Guns and Erections


Photo courtesy of Athena LeTrelle via Flickr

“Chi-Raq” director Spike Lee.

Please, Spike Lee, do not lay your guns or your erection at my feet. I do not want either.

I cannot get behind Spike Lee’s new movie, “Chi-Raq.” Only because I identify as a woman.

In the Greek comedy “Lysistrata,” women, tired of their men leaving for war, take matters into their own hands. This is where Lee pulls the inspiration for his new movie “Chi-Raq.” From a few changes that are noticeable in the trailer he’s removed all the power from the strong women and placed it squarely on their backsides.

Lee’s new movie has been the center of much controversy over the last several months. It has been written about, denounced by politicians and talked about on TV by many different people on all sides. It has even prompted a copy-cat petition and activism from a south side woman named April Lawson. Lawson’s petition on seeks to have women pledge to withhold sex to end “senseless violence.” The tag line: “No Justice? No Cootchie.”

Judging by the very thorough description written by the Chicago Reader, Lohr Galil and the trailer, Lee has pulled more inspiration from “West Side Story” than “Lysistrata.” The Purple and Orange civil war set in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood twists Lysistrata’s character into an empathetic wife type. In the play her strength came in part from her asexuality and part from her unattached nature.

In the “Chi-Raq” rendition she’s married to Nick Cannon’s boss gangster character (Chi-Raq). It seems like Lee missed the point. The point, Mr. Lee, is that without the old women storming the Acropolis, Lysistrata is just some girl who doesn’t want to put out anymore.

In the play the gathered women even ask her, “but what avail will your scheme be if the men drag us for all our kicking on to the couch? — But what if they force us?”

In other words, what if they insist? What if they rape us? All valid questions to which a naive Lysistrata responds “cling to the doorposts. — Yield then, but with a sluggish, cold indifference.”

This means resist and just don’t enjoy yourself.

All the while the women with no sexual pull are storming the Acropolis and holding the war supplies hostage in order to bring peace. In insinuating that a simple sex strike could save the world or at least Chicago, Lee has oversimplified the issues. He has also drowned out the voices of the victims by giving them a second fiddle role to strippers and Purple and Orange, rapping and dancing gang members.

I appreciate Lee holding up the mirror to Chicago and showing us that this is a real problem. This is how the world sees us Chicago. They see violent neighborhoods, black men, women and children under white sheets in the street. To that end we are not angry enough!

There has been a systematic extermination of human beings in our city for decades. However, women alone cannot save the world without also storming the Acropolis.