With that last post out of the way, I now want to point at some crucial scenes in Chiraq, the ones that exist between and within the sex that so many of us have rallied against.
About an hour and a half into the film, Lysistrata comes face to face with Ole Duke and the rest of his sex-starved posse, The Knights. With a series of shot reverse shots, Lee constructs the sequence with a level of intensity that comes with any face-off, placing the men on one end and the women on the other. As Duke voices the sentiment of the men behind him, he looks on Lysistrata with contempt, promising her pity if she and the rest of the strikers will drop the act and end the protest.
“You ain’t got no folks? You ain’t never had a Mami or Papi to school you on the female way? It takes a man to teach a heffer like you how to behave”
After Lysistrata fires back with some barbs of her own, Duke steps closer to the camera, his footfalls silent against the hardwood floor. Not to be intimidated, Lysistrata returns the favor and her steps reverberate with a force that echoes off of the walls of the armory.
Even before Lysistrata slaps Duke across the face, which causes the other men to recoil in response, Lee utilizes sound and visuals that communicate the female leader’s assumption of control over the situation. Her steps drown out those of Duke; her face fills the frame while Duke’s countenance withdraws. Then, at the peak of her monologue that charges black women as the defenders of black lives, Lysistrata drops the hammer on Duke and the Knights:”[This] is about bringing an end to this strife and giving the hood the meaning of life.” Yet, even when Duke asks her for the true meaning of life, Lysistrata responds with another question: “You don’t know, do you?” Dejected, Duke and the Knights drop their keys to the armory and the protest continues.
This tense moment speaks to the film’s concern with the current state of gender politics, specifically in inner-city communities. Lee does not wish to utilize sexual protest as a an excuse for sexualizing black bodies nor is he attempting to trivialize the reality of violence in Chicago. This scene demonstrates how the black male machismo has lost sight of life amidst materiality and possessive concerns. By dropping the keys to the armory, The Knights have effectively widened their worldview beyond sex.