Last week, Georgia governor Brian Kemp signed an abortion law that has since sparked major backlash. In response, Pro-choice advocates in Hollywood are calling for an unexpected type of protest - a nation-wide #SexStrike.
Titled the “Living Infants Fairness and Equality Act,” the new legislation would ban abortion after six weeks when the fetus’ heartbeat is typically detectable. Hollywood has spoken out against the heartbeat bill, with 50 entertainers pledging to boycott the state of Georgia before the law was passed. One unusual protest that has been proposed is the “sex strike.”
Public figures called for a boycott on sex
Actress Alyssa Milano called for women to abstain from sex in protest of the LIFE Act. Milano made headlines when she tweeted, “Our reproductive rights are being erased. Until women have legal control over our own bodies we just cannot risk pregnancy,” she said. “JOIN ME by not having sex until we get bodily autonomy back. I’m calling for a #SexStrike. Pass it on.”
In another tweet, she continued, “We can LOVE sex and fight for our bodily autonomy. There are lots of alternatives to cis men,” she wrote. “Protect your vaginas, ladies. Men in positions of power are trying to legislate them.”
Pam Keith, a former congressional candidate, also proposed a “sex boycott” in response to the heartbeat bill. “Ladies: STOP having sex w/conservative men. TOTAL COMPLETE SEX BOYCOTT,” the congresswoman tweeted. “Don’t let them anywhere near you. Give them the hand and keep it moving. Get a B.O.B. But make it a rule to run, not walk, from men who want to steal your agency over yourself & your life.”
All the wrong reasons
If we're advocating for a sex boycott as a protective measure, a way for women to guard their bodies against unwanted pregnancy, cool. However, Milano's framing comes off as manipulative. Withholding sex as a way to achieve political aims maintains the degrading idea that sex is a transaction to be used as a bargaining chip, rather than a mutual expression of love. Fellow feminists spoke out against Milano’s tweet, stating that “bribing men for equal rights with access to our bodies is not how feminism works.”
Withholding sex as a way to achieve political aims maintains the degrading idea that sex is a transaction... rather than a mutual expression of love.
#SexStrike ironically supports conservatives
While the sex strike was proposed as a protest against anti-abortion laws, it only serves to prove conservatives’ point. The pro-choice movement tends to demonize pregnancy as a burden, but it’s a natural consequence of sex. That means the only guaranteed way to avoid unwanted pregnancy is abstinence. Ultimately, a sex boycott will lead to a decrease in abortion. This unexpected movement towards chastity in Hollywood is an ironic nod to conservative values.
What would happen if American women took the #SexStrike seriously?
A widespread movement of abstinence will promote sexual responsibility. If women boycott sex, we will likely see a decrease in unwanted pregnancy, STDs, and reproductive cancers. Those who don’t abstain will have safer sex and take fewer risks with their reproductive health. Hookups and one night stands would become a thing of the past, as people begin to weigh the consequences of their sexual choices. Most importantly, both women and men will learn that sexual responsibility begins long before walking through the doors of Planned Parenthood.
If women boycott sex, we will likely see a decrease in unwanted pregnancy, STDs, and reproductive cancers.
The #SexStrike was proposed as an empowering stand against strict abortion laws. But to encourage women to use their bodies for political gain seems degrading, regardless of the historical effectiveness of sex strikes. Ironically, promoting abstinence to avoid unwanted pregnancy is a solution conservatives have been advocating for years. If women across the country participate in a sex boycott, we will see a decrease in abortion and STDs as women learn to treat their bodies with responsibility and respect.