Lysistrata, Columbian women, and road paving

One of the problems with not traveling outside the US or, more particularly, not traveling outside of global cities concerns the tendency to take infrastructure for granted.

Thus, the “crossed legs” movement among the women of Barbacoas has generated more puerile snickering from journalists around the web than the issue deserves. The women are withholding sex until their village receives a paved road connection to the rest of the province’s highway network.

I have never been to Columbia–I was invited once and I had to turn down the invitation–but snickering aside, let me just be very direct:

Dirt paths in places like Columbia are f–ing miserable, mmm’kay?

So if you are of the news outlety type of person to hee-hee at the story, take a look at the story from the Gaurdian reporter, who actually gets it:

At first, the protest met with muted amusement and opposition from the town’s residents. But as the movement grew, the men’s initial resistance quickly turned to support. It easy to understand why their resolve is not faltering: the lack of a paved road means that even the cost of food is five or six times that of other regions of the country. But this isn’t just about the price of goods or convenience: there have been many deaths linked to the lack of adequate infrastructure, as ambulances get stuck in the mud trying to reach town. Judge Marybell Silva, spokesperson for the movement, said: “I personally had to see a 23-year-old pregnant woman die along with her unborn baby just because the ambulance got stuck on the road and could not reach [the capital of the region]. That’s when I knew we had to do something.”

Pavement is one of the most multimodal forms of infrastructure we’ve got. You can bike on it, walk on it, push wheelbarrows on it, and, yes, drive on it.

So while Bogota has enjoyed a great deal of attention and its former mayor became a poster boy in the western media for investing in bike and pedestrian infrastructure, this village has been isolated and its residents set at a permanent disadvantage because they can’t get some paving done.