How is the the theme of exploitation of female sexuality in Aristophane's "Lysistrata" evident?

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amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It's been awhile since I've read this play, but I don't know if I would use the word "exploitation" when discussing the women in this play.  The women are not exploited in my opinion, since they come up with the plan themselves.  The men's war was never-ending, so the women on both sides of the conflict get together to decide to hold their own war by withholding sexual intimacy with their husbands until the war is concluded for good.  The result?  It worked.  The men quit fighting, and the women were successful in their own battle.  They used the only weapon they had...their sexuality. 

The word "exploitation" gives the impression that the women are made to do something against their will-- it has a negative connotation.  In this case, however, the women were in complete control.  They held all the cards, and their gender-driven war plan or siege if you will, succeeded.  If anything, they exploited the men's inability to live without physical pleasure while on leave from their war.