Sex strike

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FEMEN calling for a sex strike in 2010.

A sex strike allegedly involves a large number of women ceasing to have sex with men in order to achieve some aim. Feminists seem to call for a sex strike on a fair regular basis. These strikes are often inspired by or compared to the ancient Greek play Lysistrata. There is little evidence that sex strikes happen let alone effect change. Calls for sex strikes typically garner media attention for a cause but do little beyond this. The increased frequency of calls for sex strikes in recent years may cause media interest to wane.

October 1997

The chief of the Military of Colombia, General Manuel Bonnet publicly called for a sex strike among the wives and girlfriends of the Colombian left-wing guerrillas, drug traffickers, and paramilitaries as part of a strategy—along with diplomacy—to achieve a ceasefire. The guerrillas ridiculed the initiatives, pointing at the fact that there were more than 2,000 women in their army. The strike was ineffective.[1]


A sex strike in Kenya, the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace, was called by activist Leymah Gbowee. Later Gbowee admitted that the sex strike had been ineffective other than in drawing media attention:

"The strike lasted, on and off, for a few months. It had little or no practical effect, but it was extremely valuable in getting us media attention. Until today, nearly 10 years later, whenever I talk about the Mass Action, 'What about the sex strike?' is the first question everyone asks." [2]

September 2006

Dozens of wives and girlfriends of gang members from Pereira, Colombia, started a sex strike called La huelga de las piernas cruzadas ("the strike of crossed legs") to curb gang violence, in response to 480 deaths due to gang violence in the coffee region. According to spokeswoman Jennifer Bayer, the specific target of the strike was to force gang members to turn in their weapons in compliance with the law. According to them, many gang members were involved in violent crime for status and sexual attractiveness, and the strike sent the message that refusing to turn in the guns was not sexy. The strike was ineffective.[3]

March 2010

FEMEN called on Ukrainian women to go on a sex strike. This appears to have garnered little interest among Ukrainian women.

February 2011

Belgian socialist senator Marleen Temmerman proposed a sex strike to break a political impasse in Belgium at the time.[4] Ultimately the impasse was resolved without resorting to a sex strike.

June 2011

Flag of Barbacoas

Women in the town of Barbacoas, Colombia engaged in a sex strike because the government had left the road to the town in a poor state of repair. The men of the town have no more leverage to correct the problem than the women but now the men were without sex or a good road.[5][6]

The sex strike ended after three months when it was claimed the problem would be addressed.[7]

October 2013

The women of Barbacoas, Colombia again began a sex stike after the first one didn't work.[8][9][10][11]

As of 2022 it is unclear if the road has actually been repaired.

April 2017

Janelle Monáe called for a sex strike.[12][13] While there was widespread media attention there is no evidence that a sex strike occurred.

July 2018

Feminists call for a sex strike over Roe v Wade.[14]

November 2018

CNN calls for a sex strike to influence how men vote.[15]

May 2019

Alyssa Milano proposed a sex strike to protest restrictions on abortion in the United States.[16] Many women such as Bette Midler and Maureen Shaw supported Milano's position while others disagreed on the basis that it portrayed sex as something that women give to men.[17] While there was widespread media attention there is no evidence that a sex strike occurred.

May 2022

Joy Behar proposes a sex strike over Roe v Wade.[18][19]

June 2022

American protestors again called for a sex strike over the repeal of Roe v Wade.[20][21]

September 2022

PETA in Germany calls for a sex strike against men that eat meat.[22][23]

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