Knitting has long-since been a craft associated with females, often with a derogatory connotation. It’s sometimes been used as a way to bar women from important conversations, in a way that says, “this doesn’t concern you.” Still, the number of female knitters aged 25 to 35 throughout the nation increased by nearly 150% between 2002 and 2004. And with this year’s groundbreaking Women’s March, more people were knitting and purling than ever before to churn out those ubiquitous pink hats.
But now, Janelle Monae is suggesting there may be another way to #resist: a Lysistrata-inspired sex strike.
In this month’s issue of Marie Claire, Monae proposed that women should use this method to take back their power and inspire men to join them in the fight for equal rights.
“People have to start respecting the vagina,” said Monae. “Until every man is fighting for our rights, we should consider stopping having sex. I love men. But evil men? I will not tolerate that. You don’t deserve to be in my presence. If you’re going to own this world and this is how you’re going to rule this world, I am not going to contribute anymore until you change it. We have to realize our power and our magic. Because I am all about black-girl magic, even though I’m standing with all women.”
Slate copy editor Heather Schwedel points out that while Monae’s idea may be good in theory, it would be nearly impossible to execute in practice. Schwedel compares the idea to the Women’s March that took place this January, which was organized in just two months, involved more than 400,000 on-site protesters, and inspired more than 600 other marches with an estimated 4 million participants around the world.
“The Women’s March, the most successful protest in recent memory, was no easy feat to organize. A lot of it was essentially moderating a very large and very unruly Facebook group. There were also permits to obtain, in-fighting factions to quell, knitting patterns to distribute. Is Janelle Monae willing to take on the role of organizing an event of a similar scale to mark the sex strike? … For maximum impact, should all women walk out of their bedrooms and take to the streets in their lingerie at an appointed time? If we do this during the day to take advantage of the light, what if people confuse us for one of those pillow-fight flash mobs? Will it be too on the nose if we all knit chastity belts to wear?”
While Schwedel notes that she supports the concept of punishing those men who aren’t supportive of women’s rights, she thinks Monae’s call-to-arms would end up being “an administrative nightmare.”
Still, at least women are speaking out — and continuing to fight back. Earlier this month, organizers of the International Women’s March organized protests and sit-ins as a sign of resistance to “send a clear message that we will rise up, together, against attacks on our health care, our identities, and our religious freedoms.” The House’s decision to repeal and replace Obamacare will be of particular importance to women, as they may have to pay higher premiums for newly deemed pre-existing conditions like pregnancy, C-sections, post-partum depression, anorexia, and more.
In their “Pledge of Liberation” on their website, organizers noted, “The attacks on queer and trans people, on disabled people, on Black, brown and Indigenous people, on immigrants, on poor people, on Muslim and Jewish people, the attacks on health care and the environment, the rendering of violence against women as a pre-existing condition — these are all one assault on our fundamental rights to live with dignity, autonomy and liberty.”
While no resistant effort is without its flaws, these important exercises in democracy show that the American people won’t stop fighting for their beliefs.