The recent annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region to Russia has caused Ukrainian women to boycott a very specific “product”- sex with Russian men. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a peace treaty with the autonomous region on March 18th, which effectively reclaimed the region into Russian property.
A number of nations and organizations have criticized the annexation, calling it a breach of international law. The United States and European Union have both placed numerous economic sanctions on Russian officials connected to the annexation, which they believe will set a dangerous precedent for self-determination policy. However, the criticism did not end there.
A new anti-Russian campaign called, “Don’t Give It To A Russian,” is using one of the oldest protest tropes in the book. Many have been boycotting the use of Russian goods like Vodka and popular wooden dolls, but Ukrainian women are now refusing sex with Russian men.
Questions of the groups’ authenticity have been raised, as their Facebook page is written in Russian. However, the use of the language may be a sign of solidarity against Russia across many different ethnic groups in Ukraine. According to The Atlantic, two out of every six Ukrainians speak primarily Russian. Additionally, a vocal contributor to, “Don’t Give It To A Russian” is Katerina Venzhik, an editor at Delo.UA, a Ukrainian news source.
The new boycott of sex by the women of Ukraine against Russian men is in fact, not old at all. Last month, the women of Tokyo created a sex boycott towards any man who voted for Yoichi Masuzoe, the front running governor candidate.
The Japanese group which labeled themselves, “The association of women who will not have sex with men who vote for Yoichi Masuzoe,” began the campaign after Mr. Masuzoe made sexist remarks about women. He was quoted in a TV interview saying, “Women are not normal when they are…[on their] period. You can’t…let them make critical decisions about the country.” To the women’s dismay, Masuzoe won the election in early February.
In 2003, the coalition, “Women of Liberia Mass Action For Peace,” participated in a sex strike, which some believed could end the country’s civil war. Whether the strike itself ended the war or not, the bloodshed came to an end that same year. The plot of the film, Pray the Devil Back to Hell, centers around the Liberian women’s protest.
The tale in Ukraine seems nearly as old as time. All three strikes can be traced back to Aristophanes, the comedic playwright from ancient Athens. Of his 11 surviving plays, perhaps the most famous is Lysistrata. The plot centers around a main female character who creates a sex strike in hopes of ending the Peloponnesian War. In a comedic ending scene, where all the male diplomats have erections, they agree to sign a peace treaty.
For the real women in Liberia and the fictional ones in Lysistrata, a ban on sex was the cure to war and injustice. The Ukrainian women of, “Don’t Give It To A Russian” hope their boycott on sex will show similar results.
By Erin P. Friar