Monday, July 19, 2004

High Fidelity

So, today's New York Times has this article. About a gene discovered in some voles (rodents -- sounds like a weird mole) that causes the males in one species to be very monogamous, and the males in another one to be, well, males. Scientists are developing this discovery into a gene therapy, that men could undergo which would make it much more unlikely for them to commit adultery or cheat on their significant others.
My favorite line is this one: "But I'd be willing to wager that the majority could lock down the opposite sex within a month or two by agreeing among themselves to make the therapy a precondition for intercourse. "
I think the author is onto something that Aristophanes had down pat in his play Lysistrata. That is, women could rule the world if they used sex to their advantage.
Not too long ago, I heard of a religious community where the women of the town used the age-old denial of sex to help one of their own. There was a woman who was an agunah, that is, a Jewish woman whose husband refused to give her a Jewish divorce, leaving her unable to remarry. Jewish law provides some solutions on how to deal with the problem, including beating the brains out of the husband. Rarely are these solutions used.
Anyway, one of the first things done is to excommunicate the husband. Not to socialize with him, allow him into synagogue, and so on. Sadly, this too often gets ignored, and people don't like to make a fuss so they allow this husband to go about his daily business.
The women in this unnamed community were furious. Their own husbands were not enforcing the excommunication, and they weren't doing anything to help. In their minds, this was a womans' problem. So the women made it a guy's problem too. They created a sex ban. None of the wives would sleep with her husband, until the agunah was freed. And like the Trojan War in Lysistrata, the agunah was freed. The husbands, denied of sex, took their energies and beat the husband so soundly he relented and gave his wife the divorce.
Now, I'm not advocating a sex ban. Nor can I verify the above story (though I've heard it about 2 different communities).  I do advocate doing what is necessary to help agunot and mesuravot get. I'm just looking at the power of people who ban together for a common cause, where no one gives in until the cause is met! Power to the people!
And if anyone can verify the above story I'd love to hear it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love [or sex] is a battlefield? ;-)


8:02 PM  

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