Sex Strike

13 Sep

Isabelle Améganvi

The women of Togo have declared a sex strike! “We call on all women to deprive their husbands of sex for a week. For us, this is a way of pressuring all men to invest themselves in this struggle that the group ‘Let’s Save Togo’ has been leading for several weeks”

I’ve got a friend in Lome scoping out the situation and I’m dying to hear how it works. But the very concept is indicative of how women think about their personal power.

This article is in French, so here’s the spark notes translation: The strike is being organized by the female branch of the activist group “Let’s Save Togo,” which has been pressing the legislature to reform the electoral code before the upcoming elections in October and asking for the removal of president Faure Gnassingbé, who inherited the position after the death of his father in 2005.

Isabelle Améganvi (pictured above), vice president of the Alliance for Change, explained, “Women are the first victims of the devastating situation that we live here in Togo. This is why we are telling all women: one week without sex. This too is a weapon of the struggle.”

I have frequently commented on sex as a source of power for women in Benin (fyi Togo is next to Benin and they share many cultural and geographic similarities). But sex in this case is a source of power rooted in the power of a man, harkening back to the days of “Behind every great man, there’s a woman”…

Oh wait, people still say that. When are women going to stop defining their power in relation to the power of their husbands?

Running for office as a female politician in West Africa is extremely challenging, but women do it. Women are powerful business leaders, women are activists, women are in government.  This whole sex strike in Togo creates an ‘us vs. them’ gender dichotomy and it is a step in the wrong direction. The idea feels rather pre-suffrage, like, “Use your sexual powers to influence your husband’s vote!” I imagine it would be insulting to the women who have made it in politics, to imply that women’s power is in the bedroom.

On a side note, there was a mention of the strike in the Providence Journal, so kudos to the women of Togo for pulling an awesome publicity stunt!


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