Anticlimax: the US sex strike didn’t hit the spot after all

World

Anticlimax: the US sex strike didn’t hit the spot after all

Yes, the abortion bill is bad, but really, Alyssa Milano, your idea of a bonking boycott is not the answer

Celia Walden


It’s only been 72 hours, but American men are feeling the burn.
Down on Wall Street, rows of sex-starved suits sit impassively before their screens, watching the dollar plummet.
In the White House and the Senate, politicians and congressman are wound too tight to pass any bills.
And don’t even think of going to hospital: nobody wants a pent-up, trembling surgeon – and right now in America’s operating theatres it’s just one malpractice suit after another.
Maybe this sex strike wasn’t such a good idea. Because, in case you missed it, a mating mutiny, bonking boycott and relations revolt is what American women have been signing up to in their droves over the weekend.
Goaded on by Charmed star Alyssa Milano, who tweeted the #sexstrike idea on Friday night, in response to the passing of the “heartbeat bill” in Georgia – which makes it illegal to have an abortion after a heartbeat has been detected in the womb – thousands of women across the country have enlisted their support, alongside a handful of Hollywood actresses.
“Our reproductive rights are being erased,” insists Milano. “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.”
Even if feminist jargon such as “bodily autonomy” weren’t enough of a mass libido-killer to make any strike redundant, I’d be confused.
Are we all suddenly back in 1952 and – dressed in sheer lemon-yellow babydolls – withholding sex from our naughty husbands?
Isn’t one of the unique selling points of “empowered modern woman” her boundless, unashamed and quasi-masculine sex drive?
As for commodifying women as “providers of sex”, well, that might just be one of the most sexist and debasing concepts currently filling the Twittersphere.
Yes, the Georgia heartbeat bill – one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the US – is a blow to women’s rights.
Since the heartbeat can be detected at about six weeks, which is before many women realise they are pregnant, this will end up being the “forced pregnancy bill” that reproductive justice groups feared.
But I doubt turning 49% of America into resentful incels is the answer, and as genuine as I’m sure her outrage is, Alyssa Milano probably isn’t going to be the person to come up with one.
I get it though. When you spend your life dressing up and pretending to be other people, it’s validating to give yourself a loftier “life role” (there’s another stomach-churning piece of jargon for you).
And if there’s a Hollywood actress out there today without the word “activist” after her name, I’m sure her people are working on finding her a cause.
But as the woman who has been hailed everything from a “voice of empowerment” to a “modern-day Emmeline Pankhurst” for kicking off #MeToo back in October 2017, Milano probably feels that pressure more than most – and one gets the feeling that the actress has been on a mission to find #MeToo 2.0 for some time.
Sorry, Alyssa, but #SexStrike wasn’t it.
Facile, juvenile and plain nonsensical, it was a classic example not just of the new narcissistic, self-serving brand of feminism we see so much of, but a phenomenon I call You Go Girl-ism.
Wherever there are large groups of excitable, shrill and defiant women, whether it be at hen parties, in pubs at closing time or on social media, you get You Go Girl-ism.
And it’s all rousing stuff until one of them, usually the ringleader, says or does something really cretinous, like shouting out: “Protect your vaginas, ladies. Men in positions of power are trying to legislate them.”
You’ll recognise it as the moment your parents used to mouth “OE” at each other when you were overexcited and showing off in front of guests as a child, sending you off to bed – hot-cheeked and humiliated – minutes later.
Is Milano too hopped up on her own heroic activism to feel humiliated right now? Have the retweets and clapping emojis cancelled out those branding her an “empty-headed, semifamous Hollywood activist, narcissistic she-buffoon”?
Certainly, the actress doesn’t seem to be thinking too far ahead.
Asked on Saturday morning how long the women of America should remain on sex strike – because, of course, there is a little thing called the future of humanity at stake – Milano replied: “I mean, I don’t know. I sent a tweet last night and I haven’t really thought much past that this morning.”
No. And therein, some might say, lie so many of today’s problems.
– © Telegraph Media Group Limited (2019)

This article is reserved for Times Select subscribers.
A subscription gives you full digital access to all Times Select content.

Times Select

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems?
Email helpdesk@timeslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.