Alyssa Milano is catching a lot of heat for asking women to withhold sex from men as punishment
Actress and activist Alyssa Milano is calling for her followers to engage in a “sex strike” to protest anti-abortion laws, specifically Georgia’s new “heartbeat bill.” Milano shared on Twitter that she’s proposing the strike to prevent pregnancy and bodily autonomy. The reaction on social media has been swift, with a majority of people not in favor of it at all.
The bill that prompted Milano’s “sex strike” is the Georgia abortion law that, once it goes into effect, will make it illegal for medical professionals to perform abortions beyond six weeks, or when the fetal heartbeat can be detected. Because many women don’t know they’re even pregnant that early, and many more can’t get medical appointments that quickly, the so-called “heartbeat law” is effectively a statewide ban on abortions. The Georgia law follows several new state laws in Mississippi and Ohio.
Milano’s strike is in direct retaliation to anti-choice legislation, according to her Twitter explanation. “JOIN ME by not having sex until we get bodily autonomy back. I’m calling for a #SexStrike. Pass it on.”
Our reproductive rights are being erased.
Until women have legal control over our own bodies we just cannot risk pregnancy.
JOIN ME by not having sex until we get bodily autonomy back.
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) May 11, 2019
The tweet instantly garnered a ton of online attention and backlash, with many people pointing out sending such a message could do more harm than good.
Please stop feeding the narrative that women are providers and men are consumers of sex. Bribing men for equal rights with access to our bodies is not how feminism works.— feminist next door (@emrazz) May 11, 2019
A lot of people disagreed with Milano’s message based on this very idea — that women’s bodies are for men to consume, so we should stop providing them with access to our bodies.
I know this is well-meaning but the WHOLE. ENTIRE. POINT. of these horrifying laws is to punish women for daring to have and enjoy non-procreative sex.
You think people who *already* believe women have no right to their own bodies are going to respect partners who say no? https://t.co/dteI9uPq9p
— andi zeisler (@andizeisler) May 11, 2019
While Milano’s intentions here did likely mean well, the result of her words and how she chose to use her platform is what truly matters here.
The “sex strike” is baffling and regressive. Sex isn’t a tool to be wielded or withheld for political gain. Sex is for relationship entrapment, attempts at procreation, and then birthdays, the second night of vacation, or after watching a BBC costume drama.
— Bess Kalb (@bessbell) May 12, 2019
Our feminist foremothers fought for sexual liberation, which goes hand in hand with bodily autonomy. It’s up to us to protect it. Desperate times call for desperate measures. 🤷🏻♀️ #SexStrike— Maureen Shaw (@MaureenShaw) May 11, 2019
This exactly. 1. Men are not the only ones who enjoy sex. 2. “Sex strikes” reinforce the idea that our only value as women is our ability to provide gratification to men.— Hannah Dillon (@handillonmd) May 11, 2019
Living under patriarchy has already robbed me of safety, autonomy, opportunities, and trust in our institutions. Now I’m supposed to give up sex, too, and play into the fiction that it’s just a bargaining chip/transaction for women? Love you, but nope.— Kristi Coulter (@KristiCCoulter) May 11, 2019
Other people were quick to call attention to grassroots organizations that protect women’s reproductive rights — who are in need of donations to continue doing work on the ground.
Instead of doing the #sexstrike, put your money where your mouth is and cough up some dough to @AbortionFunds, which helps secure abortion care for people who need it. It's incredible but mutual aid works better than social media stunts!!!! https://t.co/jP5CAHLelc— Elizabeth King (@ekingc) May 11, 2019
If Alyssa Milano asked every one of her followers to donate a dollar to @ARC_Southeast, that would be $3.5M going to help pregnant people in Georgia.— Imani Gandy (@AngryBlackLady) May 12, 2019
That is far more useful than a handful of women not having sex for a few days until they realize the uselessness of the endeavor.
Mostly everyone was in agreement that Milano’s response to the anti-choice legislation was a bad one.
This whole "If our choices are denied, so are yours" thing frames sex as a man's choice and this whole thing makes my head hurt. This is so small minded and hetero and I feel bad for ya pic.twitter.com/0TxKaUb8ae— Pastiche Biche (@ashtray_auteur) May 12, 2019
For her part, Milano made it clear she doubles down on her stance, regardless of the criticism she’s been receiving.
Have you read these bills? That’s exactly what these bills are stating. We have the power of choice before pregnancy. I’m going to exercise that choice.— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) May 11, 2019
Like many people suggested on Twitter, perhaps our time, attention, and money should be going toward organizations who actively fight for women to continue to have power over their bodies and life choices. The National Network of Abortion Funds connects people seeking abortions nationwide with organizations that can support financial and logistical needs for the patient.
“Not being able to afford or access an abortion is not an individual problem,” the site reads. “It’s a systemic injustice. Together, we can fight back.” You can check out their donation page and send some much-deserved funding their way.
The ACLU says they will challenge the laws in court, stating that it’s in violation of Roe V. Wade.