American politics took a nasty (if painfully not unprecedented) lurch toward Gilead this week, when Georgia governor Brian Kemp signed a bill into law that would, starting in 2020, ban abortions in the state if a fetal heartbeat was detected—i.e., at roughly the six-week gestation point. That’s some terrifying shit, and people have been, very understandably, expressing a wide variety of dismayed, outraged, and just-plain-scared reactions to the news.
Now, actress Alyssa Milano—a vocal proponent of the #MeToo movement, and a prominent voice calling for Hollywood to exercise its not-inconsiderable power in the state to resist the bill—has gone historical in her desire for protest, calling for a sex strike until the bill is repealed.
Sex strikes (or sex boycotts) have a long and storied history in the annals of protest; most famously, one serves as the central issue of the classic Greek play Lysistrata, in which the women of two warring cities withhold sex in order to force peace on their men. (Spike Lee applied the same template to Chicago gang warfare with his 2015 film Chi-Raq.) Outside of fiction, though, they’ve been used by people (mostly women) as a tool of protest in countries from Colombia, to Kenya, to the Philippines.
Because this is an issue discussing feminism, sex, and abortion—a real holy trinity of shit people love to get extremely loud about online—Milano’s call has been a topic of much discussion today, in a pretty serious “never read the comments” sort of sense. (Milano has apologized to trans people for failing to note in her initial tweet that “ladies” and “vaginas” aren’t necessarily synonymous.) In any case: Conversation successfully started, which was presumably the point in the first place.
Milano is a cast member on Netflix’s Insatiable, which films in Georgia; back in March, before the bill’s passage, she launched a pledge calling for productions in the state to fight back against it.