Actor Alyssa Milano has proposed that women go on a sex strike to protest the anti-abortion laws being passed at break neck speed in the US. With the state of Georgia passing the Foetal Heart Beat Bill, women’s reproductive rights in one of the most developed countries of the world have suffered yet another setback. However, is going on a sex strike a solution to this problem? Doesn’t reducing women’s fight for reproductive right only further objectifying them? Won’t women themselves be telling men with this strike that they only have sex to please them and their pleasure is secondary?
- Alyssa Milano has proposed that women go on sex strike to protest anti-abortion laws.
- This will once again pin women's existence to sex and reproduction.
- If the society can force women to bear pregnancy what will keep it from legitimising in the name of need for survival.
- This strike could thus backfire and only put women in harm's way.
Won’t women themselves be telling men with this strike that they only have sex to please them and their pleasure is secondary?
The conversation about sex, choice, agency and pro-life beliefs can’t be solved by going on a sex strike. On surface, it may seem like a great idea; hit men where it hurts the most. Give them a choice between handling the aftereffects of sex on women’s terms or no sex at all. Wouldn’t it project to the world how much it means to us, to have our reproductive agency that we are willing to abstain. No sex means, no pregnancies which means no need for abortion at all. This would break the wheel once and for all, giving us our agency back and bring the society down to its knees and bow to our wishes. In an ideal world, this would have worked wonders.
Our reproductive rights are being erased.— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) May 11, 2019
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.
I’m calling for a #SexStrike. Pass it on. pic.twitter.com/uOgN4FKwpg
We can LOVE sex and fight for our bodily autonomy. There are lots of alternatives to cis men.— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) May 11, 2019
Protect your vaginas, ladies. Men in positions of power are trying to legislate them. #SexStrike pic.twitter.com/yPCXuMt286
But we do not live in an ideal world. If women can be strong armed into carrying on with pregnancies against their wishes, what will prevent the society from legitimising rape in the name of need for survival? If women refuse to have sex and thus conceive, wouldn't we ourselves be reducing our existence to the most primal of the gendered duties? Thousands of unwanted pregnancies result from sexual assault, where a woman’s sexual agency was violated deliberately. Where and how does a sex strike fit in that realm? Do rapists and assaulters care if women want to have sex or not? Which is why Milano’s solution does nothing but make women more vulnerable to being forced to procreate?
The pro-life and pro-choice lobby must work together and find a solution which doesn’t come at the cost of the agency of half the world’s population.
In times when it is easier to take a radical stand, it isn’t necessary that blunt and seemingly simple solutions would be effective in solving such a complex problem. The main issue for pro-lifers is right to live, even that of an unborn child. While for women, it is as much about right to terminate a pregnancy, as to have a say in it. Of not being forced by legal hands to walk into a life time of responsibilities they aren’t mentally, emotionally or financially prepared for.
The pro-life and pro-choice lobby must work together and find a solution which doesn’t come at the cost of the agency of half the world’s population. Yes, women can carry babies, but that doesn’t mean it is fair to reduce their existence to just that. Or to force a pregnancy on them, because it violates pro-life lobby’s ethics, without asking them what challenges are discouraging them from carrying on with a pregnancy. Women need to speak up louder on how unwanted pregnancies affect their studies, career prospects, finances and well-being. How they have to bear the social stigma of being single or unwed mothers throughout their lives, all the while struggling to provide for their children. The things they are forced to give up to be mothers, because we still largely hold the womb that carries a child responsible for it.
Sex strike may get us some attention, but eventually women will suffer as well. Speaking up and making sure the world listens and acknowledges what you are saying is a better way to tackle the problem.
Picture Credit: Good Morning America
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.