Alyssa Milano’s #SexStrike is concerning for a lot of reasons, starting with how only women are centered in the debate. It also ignores an unfortunate reality. It is simply not an option for those in an abusive relationship.
There are many good reasons why Milano’s sex strike sparked a controversy on social media. Unfortunately, much of the discussion ignores how this choice doesn’t play out practically in the real world, and is simply not an option for those in an abusive relationship.
It also centers women in a conversation that must strive to be more inclusive. If you are concerned about topics like abortion, and intimate partner violence, move away from centering women and include others who also deserve to be part of that conversation. We must become allies not adversaries.
Apart from being grossly manipulative, this strike strikes me as naive in how power dynamics work in actual relationships. It reinforces the notion that marginalized bodies are commodities. While sex strikes have been known to work when seeking a specific goal, bartering sexual favors in exchange for recognition of equality strikes me as unattainable.
Likewise, a stance asking marginalized people to fraternize only with those of like mind ignores the reality that “woke” individuals are sometimes not much better than their counterparts. It’s easy to proclaim you are an ally. Actions always speak louder than words. Far too often someone reveals their true colors only after they have attained their goal. Once in an abusive relationship, it is incredibly difficult to get out.
Can a sex strike force someone to recognize a marginalized person’s inherent equality and humanity? Better yet, what is the cost if you are wrong?
The numbers on intimate partner violence are staggering. According to NCADV, intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime. One in four women, and one in seven men, have been victims of severe physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner.
One of five women and one in 71 men have been victims of rape at the hands of intimate partners. These are just the numbers for those who report these crimes.
According to the CDC, intimate partner homicide accounts for half of the murders committed against women. Matching statistics that included all forms of intimate partner homicide are not readily available. Collectively we must also do better in incorporating all marginalized people when gathering these statistics. The economic impact is real as well.
Violence as a byproduct of male rage isn’t limited to intimate partner relationships. The United States has the highest number of mass shootings, and 54 percent of them are tied to misogyny and intimate partner violence.
I don’t know how to change an entire culture that devalues so many but asking already marginalized people to change it by placing their bodies and lives at risk doesn’t strike me as the answer.