Lysistratic protest is a longstanding, effective and empowering method to fight for change. In the 1600s, Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) women refused to engage in sex as a way to stop unregulated warfare, and their demands were met. In 2009, activists in Kenya organized a sex strike to force an end the deteriorating relationship between the President and Prime Minister. The strike lasted seven days, and ended when the leaders finally agreed to talks. In 2011, Colombia women used a sex strike to get a dangerous 35-mile road repaired.
When utilized as part of a broader strategy of coordinated action, sex strikes can raise awareness and achieve a wide range of political objectives. This is just one tool available in the fight for reproductive justice and abortion access — we must also support the organizations and individuals working courageously on the front lines by supporting them.
At its heart, these attempts to wield control over sex come from a desire to reassert total control over our bodies and our reproductive rights. But really, it’s about power. Whoever controls reproduction has power. The stakes are extremely high, and a number of lawmakers, many of whom are men, get to make decisions with serious ramifications.