates in the poll are men, with many of them aged in their 60s or older.

A couple final notes: While both the Le Monde and the Japan Times pieces talk up the @NoMasuzoe Twitter account extensively, neither names it or even provides any clue about how to find it. (So you’re welcome.) Also: If you compare the language of the two articles, the French one is very close to the Japan Times one in terms of order of presented facts and even of language. (For instance, that “All 16 candidates in the poll” quote I took from the Japan Times, but it is identically present in Le Monde.) Yes, it’s all translated into French – but I believe that still could easily constitute plagiarism on the part of the Le Monde writer, who goes uncredited here.

Oh, and if you you want to click through to the original Le Monde tweet and scroll down to read the tweets in reaction, you’ll be able to learn about a dozen ways to say “You go, girls!” – mostly in French, but not exclusively.

UPDATE: Too bad, it turns out that Yoichi Masuzoe did win the Tokyo governorship, with a plurality of around 30%. That’s it, there is no run-off in the Japanese system.

The BBC News article announcing this result notes that “Turnout in Tokyo was low as the capital, like much of Japan, is enveloped in its heaviest snowfall in decades.” But we know the real reason for this low turnout: too many men/boyfriends did not dare to go to the polls at all, so that they would not have to make an account of their vote to their wives/girlfriends!

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