Why This Chicago Woman Is Resorting to a 'Sex Strike'

December 12th 2015

Diana Crandall

In Spike Lee's latest film, "Chi-Raq," women in Chicago take a stand against gun violence by withholding sex from their husbands in an effort to stop them from engaging in gang warfare, which is endemic throughout the city. But one woman, April Lawson, is taking the concept literally and going on a "sex strike."

Lawson argues that the apathetic responses to gun-related deaths that she has seen from Chicago men are inspiring her to "close her legs" until there is an established pledge for peace.

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In an open letter addressed to “Chicago South Side Men,” Lawson calls on Chicago women to take a vow of celibacy. She encourages them to take a stand in order to “end senseless violence” as homicides continue to rise in Chicago.

“In a patriarchal society, a problem will not be addressed until it directly affects men. Abstinence has been used as a means of nonviolent protesting throughout history,” Lawson wrote on her change.org petition. “Sex strikes are forms of resistance often used to meet political, social or economic goals.”


In her open letter, Lawson calls the film, "Chi-Raq," art and says that “maybe these ladies [in the film] are onto something.”

“We share this planet equally. I’m interested in making the world a safer place for all little girls and boys,” Lawson writes in part. “But I can’t do any of that when the life expectancy on the South Side ends by the fourth grade.”

This isn't the first time a sex strike has been enacted in modern times, Discovery News notes. A strike in 2006 by girlfriends of Colombian gang members reportedly contributed to a nearly 30 percent drop in murders that occurred in 2010, The Week reports.

In 2009, a political empasse in Kenya ended after women withheld sex for one week, Discovery News reports.

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But "sex strikes" don't always work in the "literal" sense, Discovery News notes. A Liberian peace activist named Leymah Gbowee led a nonviolent movement to end a civil war in 2003, and part of her movement involved a sex strike.The Chicago Tribune reported Gbowee saying that the reason it was effective was because it brought media attention to the issue.

To read Lawson’s entire open letter or sign her petition, click here.

Watch the full trailer for Chi-Raq here.

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