Ihsan Alwan Muhsin University of Baghdad/ College of Languages Department of English.

Gender, sexuality and power have always shared a complex and dynamic relationship. As societal and cultural values shift, so too do the connections between these forces. This is especially well-demonstrated in Aristophanes’  Lysistrata,  a Greek play originally performed  around 411  BC. The age of the play belies the progressive nature of the text,  a point  documented  in this  paper,  which  uses the  issues of gender  and sexuality explored in the play to engage in a broader discussion on how sexuality and power relations between the sexes impact one another. The discussion  is given background  with  a theoretical  investigation  of the various  scholarly  theories  on  gender,  sexuality  and  power  dynamics. Subsequently,  the discussion  focuses on the plot action and subtext of Lysistrata with an emphasis on how the female characters employed the power  of sexual  withholding  in  order  to  transpose  traditional  power structures.  As  the  discussion  will  show,  Aristophanes  was  neither feminist nor antiwar,  but his progressive exploration of both lends great insight into the openness of socio-cultural discourse in ancient Greece.


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