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Ukrainian women’s Lysistrata moment: Sex strike against Russian men

Ukrainian women’s Lysistrata moment: Sex strike against Russian men

On the heels of of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, while the U.S. and EU threaten sanctions against the Kremlin, Ukrainian women have adopted their own extreme measure to pique Putin’s interest: swearing off sex with Russian men.

The women behind the sex-strike campaign, called Don’t Give It to a Russian, are doing their part to contribute to a larger boycott of Russian-made goods, urging other Ukrainian ladies via their Facebook page to “fight the enemy by whatever means”—to keep their legs crossed at all costs, in this case.

The campaign reportedly borrowed its “Don’t Give It to a Russian” slogan from Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko’s 1838 verse—Kateryna: “Fall in love, O dark-browed maidens, but not with Moskaly [the Russians].” And the initiative already has its own line of T-shirts bearing the slogan and their not-so-subtle logo (two hands cupped together to resemble a vagina).

The initiative has successfully ignited a media frenzy and pissed off a few Ivans, who denounced its female organizers as prostitutes. In turn, the group has appealed to their Russian sisters on Facebook: “Our men are still at home, but yours appear to be going to war.”

Whether the movement will have any quantifiable effect on Ukraine’s strained relations with Russia remains to be seen. But this is hardly the first time women have withheld sex as a bargaining chip for peace and politics—a power play as old as Lysistrata, though rarely as successful in real life as in the ancient Greek play. Below, a recent history of abstinence demonstrations.

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