- Alyssa Milano called for women to join her in a sex strike to protest against controversial abortion laws.
- Many social media users criticized the strike, arguing that it suggests sex is only enjoyed by men and is used by women as a weapon or a form of currency.
- In fact, Milano’s call unintentionally pulled in support from conservatives and pro-life advocates who have since co-opted the movement.
Actress Alyssa Milano sparked outrage with a tweet sent Friday, calling for a sex strike in response to restrictive abortion laws.
“Until women have legal control over our own bodies we just cannot risk pregnancy,” Milano wrote. “JOIN ME by not having sex until we get bodily autonomy back.”
Her tweet came days after Georgia became the fourth state in the U.S. this year to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected.
“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.”
Milano noted that women have historically withheld sex to protest or advocate for political reform. According to the AP, “She cited how Iroquois women refused to have sex in the 1600s as a way to stop unregulated warfare. Most recently, she noted that Liberian women used a sex strike in 2003 to demand an end to a long-running civil war.”
Many people took issue with the strike, arguing that it assumes that sex is only enjoyed by men and that women’s bodies are a commodity.
Living under patriarchy has already robbed me of safety, autonomy, opportunities, and trust in our institutions. Now I’m supposed to give up sex, too, and play into the fiction that it’s just a bargaining chip/transaction for women? Love you, but nope.— Kristi Coulter (@KristiCCoulter) May 11, 2019
Please stop feeding the narrative that women are providers and men are consumers of sex. Bribing men for equal rights with access to our bodies is not how feminism works.— feminist next door (@emrazz) May 11, 2019
Hi the idea of a #sexstrike just perpetuates the idea that sex is something women give and men take, creating a power imbalance where men feel like they have to coerce sex from a woman and women feel like they have to weaponize their sex lives thank you for coming to my Ted Talk. https://t.co/llZRy54zNE— Maria Del Russo (@maria_delrusso) May 11, 2019
My husband is as outraged as I am. Why should we not have sex? This strike may mean well and contain cheap “feel good” reactions but it pushes a sexist narrative that sex is something WE give to men as a form of currency. That is not empowering. At all.— Ms. Deathwish (@Ms_Deathwish) May 11, 2019
The strike did receive some support from fans as well as fellow actress Bette Midler, who joined in with a tweet of her own.
However, Milano’s call unintentionally pulled in support from conservatives and pro-life activists who co-opted the movement.
I’m praying your sex-strike catches on!! Think of all the abortions that will be avoided! Meanwhile, I’ll keep working on defunding Planned Parenthood & overturning Roe v Wade! This is the 1st brilliant idea you’ve had!! Good job!!👍👶— Dian (@Dian5) May 12, 2019
Pro-life here. Wholeheartedly in support of this.— Fae (@Feli21281088) May 12, 2019
Great idea!!! Abstinence is the best way to prevent unwanted pregnancies!!— Sandra Lowell (@SandraLowell1) May 11, 2019
Lila Rose, president of the anti-abortion organization Live Action, responded to Milano’s strike saying, “I’m totally with you, @Alyssa_Milano, on not having sex. But the issue isn’t ‘reproductive rights.’ The issue is reproductive responsibilities & fidelity.”
I’m totally with you, @Alyssa_Milano, on not having sex. But the issue isn’t “reproductive rights.” The issue is reproductive responsibilities & fidelity. No one should have sex until they’re ready to embrace the privilege & responsibility of lifelong commitment & raising a child— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) May 11, 2019
Milano said the criticism over her tweet doesn’t bother her because it is “getting people to talk about the war on women.”
As far as how long the strike should last, she said people have to determine that for themselves. For her part, says hasn’t decided yet how long she will go without sex.
“I mean I don’t know,” Milano told the AP. “I sent a tweet last night I haven’t really thought much past that this morning.”
By Saturday, Milano tweeted that she would be writing an editorial about the strike.
This is the latest form of protest Milano has called for in response to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signing the controversial “heartbeat” bill.
Last week, Milano and several others in the film industry responded by threatening to pull productions from the state unless the law is overturned. Georgia’s film industry generates billions in revenue and is home to anywhere between 30-40 productions at a time, including massively popular shows like Stranger Things and The Walking Dead.
Billionaire Pledges to Pay Loan Debt of This Year’s Morehouse College Graduates
- Billionaire investor Robert F. Smith promised to pay off the student loan debt of the 2019 graduates at Morehouse College, an all-male historically black school in Atlanta, Georgia.
- Though the exact amount of the class’ debt is still being calculated, the gift is expected to be around $40 million.
- This is just one of Smith’s major donations in recent years.
A Generous Gift
Billionaire tech investor and philanthropist Robert F. Smith said he will pay off the student debt for all graduates in Morehouse College’s class of 2019.
Smith announced the news on Sunday while delivering the commencement address at the all-male historically black college in Atlanta, Georgia.
“On behalf of the eight generations of my family who have been in this country, we’re gonna put a little fuel in your bus,” he said. “This is my class, 2019. And my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans.”
His announcement shocked the nearly 400 graduates, who reacted with cheers and applause.
One graduating student named Aaron Mitchom told the Associated Press that he had drawn up a spreadsheet to calculate how long it would take him to pay off his $200,000 in student debt. According to his math, it would take him about 25 years.
“I can delete that spreadsheet,” he told the AP after the commencement. “I don’t have to live off of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I was shocked. My heart dropped. We all cried. In the moment it was like a burden had been taken off.”
Brandon Manor, another graduate, told the New York Times, “Now all of a sudden, I can look at schools I might not have considered, because I am not applying with about $100,000 in undergraduate loans.”
Who is Robert F. Smith?
The 56-year-old who originally hails from Colorado but now lives in Austin went to Cornell for his undergraduate degree and earned a B.S. in chemical engineering. Afterward, Smith earned his MBA from Columbia Business School.
He went on to work for several companies like Kraft General Foods and then Goldman Sachs, advising companies like Apple and Microsoft before founding his own investment firm.
What does this gift mean?
Smith’s pledge stunned administrators, who called it the largest single gift in the school’s history. The donation also comes at a time where student loan debt has soared to roughly $1.5 trillion, according to recent Federal Reserve data.
Morehouse President David A. Thomas called the gesture “a liberation gift,” telling CNN, “When you have to service debt, the choices about what you can go do in the world are constrained.”
“(Smith’s gift) gives them the liberty to follow their dreams, their passions.”
According to Thomas, the total amount of student debt for the class is still being calculated but the Associated Press estimated that the gift is worth about $40 million.
In return, Smith says he expects the graduating class to pay it forward to give future classes the same opportunity one day.
“Let’s make sure every class has the same opportunity going forward, because we are enough to take care of our own community,” he said.
“We are enough to ensure we have all of the opportunities of the American dream, and we will show it to each other through our actions and through our words and through our deeds.”
Other Major Donations
The billionaire tech executive has managed to stay under the radar for much of his career. While this major donation has thrust him into the spotlight, it is far from his first generous gift.
In 2016, he pledged a $20 million gift to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. That same year, he donated $50 million to Cornell University to go towards its chemical and biomolecular engineering school, and to support black and female engineering students.
In 2017, Smith signed The Giving Pledge, a commitment by some of the world’s richest people – including Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet – who have promises to giving most of their wealth to philanthropy. In 2018, he gave $2.5 million to the Prostate Cancer Foundation to focus on research and care for African-American men and veterans with prostate cancer.
Before Sunday’s graduation speech, Smith had already donated $1.5 million to Morehouse for scholarships and a new park.
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