One such argument is that the shortage of men in Athens necessitated the empowerment of women. Indeed, in the play there seems an overabundance of women by comparison to the males. Lauren K. Taafee points out that the conditions of Athens in 412 and 411 BCE may have actually caused such an inequality. The Sicilian expedition killed many young and middle-aged men. The male population was actually reduced by one-third in 411. Thus, Lysistrata complains about a real problem facing Athens when she complains that there is a shortage of men because of the war. The shortage of men in the city may have given the impression that there were too many females in the city, possibly a threatening force for men and most likely a real influence on Aristophanes's imagination.
Another example of sympathy towards women is Lysistrata's argument with the Commissioner. In the debate between Lysistrata and the Commissioner, Lysistrata seems the more sensible of the two and it seems reasonable for her to complain that the Athenian men do not listen to their wives when they obviously should. Lysistrata herself commands respect throughout the play from both females and males. Lysistrata is called upon by the males to forge a truce between the two sides, a show that she has gained great support and respect from the males of both camps. Unlike the other women, Lysistrata makes humorous remarks that do not make her seem stupid or frivolous like the other women. Also in the battles between the choruses, the women come out on top (so to speak). The Chorus of Women defeats the men in wit and in strength. Aristophanes seems to argue that, while the women should remain in the home, women do have a lot to say. Aristophanes communicates this explicitly as Lysistrata argues that Athens should be treated and handled as a woman would work with wool.
Nonetheless, part of the joke on women, which may explain Lysistrata's own masculinity, is the fact that there are no real women on stage. Lysistrata is played by a man and her masculine proclivities become somewhat apparent in the wool scene because, for the first time, she describes what the men of Athens should do, rather than what the women of Athens should do. In this passage, as Lysistrata completely excludes women as part of the Athenian society, it is clear that Aristophanes means not to advocate actual political power for women. Although this is the first time that Lysistrata talks explicitly about what the men should do, the entire play is really about what the men will do—what they will do to get their wives back in bed. It is assumed that after the play the women go home and return to their domestic duties. Rather, as suggested by MacDowell, Aristophanes's main theme of Lysistrata is peace. MacDowell believes that women are not the theme of the play, but merely the crafty ones who figure out how to restore peace to Athens. The goal of the play is not to empower women, but to make Sparta and Athens sign a treaty.
The terms of peace are comical themselves, however, with the ease of agreement and allusions to the various part of a naked woman. Aristophanes could not hope that his proposals for peace would be taken seriously, but rather that his connections between the domestic and political spheres would be recognized. The relationship between Athens and Sparta is not unlike the relationship between the men and women of the play and the emotions and well being of the two couplings are inextricably linked and dependent on one another. By the rules of Lysistrata, a happy home means a happy country and a peaceful civilization.