As the world watches (and in many cases scoffs) as American actress Alyssa Milano calls for a sex strike over abortion laws in Georgia, they might like to do their research before they dismiss her approach to forcing change.
A sex strike is not a new phenomena, and in many cases throughout history, it has actually worked.
Of course, the conversation in 2019 is more about the morality of using a woman’s body as a tool for change, but in Colombia it has redefined women’s activism in the country and paved the way for real positive change.
The Quicky dives into the history of sex strikes. Post continues after podcast.
In 2006, a group of women started the strike of the ‘crossed legs’ to put a stop to gang violence.
The women were wives and girlfriends of the gang leaders and with the support of their mayor’s office, they sent their partners a clear message: give up guns, or give up sex.
The city had done surveys and found out many gang members were in it not for the money, but because of the power and sexual seduction they thought it granted them.
“We want them to know that violence is not sexy,” Jennifer Bayer, 18, told The Guardian at the time.
She said the men had laughed about the strike when they started, but they soon realised the women weren’t backing down.
Pereira where the strike was being held, had Colombia’s highest murder rate. But within a few years, Colombia saw its steepest decline in the murder rate down 26 percent in 2010.
Spurred on by the success, Colombian women in a different town continued the ‘crossed legs’ movement.
They refused to have sex with their husbands and partners to encourage the government to deal with the terrible condition of a 35-mile stretch of road leading from their home of Barbacoas.
Due to frequent flooding and mudslides the road was often closed, and could take as long as 24 hours to travel down. The nearest hospital could involve a 14 hour journey.
The group of 300 women said their main concern was the risks of young women and their babies dying in childbirth.
After three months of abstinence, the government pledged funds to re-pave the road, but this did not materialise.
So in 2013, the women again withheld sex. This time, their men didn’t wait three months, they spurred into action, and army engineers were brought in to re-pave problem areas.
Their spokeswoman told the GlobalPost: “At first, the men were really angry. But it worked”.