Talk about hitting below the belt.
Fed up with the inability of her bickering male peers to form a coalition government for almost nine months, a Belgian legislator has called on her fellow female citizens to stage a sex strike until the men dominating the nation’s political establishment come up with a deal. The initiative may not resolve the government crisis that has gripped Belgium since June, but it could wind up giving a new meaning to the phrase “hung parliament.”
Flemish Senator Marleen Temmerman made the proposal on Feb. 8, 241 days after Belgium’s political class began trying to cobble together a coalition government following bitterly fought general elections. After the failure of the 45,000-strong “March of Shame” rally Jan. 23 to cow her peers into effective action, Temmerman, a gynecologist by trade, now wants haggling male pols forced into civic compromise by hitting them where they, er, love. As part of a general sex strike by women intended to create pressure within public opinion for fast action, Temmerman especially called on “the spouses of all negotiators to withhold sex until a deal is reached.”
(More on TIME.com: See more about Belgium’s “March of Shame”)
Temmerman cites the 2009 precedent of Kenyan women who staged a strike of sexual activity to successfully force resolution of an escalating political crisis there—an effort reportedly joined by the wives of Kenya’s feuding President and Prime Minister. With Belgium set to break Iraq’s 149-day world record of government-less nations — and possibly facing a split of the country into mutually hostile Flemish and Walloon regions — Temmerman’s risible approach to compromise is motivated by dead-serious concerns for Belgium’s future.
Should Temmerman’s crossed-leg boycott work, she could be hailed as the country’s Just Say No savior. But given the determination of male politicians to keep the standoff going thus far, Temmerman’s campaign may well provoke an epidemic of hypothermia from cold showers before it produces a coalition government. At least the effort should assist Belgium’s effort to get people smoking less.
(More on TIME.com: See more about Belgian’s rival regions)