Alyssa Milano calls for sex strike amid restrictive abortion laws

Actress Alyssa Milano ignited social media with a tweet Friday night calling for women to join her in a sex strike to protest strict abortion bans passed by Republican-controlled legislatures. But Milano’s call wasn’t totally received with open arms, with many writing criticism like “I hate this” and saying it promoted a narrative of straight women who withhold sex as punishment to men.

The former star of “Charmed” and current cast member of “Insatiable,” which is filmed in Georgia, urged women in her tweet to stop having sex “until we get bodily autonomy back.” Her tweet came days after Georgia became the fourth state in the U.S. this year to ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as six weeks, before many women know they are pregnant.

Several production companies have decided to stop filming in Georgia, and Milano told BuzzFeed News she would not return for the third season of “Insatiable” if it doesn’t return to another state for filming.

By Saturday night, “Alyssa Milano” and “#SexStrike” were two of the top trending topics on Twitter. In October 2017, Milano ignited the conversation about #MeToo — a movement started by activist Tarana Burke a decade earlier — with Milano posting “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.”

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Milano told the Associated Press on Saturday about her #SexStrike tweet that “we need to understand how dire the situation is across the country … It’s reminding people that we have control over our own bodies and how we use them.”

She noted that women have historically withheld sex to protest or advocate for political reform. She cited how Iroquois women refused to have sex in the 1600s as a way to stop unregulated warfare. Most recently, she noted that Liberian women used a sex strike in 2003 to demand an end to a long-running civil war.

Milano received support from fans and fellow actress Bette Midler joined her in also calling for a sex strike with her own tweet. But both liberals and conservatives also lampooned her idea, with conservatives praising her for promoting abstinence and liberals saying she was pushing a false narrative that women only have sex as a favor to men.

Feminist author Jessica Valenti tweeted “I hate this” Saturday morning, adding “Also I hate the idea that not having sex is a punishment for men but not for women – I like sex! Why should I deprive myself of it?”

Playboy writer Maria Del Russo wrote “the idea of a #sexstrike just perpetuates the idea that sex is something women give and men take, creating a power imbalance where men feel like they have to coerce sex from a woman and women feel like they have to weaponize their sex lives.”

Other critics said it ignored the cases of rape and also the experiences of everyone other than straight women. Critics called for women who are concered to donate women’s organizations and pro-abortion groups.

Meanwhile, prominent conservative and Trump supporter Candance Owens tweeted “consider me a dear ally, friend and mentor on your commitment to abstinence.”

But Milano said the criticism didn’t bother her and that her tweet was having her desired effect, “which is getting people to talk about the war on women.”

She said she fears one of the laws could eventually be decided by the conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court, which Republicans hope will overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

“That is absolutely horrifying to me,” Milano said. “Anyone who is not completely and totally outraged by this and doesn’t see where this is leading, I think is not taking this threat seriously.”

Milano said people have to determine for themselves how long the sex strike should last. For her part, she hasn’t decided yet how long she will forgo sex.

“I mean I don’t know,” she said. “I sent a tweet last night I haven’t really thought much past that this morning.”

Milano tweeted Saturday night she would be writing an editorial about it.

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