Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Janelle Monáe thinks we should consider going on a ‘sex strike’ for feminism

janelle-monae-sex-strike.jpg

Based on her CV alone, Janelle Monáe – actor in Oscar-nominated films, creator of Grammy-nominated music, fashion icon, record label executive, Prince collaborator, etc., etc. – is a difficult woman not to admire. But beyond her (many) career achievements, the 31-year-old’s most impressive attribute is her readiness to speak out on topics she cares about. Whether she’s highlighting the achievements of women of colour on her Instagram feed, asking the crowd to recite the names of black Americans killed by police during her live shows or hitting back at period shamers on Twitter, Monáe has never been afraid to get political.

Now, in a new interview, the star of Hidden Figures and Moonlight has suggested a novel way for women to fight the patriarchy: a sex strike.

Women should consider refusing to sleep with men until they start taking feminism seriously, says Monáe.

“People have to start respecting the vagina,” she tells Marie Claire. “Until every man is fighting for our rights, we should consider stopping having sex.”


Read more: In conversation with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


Monáe has always been enigmatic about her sexuality, saying in 2011 that she “only dates androids” and that she wants both men and women to be attracted to her. Today, she insists that she “[loves] men” – but that men who treat women badly are persona non grata.

janelle

“Evil men? I will not tolerate that”: Janelle Monáe.

“Evil men? I will not tolerate that,” says Monáe. “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,” she continues.

“We [women] have to realise our power and our magic.”


Read more: Why it’s time to abandon political correctness and talk openly about race


Monáe, who spoke at the Women’s March on Washington and has been a committed and prominent activist within the Black Lives Matter movement, adds that she wants black women in particular to appreciate how important they are.

“I am all about black girl magic, even though I’m standing with all women,” she says, adding: “This year, I am so carefree black girl.”

While going on sex strike might seem like an extreme method in the battle for gender equality, Monáe is far from the first woman to suggest using – and refusing – sex to achieve political aims. Igbo women in pre-colonial Nigeria periodically organised themselves into a Women’s Council, and were known to go on general strike if men harassed or abused them. According to anthropologist Ifi Amadiume, Igbo women would refuse all “domestic, sexual and maternal services” in the face of men behaving badly, and leave town en masse taking only breastfeeding babies with them.

chi-raq

Spike Lee's 2015 film Chi-Raq, starring Teyonah Parris and John Cusack (pictured), was inspired by a Greek play about women going on sex strike to achieve peace.

There have also been several modern occurrences of women using sex strikes as a way of trying to achieve peace in their communities. In 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 the crossed legs” – in the hope of persuading men to turn in their weapons.

They argued that if men believed that violent crime wasn’t attractive to women, they might be less inclined to take part in gang warfare. (Within a few years, the city’s murder rate had seen the steepest decline in Colombia.)

In South Sudan in 2014, meanwhile, politician Pricilla Nanyang coordinated a meeting with female peace activists in which they called women “to deny their husband conjugal rights until they ensure that peace returns”.

Sex strikes have also long provided inspiration for works of fiction. The Greek playwright Aristophanes’ comic work Lysistrata, first performed in Athens in 411 BCE, tells the story of women who refuse to have sex with their warring husbands unless they end the Peloponnesian War.

In more recent times, Spike Lee’s 2015 satirical film Chi-Raq (which was, in turn, partially based on Lysistrata) explored what would happen if women living on Chicago’s violent South Side refused to have sex until men laid down their guns.

Images: Rex Features

Related

Main_rt.jpg

“Women are powerful in numbers”: Taraji P Henson talks to Stylist

edl-english-defence-league-birmingham-saffiyah-khan-2.jpg

Birmingham woman goes viral after standing up to far-right protesters

two year old doll.JPG

Toddler shuts down cashier who asked why she wanted a black doll

More

The best A-list Instagrams from the weekend

Cara Delevingne’s fangirl moment and 90s supermodels reuniting

by Nicola Colyer
25 Sep 2017

Piers Morgan's comments about Meghan Markle have riled up the internet

A heavy dose of sexism with your morning telly

by Kayleigh Dray
25 Sep 2017

Julia Stiles talks women in Hollywood and her controversial baby name

Stylist.co.uk chats with the Riviera star

by Harriet Hall
25 Sep 2017

Chrissy Teigen’s reason for never divorcing John Legend is too good

Just when we thought we couldn’t love her more

by Susan Devaney
25 Sep 2017

NASA just paid tribute to Hidden Figures' Katherine Johnson

This is long overdue

by Susan Devaney
25 Sep 2017

Ellen DeGeneres has officially banned Donald Trump from her TV show

Her powerful statement sums up everything that’s wrong with the president

by Kayleigh Dray
25 Sep 2017

Jessica Ennis-Hill unveils baby girl’s incredibly trendy name

The gold medallist announced the news via an intimate Instagram photo

by Kayleigh Dray
25 Sep 2017

All the best A-list Instagrams from the week so far

From a star-studded dinner party to Serena Williams’ sweet mother-daughter snap

by Nicola Colyer
22 Sep 2017

Justin Trudeau reveals his surprising feminist inspiration

Bromance brewing?

by Susan Devaney
21 Sep 2017

Some people only just realised that Rihanna’s real name isn’t Rihanna

Erm, did we not all know this already?

by Kayleigh Dray
21 Sep 2017