(AP) — Actress Alyssa Milano ignited social media with a tweet calling for women to join her in a sex strike to protest strict abortion bans passed by Republican-controlled legislatures.
The former star of “Charmed” and current cast member of “Insatiable,” which is filmed in Georgia, urged women in her Friday night tweet to stop having sex “until we get bodily autonomy back.” Her tweet came days after Georgia became the fourth state in the United States 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.
“We need to understand how dire the situation is across the country,” Milano told The Associated Press on Saturday. “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 said Iroquois women refused to have sex in the 1600s as a way to stop unregulated warfare. Most recently, Liberian women used a sex strike in 2003 to demand an end to a long-running civil war.
The first known historical example of a call for a sex strike came in Aristophanes’ satirical play “Lysistrata,” first performed in about 411 B.C. In it, the women of Athens stage a sex strike to try to force an end to the Peloponnesian War.
Milano received support from fans and fellow actress Bette Midler joined her in 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 have sex only as a favor to men.
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 newly right-wing U.S. Supreme Court, which Republicans hope will overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling 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.”