Alyssa Milano proposed a sex strike to protest restrictive abortion laws but it kind of misses the point.

Alabama and Georgia have passed restrictive and possibly illegal abortion laws, and, no surprise, a lot of people are upset about it. Many Hollywood productions that shoot in Georgia are departing from the state in protest.

Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams announced they will continue to shoot Lovecraft Country in Georgia, but the money they earn from the show will go straight to two charities working to overturn the law.


But actress Alyssa Milano, who shoots Insatiable in Georgia, came up with probably the most attention-grabbing (and kind of problematic) way to protest the law. She called for a sex strike.

Georgia’s new law forbids abortion when a heartbeat is detected, roughly six weeks into a pregnancy. Legal abortions after a heartbeat is detected are allowed if the pregnancy jeopardizes the life of the mother, or if the fetus will not survive outside the womb. Abortion is also allowed in the case of rape or incest as long as the woman files a police report.

“Our reproductive rights are being erased. Until women have legal control over our own bodies we just cannot risk pregnancy. JOIN ME by not having sex until we get bodily autonomy back. I’m calling for a #SexStrike. Pass it on,” Milano wrote on Twitter.

Milano’s sex strike received some support.  

But others were quick to point out the flaws in Milano’s logic. The idea of a sex strike reduces sex to a bargaining tool. It reinforces the misogynistic ideas that women’s bodies are there to give sexual pleasure to men, women are not supposed to enjoy sex, and refusing to have sex with a man is a punishment.

Milano said that the idea of a sex strike was to get people’s attention and to raise awareness of the issue, which it did. “A #SexStrike is another way for people who have the potential to get pregnant to call attention to this systematic onslaught and assert the power to change our own destinies,” Milano said.

Sure, the whole Lysistrada thing might have worked in a time when men were writing books with titles like How to Train Your Wife, and nobody batted an eye. But we’ve progressed a lot since Ancient Greek times, and so must our ideas of what should be considered a protest.  

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Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

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Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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