Some days the internet results in ridiculous things. Today’s ridiculous find: Alyssa MIlano’s response to the governor of Georgia signing into law a fetal heartbeat bill protecting any fetus with a discernible heartbeat from being aborted. How does she respond? On May 10th, she tweeted “JOIN ME by not having sex until we get bodily autonomy back. I’m calling for a #SexStrike. Pass it on.”
Since then, various news outlets have run stories about this Tweet, and it has garnered the attention of a 24-hour news cycle. Let’s be real—this Tweet is not truly significant in terms of national or state policy. This is a celebrity using her platform to protest Georgia’s legislative pro-life action. From the perspective of Christian social commentary, however, two points of significance seem relevant.
First, this is an inferior attempt to apply Aristophanes’ famous Lysistrata in real life. In satirizing the length of the Peloponnesian war, comedic playwright Aristophanes used the titular character to provoke an international sex strike that brought the warring empires of Athens and Sparta to heel after a decade of war. Lysistrata had a surprisingly moral vision behind her use of intercourse to affect international politics: she affirmed the value of peace over war (or, we might say, life over death), she realistically sought an empowering stance for women, and she located the core of sexual power in the marriage bed.
Milano’s #sexstrike fails on these registers. She affirms death over life in her advocacy for abortion; as several feminists have pointed out, her #sexstrike ignores the question of female pleasure—what if the woman wants to have sex? Lastly, she assumes an extra-marital sexual context, placing her on weaker moral grounds.
Second, Milano reduces sex to a tool of political power, and in doing so she accidentally creates a contrast highlighting the positive vision of the Christian sexual ethic. For Milano, sex becomes a tool of political activism to be given or withheld as a way of signaling that Georgia either has, or lacks, the current politically correct stance.
Rather than elevating sexual encounters between human beings, this view reduces sex to something merely carnal and transactional. While I doubt this was Milano’s intent, she illustrates the result of the Sexual Revolution’s abolition of sex. Without bounds, structure, or purpose, sex becomes just another utilitarian calculation.
How much better the Christian perspective on sex looks in contrast! The Bible posits sex as a powerful way of interacting with fellow humans, and in need of covenantal boundaries for it to bring flourishing rather than heartache. Within the covenant of marriage, the Apostle Paul establishes a principle of mutual service—the husband’s body belongs to the wife, and the wife’s to her husband. This mutual gift of one to the other mirrors the gift of Himself that God gives to the Church; the intimacy of marriage reflects both the nature of God and humanity and the love which characterizes that relationship. It is not some cheap trick to be pulled in an electoral battle.
Milano has rightly spurred satirists’ attention; the Babylon Bee did not miss a beat. “All six men attracted to atheists deeply affected by the #Sexstrike.” Spectator USA ran a satirical piece claiming to be written by a “genderqueer Muslim atheist who is both trans and voluntarily celibate” who feels discriminated by the #sexstrike. Satire is perhaps the best response to this blip in the national headlines.
MIlano will not achieve her goal; this tweet, as ill thought out as it is, will not trouble the state of Georgia or its legislature. Instead, it becomes another place to note the way secular hedonism devours itself from the inside; how much greater the life lived according to law of God. Perhaps one day Alyssa Milano will meet Jesus and discover what truly matters in life.
Photo: Caro Allegri/Reuters