Culture

Alyssa Milano’s Anti-Feminist ‘Sex Strike’

Actress Alyssa Milano at a protest against Trump administration policy in Manhattan in 2017. (Caro Allegri/Reuters)
No doubt, Milano believes that her idea here is a progressive one. She's wrong.

On Friday, actress and liberal activist Alyssa Milano used Twitter to call for women to go on a “sex strike” to protest new abortion laws.

No doubt, Milano believes that her idea here is a progressive one. The abortion laws in question are, after all, supported by Republicans, therefore any act of protest against them must in itself be liberal and progressive, right?

Wrong.

Although Milano may not realize it, her attempt at progressive activism was actually the opposite of feminist. Let me be clear: Calling for women to go on a “sex strike” isn’t “woke” or cool, it is sexist and harmful. Why? Because it promotes the antiquated narrative that women have sex only as a concession or gift to men, not because they enjoy sex for its own sake. This is not feminist; it’s patriarchal.

All too often, we women grow up hearing things that suggest it is somehow wrong or bad for us to want sex. I remember a friend in college telling me that her mom had taught her that “it’s the man’s job to want it; it’s the women’s job to say no.” These kind of colloquialisms can stick with a woman for a lifetime, making her feel dirty or wrong for wanting to engage in normal, healthy human behavior. We’ve certainly come a long way in terms of seeing women as being equal to men, but we are unfortunately still in a place where women who enjoy sex a lot are called “sluts,” while the same kind of desires and behaviors are not only accepted, but also celebrated, when we’re talking about men. It’s stupid, it’s unfair, and Milano is not helping.

If Milano is really as concerned about women’s “bodily autonomy” as she claims to be, then maybe she should start by not telling other women what to do with theirs. I mean, seriously — the irony is so obvious that I can’t believe that she still doesn’t see it and that she actually continues to defend her awful idea.

Thankfully, we live in a country where we all have a right to peacefully protest — and any woman who has an issue with the new abortion laws should certainly feel free to do so, and yes, even to call on other women to do the same. The truth is, though, demanding that women surrender their sexuality when we’re still fighting to have that same sexuality be accepted is about as stupid as it gets.

I know that Milano sees herself as some kind of left-wing hero, but she missed the mark here. Her idea treats female sexuality not as something to be accepted and celebrated in itself, but as a cheap bargaining chip, as something that women only do begrudgingly to please or get something out of men. Suggesting, as she does, that you’re an inferior feminist if you decide to have sex is no different from the typical, outdated Puritanical shaming that suggests you’re an inferior woman if you decide to have sex. Both, after all, suggest that what a woman decides to do with her body sexually says something about her as a person — and that’s not “bodily autonomy,” it’s the opposite.

The truth is, the only thing we should be telling women about their sexuality is — to paraphrase Salt n Pepa — that it is no one else’s business, that it belongs to them and them alone. Sexual decisions should be made by each individual woman for her own damn self, without feeling any pressure from any man (or any Alyssa Milano) to make a certain decision.

So, Alyssa — I thought you were “woke” enough to realize this, but since you apparently aren’t, I’ll spell it out for you: Many women do enjoy sex for sex’s sake, they don’t just do it to please or manipulate men, there is nothing wrong with that, and shame on you for suggesting otherwise.

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