In a CNN op-ed co-written by activist Waleisah Wilson and published Monday, the actress defended her decision to encourage women to refuse sex.
“Calling for a sex strike as a way to protest restrictions on abortion has sparked a powerful response,” Milano wrote. “Sure, it’s been a mixed reaction, but it got the country talking about the GOP’s undeniable war on women.”
She continued, “And let’s face it, with so much going on every day in the news, sometimes we need an extreme response to get national attention.”
On Friday, Milano tweeted her call for a sex strike, writing, “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.”
Milano’s tweet came just days after Republican Gov. Brian Kemp signed the so-called “heartbeat bill” in Georgia, effectively banning most abortions six weeks after conception, before many women even know they’re pregnant.
The activist’s post set off a Twitter firestorm, with hashtag #sexstrike trending on the social media platform over the weekend.
Milano doubled down on her proposed method of protest in a series of tweets Saturday. In one message, she cited a 2017 Quartz report highlighting moments in history when women have led sex strikes to protest problems including political conflict and violence.
While some women on social media supported Milano’s efforts, others slammed the idea. Critics said the very notion of a sex strike suggested that sex is a bargaining “transaction” for women. They argued that it excludes women in the LGBTQ community and ignores the threat of sexual violence.
Milano wrote in her op-ed that an “equally bold response” is needed for “the restrictions on our basic human rights and dignity.”
“And, so, we call on all people whose rights are in danger to participate in a #SexStrike,” she said.
“A #SexStrike is a way to target straight, cisgender men so they may feel the physical consequences of our reproductive rights being systematically eliminated,” Milano wrote. “This form of protest has the potential to raise the issue far beyond the usual groups engaged in debates about reproductive health.”
Peggy Drexler, a research psychologist, called the sex strike proposal “misguided” in another CNN opinion piece on Monday.
“Think about it. In calling for a sex strike as a way to regain ‘bodily autonomy,’ as she put it, Milano is implying that women pretty much only have sex to please men or for babies,” Drexler wrote. “There’s no acknowledgment that women might have sex for their own pleasure.”
“There are other ways to protest the Georgia law,” Drexler argued, “including donating to Planned Parenthood or another organization working to protect women’s rights, calling your representatives, and voting, which too many people do not do.”