MADRID, Spain—It's been a long time since we graduated college, and what with the push to sanitize everything kids see and hear, we're not sure if English or drama courses are still teaching Aristophanes' classic play Lysistrata.
The word literally means "army-disbander," and in the play, the women of ancient Greece, headed by the activist Lysistrata, want to force their men-folk to stop fighting the seemingly interminable Peloponnesian War, and they figure the best way to do that is to withhold sex from them. The women even seize the state treasury at Acropolis to prevent the war from being further funded. In short, it's both an anti-war and a pro-female empowerment play, which is still occasionally performed since its messages are timeless.
But times change, even if people usually don't, and in Spain, since the beginning of the current Great Recession, banks have foreclosed on thousands of citizens' homes, made refinancing more difficult, and generally have been stingy about granting loans and other financial instruments.
And Spanish women have taken notice.
According to an article on DigitalJournal.com, Spain's largest trade association of "luxury escorts" have gone on strike against any of their clients who happen to be bankers. In other words, no nookie for them—until they "return to providing credits to Spanish families and also small- and medium-sized businesses."
The movement started when one of the prostitutes reportedly refused to service one of her banker-clients until he agreed to grant her a line of credit and a loan and "fulfill[ed] his responsibility to society"—and the concept spread quickly throughout the escort community.
Spain, according to the latest reports, is deeply in recession, with half of all youths unemployed, the economy shrinking at a rate of 2.7 percent, and "austerity" measures that will shortly leave the country with an expected 6.6 percent deficit. Add to that a Wall Street Journal report that "credit conditions remain tight as banks still face the legacy of a real-estate bubble" and Spanish hookers have a lot to worry about ... and protest.
"We are the only ones with a real ability to pressure the [banking] sector," a spokeswoman for the escorts' association said in late March. "We have been on strike for three days now and we don't think they can withstand much more."
Indeed; the spokeswoman reported that some of the bankers had sought to get laid by pretending to be architects or engineers, but "they don't fool anyone since it has been many years since these professionals could afford rates that start from 300 Euro [$400 U.S.] an hour," she said.
As Spain's Minister of Economy and Competitiveness sees it, however, the problem is that the escorts aren't well-enough regulated, and that's made it difficult for the government to try to force the ladies to "sell their wares" to anyone willing to pay.
"In fact, there has not even been a formal communication of the strike," he said. "The escorts are making use of their right of admission or denying entry to … well, you know. So no one can negotiate."
What a shame that America's own filles de joie can't (or won't) take a hint from their compatriots abroad; who knows how long the recession would continue if they did?