Alyssa Milano’s call for women to go on a sex strike in protest over new anti-abortion legislation has sparked an outcry from many corners. On Monday, View co-host Meghan McCain, who supports measures like Georgia’s “heartbeat bill,” slammed the actress and activist for “telling women to use their bodies as a bargaining chip, [which] doesn’t feel very feminist.” Meanwhile, many women have argued that abstinence would amount to, in the words of one critic, “bribing men for equal rights with access to our bodies,” and have accused Milano of leaving out queer women. Others have simply mocked her proposal as being extreme.
But the former child star is standing her ground. In a new op-ed for CNN co-written by activist Waleisah Wilson, Milano acknowledges the controversy surrounding her sex strike, inspired by Aristophanes’s ancient Greek comedy, Lysistrata.
“Sure, it's been a mixed reaction, but it got the country talking about the GOP's undeniable war on women,” she wrote. “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.”
She goes on to outline what she calls “attempts to treat women as second-class citizens” and efforts to “take away all control pregnant people have over their own bodies.” That includes Georgia’s so-called “heartbeat bill,” which was signed last week and bans abortions in the state once a fetal heartbeat has been detected.
“We must collectively reject these restrictions on our basic human rights and dignity in every way that we can,” she continued. “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.”
She continued, “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.”
Milano cited past lysistratic protests which have succeeded in prompting change, though she also noted the importance of supporting pro-choice-rights organizations through more traditional means as well.
“#SexStrike is a way to target straight, cisgender men so they may feel the physical consequences of our reproductive rights being systematically eliminated,” she said. “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.”
She concluded, “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. It's time for a #SexStrike.”
The #SexStrike tweet has reminded people of the Republican war against women.— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) May 13, 2019
These oppressive, regressive, forced-pregnancy bills are now being discussed in a serious manner on our national news cycle.
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But the actress also caused confusion with a tweet urging her supporters to “f*** on” because “we’ve earned our right to sexual pleasure.”
“Always keeping it so classy and tasteful,” read one sarcastic response. “Also, I'm confused. How are you advocating for a #SexStrike and suggesting women #F*** On at the same time?”
“Long gone are the days of the cute innocent girl from Who’s the Boss?” another commenter wrote. “You have become a foul-mouthed immoral middle aged woman.”
“Soooo... we can screw now?” added a commenter.
“Awwww sex strike is already canceled...?” read another comment. “Man I was so excited. Dumb on my part I guess to think for a second that feminists could practice any moral behavior though. My bad. Being hopeful really was a dumb idea lol.”
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