Before coming to any conclusion, I like to assess all sides – a skill that I feel may be in rarity in this society. When Janelle Monáe said that women should consider abstaining from sex until men are fighting for women’s rights, she turned some heads. Some believe that it’s awful for her to suggest that; others, like me, agree. Why?
Well, for one, she has a point. Spike Lee’s “Chiraq” took a stab at this by suggesting that celibacy would reduce the problem of violence in Chicago. I haven’t seen the movie, and don’t plan on seeing it, so I can’t make an opinion about whether Spike’s approach was effective, but judging by public opinion, it was ineffective since the movie flopped. What I will say is that Spike’s correlation did feel a little erroneous.
I just don’t see how withholding sex would have a domino effect on gun violence. In other words, it seemed like a reach, whereas Monáe’s is a more direct approach. Men, for the most part, want sex and women, for the most part, want rights. She said that sex shouldn’t be used as a “bargaining tool” because women’s rights are more important than that (my opinion), but the celibacy can be a demonstration.
Many of the men who explicitly subscribe to misogyny are concerned with the “natural” order of things – meaning they see women as sources of procreation. This so, withholding sex from them may challenge them to change their hearts. Then again, patriarchy is not as explicit as it once was, so how can this affect the implicitly sexist?
Although they may not see women as just a source of procreation, some men don’t realize or don’t want to address their sexism because they believe that’s the way it’s “supposed” to be. However, sex is still a desire within them and if they are deprived of that, they can start assessing their internal errors.
Finally, we’ve come to the tricky part: sexist gay men. Believe it or not, they do exist. So, how would this affect them? In all honesty, it wouldn’t. However, Monáe did not present this as an “end-all” idea. She said women should “consider” not having sex with men until they are fighting for our rights – not women should. There’s an important difference here. One phrase is a suggestion while the other is a command, which we’re trying to get away from.
One weakness of Monáe’s argument is the fact that men may appear to “fight” for rights only to get what they want then retreat back to their sexism. As stated, this was not presented as an “end-all” kind of thing. It will take more than celibacy, but this is certainly a start and maybe once this starts, we can find other impactful solutions that can spread to sexist gay men and even sexist women, too.