Alyssa Milano: A #sexstrike targets ‘straight, cis men [with] physical consequences’

Alyssa Milano got a lot of well-deserved flack over the weekend for calling for a sex strike in response to the anti-choice laws sweeping the US. So many people thoughtfully pointed out how this plays into the worst stereotypes about women merely tolerating sex, how it ignores the circumstances of women in coercive relationships, and how it stinks of LGBTQ erasure. Alyssa has written an oped defending her position. She opens with the dire circumstances women are facing due to these laws restricting our reproductive rights and healthcare options. Then she describes her idea for a sex strike and how she thinks it will effect change. There’s more at the source at CNN and here’s the gist:

Calling for a sex strike as a way to protest restrictions on abortion has sparked a powerful response.

Sure, it’s been a mixed reaction, but it got the country talking about the GOP’s undeniable war on women. And let’s face it, with so much going on every day in the news, sometimes we need an extreme response to get national attention…

All of these bills have the same, singular purpose: to make it up to the Supreme Court. The sponsor of Alabama’s pending abortion bill, Representative Terri Collins, openly said that the bill’s goal was to spark litigation that would force the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. Anti-choice legislators speak with alarming candor and their intentions are very clear. They want to take away all control pregnant people have over their own bodies…

We must collectively reject these restrictions on our basic human rights and dignity in every way that we can. This flood of anti-abortion legislation is completely outrageous and an equally bold response is required. And, so, we call on all people whose rights are in danger to participate in a #SexStrike.

Laws restricting abortion rights and access are a targeted attempt to erase decades of hard-fought gains for women’s autonomy. A #SexStrike is another way for people who have the potential to get pregnant to call attention to this systematic onslaught and assert the power to change our own destinies.

Lysistratic protest is a longstanding, effective and empowering method to fight for change. In the 1600s, Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) women refused to engage in sex as a way to stop unregulated warfare, and their demands were met. In 2009, activists in Kenya organized a sex strike to force an end the deteriorating relationship between the President and Prime Minister. The strike lasted seven days, and ended when the leaders finally agreed to talks. In 2011, Colombia women used a sex strike to get a dangerous 35-mile road repaired.

When utilized as part of a broader strategy of coordinated action, sex strikes can raise awareness and achieve a wide range of political objectives. This is just one tool available in the fight for reproductive justice and abortion access — we must also support the organizations and individuals working courageously on the front lines by supporting them.

A #SexStrike is a way to target straight, cisgender men so they may feel the physical consequences of our reproductive rights being systematically eliminated. This form of protest has the potential to raise the issue far beyond the usual groups engaged in debates about reproductive health. It’s a way to ignite conversation and help everyone understand the gravity of the situation and the immediate need for swift action.

Our vision is a world where people can all thrive. We want everyone to live healthy lives and have control over their sexual and reproductive choices. Join us by not having sex until we achieve full bodily autonomy for all.

[From CNN]

Of course this got attention for the cause because it’s polarizing and tone deaf. So we’re supposed to stop having sex with our liberal boyfriends and husbands to get them to join the cause? How long should this last exactly? This makes so many bad presumptions about our relationships, our roles as women and about men’s roles. The women who sleep with the a-holes who vote for and pass these laws are not going on a sex strike. It would have been nice to have read a sentence or two in Milano’s essay acknowledging our LGBTQ sisters and brothers or at least admitting that this type of action plays into the most damaging tropes about women not enjoying sex and using it as a bargaining tool. Maybe she could have talked about the reality of rape and how so many women don’t have the luxury of doing this. Instead she doubled down. It’s for an incredibly important cause, but this says so much about Alyssa’s brand of activism and feminism, how it lacks inclusivity and how she’s not open to change at all.

Also, she got help with this from another activist and yet she still didn’t acknowledge the criticism.

This video, where a woman jokingly tries to explain to her boyfriend why she’s going on a sex strike, is a spot on. If you can’t listen, she play acts describing this. “If I’m getting any kind of physical pleasure it just means that women are losing. What happens with queer women that’s not really what we’re talking about. I’m doing it for Alyssa Milano.”

Also, have you seen some of these tweets from men revealing that they’ve never slept with women who enjoyed it? They’re hilarious!



photos credit: WENN

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29 Responses to “Alyssa Milano: A #sexstrike targets ‘straight, cis men [with] physical consequences’”

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  1. Patty says:

    This is so stupid and it misses the point. I appreciate that she tries but just no.

  2. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Omg, those tweets are hysterical. Perfection.

    • elimaeby says:

      I have been retweeting them for days. I scream laughed at the guy saying hetero women don’t enthusiastically participate. I was like, my guy, does my boyfriend have some screenshots of texts from me to show you. You are just showing your lame ass. LOL

      • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

        I think I should remove the ‘bundling board’ tonight. Just for one night though. 😂

      • PlainJane says:

        @Mabs A’Mabbin OMG!! Your comment made me snort coffee laugh, and it wasn’t pretty! The bundling board! My bf and I had to research bundling boards whilst watching ‘Deadwood’, and the visual you gave me was fantastic!

        Also, I really don’t get Alyssa’s logic. Deny your man? Why would you deny yourself? Her campaign smacks of self-promotion, and does not make a whole lot of sense. If she was concerned about the anti-choice laws being enacted, there are so many other, more effective ways to make her point.

      • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

        I can’t remember where I first heard the term. Maybe it was some Amish movie a long time ago, but then Deadwood brought it up again. The whole idea is quite humerous.

    • ProfPlum says:

      Someone on Twitter called it the “Alyssastrata,” which made me howl.

    • Cali says:

      The satires and little d*ck man revelations were the best things to come out of Alyssa Milano’s ridiculousness. I appreciate her for that, but she is completely nonsensical, and WHY boycott an entire state? Are all Georgians to be held accountable and subsequently punished for a decision they did not make? What if the entire US was boycotted because of the president we didn’t all elect?

  3. broodytrudy says:

    Oof, i can sort of see what she’s saying, i guess? But in the absolute simplest form of this argument, the women who should be participating in the sex strike, which are the women whose husbands help push this bill, the anti-choice movement, and the whole narrative around this discussion, are likely largely supportive and wouldn’t participate. So we get literally nowhere. I guess it’s sort of a nice thought, but lol no.

  4. Jay says:

    Oh my god she is literally so stupid and apparently has no idea how many straight cis women support these restrictive abortion policies. Celebrities with minimal education (whether formal or self directed) need to NOT fashion themselves as activists and insert themselves into debates by saying stupid things.

    • Surly Gale says:

      at least she’s got us and many others…talking. Tho’ tone deaf to a degree, name calling is not the answer to get one’s point across. Putting someone down as “so stupid” and then basically saying she has no right to her opinion in a wide debate is still stomping on someone’s voice. We need to rise above and continue to educate, not stomp down and tell her to shut up just because she went sideways. My thoughts are often not my final opinion, but they are my thoughts, for better or for worse, I think them. She has as much right to discuss her thoughts as any other person IMO

  5. HK9 says:

    Personally I think it would be better if she just called up the local ACLU, asked if they were mounting action against this in that state and if so, donated to that cause. We need to get the law repealed, not fight over twitter. (The tweets are giving me life though)

  6. Renee says:

    The video from Eva Victor is hilarious! I am choking here in my office. Alyssa Milano is a tone deaf fool on this subject.

  7. Ann says:

    I find this kind of offensive to men. Lots of men are pro-choice. Being withholding out of protest to a loving partner that respects your rights is, whats the word? Juvenile? Not sure if that’s accurate but this doesn’t set right with me at all. She’s lumping all heterosexual cis-men together in an unfair way.

    • PlainJane says:

      I find this offensive to women AND to men. I agree completely, why would you withhold from a loving, respectful, giving partner? It’s ridiculous, and her approach is SO sexist!

      • SM says:

        I am not even sure how that would work. Does she withold sex from her partner? How not having sex in a marriage for example is going to achieve any change here? I suspect chica doesn’t get any pleasure from sex, so she just wants other women stop enjoying themselves
        Where men all surprised women may actually enjoy sex are disturbing on soooo many levels.

  8. Who ARE These People? says:

    Men should strike – and not a sex strike, a labor strike. All across the country but especially in states restricting abortion. For at least two weeks straight. And expressly saying it’s about abortion bans. Throw in gun control because of gun use in domestic violence, what the hell.

    In my dreams, right? But that would be the only way for me to know men mean it when they say they support women’s rights, when they put themselves on the line.

    Women sacrificing their own pleasure and satisfaction – damn it, haven’t we done that enough?

    • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

      I agree. It’s time for men to handcuff their hands for a month preventing self-indulgences.

  9. perplexed says:

    Well, people are talking about this….so maybe that was her ultimate aim. The law itself is pretty extreme — doesn’t it say you’ll get a potential death sentence?. She probably thought of the most extreme counter-point in terms of sexual relations to that.

  10. Texas says:

    I swear that I think she hurts the “cause” more than she helps.

  11. Veronica S. says:

    So here’s the thing.

    This is problematic on certain levels because it emphasizes the female role as sexual object in the social sphere. HOWEVER, sex strikes have historically worked in certain contexts because it does allow women to utilize their limited social power to interfere with domestic family structures. It’s a way of infiltrating and upsetting social norms through disruption of living conditions, the same way sexism inherently upsets female existence. It’s not something that would work here, I think, because the social dynamics are completely different, and the goal is decidedly more complex and abstract than, say, ending the Liberian civil war, but I do understand the mindset the produces the idea and see its function beyond just “denial of sex.”

  12. Jay (the Canadian one) says:

    How does this work exactly? The significant other of a person willing to participate in such action is likely already on board with the cause, because they’re unlikely to be together if they’re incompatible. But getting your SO on board wouldn’t change anything since they don’t have the power either. A strike should impact the decision makers, not allies, in order to be effective.

  13. Jen says:

    Doubling down on an offensive, non-well-thought out tweet? Second time she’s done it in the last few months.

    We deserve better activists/allies.

  14. Kelly says:

    At least she is doing something. It is not a perfect plan but there may never be a perfect plan, we just have to put things out there and chip away at these laws and those who support them. I’m not going to knock her for trying.

  15. Caitrin says:


    Sigh. I’m sure she means well, but Lawd.

  16. Lynne says:

    Let’s start using our voices and stop using our bodies when we want to get something done.

  17. perplexed says:

    I think the outrage at her is a little weird in the sense that it’s not like she can force anyone to go on the sex strike, just the same way you can’t force someone to go to the streets. It’s your choice. Just because she’s suggesting it doesn’t mean that people have to actually do it. It may not be the brightest idea (mainly because I don’t think you can enforce it since temptation gets the better of most people) but I also don’t think it’s the dumbest either — mainly because she can’t implement the policy. Hers is a suggestion, not an actual policy initiative. The fact that people are acting like it is a policy initiative is startling to me.

    No one has to tell her she’s great in her ideas, but I feel the outrage should be focused on the legislators. Then again, maybe her idea doesn’t offend me that much either. It’s up to you as to how you view sex (whether it’s for procreation, pleasure, or as a tool of sexual power). No one says you have to view sex exactly the way Alyssa Milano (or any religious manual) does. As for the erasure part …you do need a man to get pregnant (that’s the way the biology works). I would get mad at nature for that, not Alyssa Milano. When it comes to biology some kind of erasure will take place whether we like it or not. Also, the legislation is being made by cisgender men, so segments of the population will be erased by nature of what’s being implemented in the first place legislatively.

    Then again, maybe my standards for Alyssa Milano aren’t that high either. If Natalie Portman had talked about a sex strike, I’d probably be making fun of her because she went to….HARVARD.