Jamil joins the ranks of Busy Philipps and the thousands of others who are coming forward with their abortion stories.
Jameela Jamil has long been an outspoken proponent of body positivity and mental health, but in response to the recent announcement that Georgia passed a "heartbeat bill"—which bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy and would punish women who seek one with up to a lifetime in prison—she took to Twitter to share that she had an abortion when she was young.
"It was the best decision I ever made," she said of her choice to terminate her pregnancy. "Both for me, and for the baby I didn't want, and wasn't ready for, emotionally, psychologically, and financially."
I had an abortion when I was young, and it was the best decision I have ever made. Both for me, and for the baby I… https://t.co/IzQmHBHgJS— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@Jameela Jamil 🌈)1557774248.0
This is me watching people who don’t know me... especially men (who have no idea what motherhood or pregnancy is li… https://t.co/z0i4d0vJzn— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@Jameela Jamil 🌈)1557873001.0
The actress, who stars on NBC's The Good Place, spoke out not only about her own experiences but also for those who will be most severely affected by the ban. "This anti-abortion law in Georgia is so upsetting, inhumane, and blatantly demonstrative of a hatred of women, a disregard for our rights, bodies, mental health," she tweeted, describing the bill as "essentially a punishment for rape victims," who are forced "to carry the baby of their rapist."
This anti-abortion law in Georgia is so upsetting, inhumane, and blatantly demonstrative of a hatred of women, a di… https://t.co/MC6bhzzzHv— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@Jameela Jamil 🌈)1557774247.0
Jamil also referenced the fact that "the anti-abortion law is also especially targeted at those without the means/ability to move state. Women who are marginalized, poor or disabled will, as ever, be the ones to suffer the most. The wealthy will have so much more freedom."
The anti-abortion law is also especially targeted at those without the means/ability to move state. Women who are m… https://t.co/GoNo36i28Y— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@Jameela Jamil 🌈)1557777604.0
This statement has deep roots in real history and research: in pre-Roe v. Wade days, wealthy women were able to pay doctors for under-the-table care, whereas poor women who were unable to do so often wound up dying from complications or winding up with more children than they could support, perpetuating a suffocating cycle of poverty and despair.
Following the aforementioned tweet, Jamil wrote, "*So* many of the same people saying that a 6-week old fetus is a life to be protected, only think that as long as the baby won't be gay/trans…" Following backlash, she later clarified that she was not implying that all pro-life people were anti-queer or anti-trans.
*So* many of the same people saying that a 6 week old fetus is a life to be protected, only think that as long as t… https://t.co/NPfnnCTtUg— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@Jameela Jamil 🌈)1557873476.0
If you see the words *so many* but interpret those words as meaning “ALL” then you are too stupid to follow me and… https://t.co/rwmMP2c0vz— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@Jameela Jamil 🌈)1557895963.0
Her comments have become even more relevant since news broke on Tuesday that the Alabama Senate voted in favor of a bill that would effectively ban all abortions, even in the case of rape and incest. In response to that, Jamil wrote simply, "Truly disgusting."
Alabama has sent the most restrictive abortion bill in the country to the governor's desk. It could punish doctors… https://t.co/uTOfTMquse— CNN International (@CNN International)1557900670.0
Truly disgusting . https://t.co/C5uHWxHPZZ— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@Jameela Jamil 🌈)1557895659.0
Jamil's revelation comes on the heels of Busy Philipps' defiant protest of the Georgia bill. On her talk show Busy Tonight, the Cougartown actress cited the statistic that 1 in 4 women will have an abortion before the age of 45—a figure that often surprises people. "Maybe you're sitting there thinking, 'I don't know a woman who would have an abortion,'" she said. "Well, you know me." She later took to Twitter, asking women to share their stories.
1 in 4 women have had an abortion. Many people think they don't know someone who has, but #youknowme. So let's do t… https://t.co/wOeNHDk5fl— Busy Philipps (@Busy Philipps)1557894034.0
The hashtag #YouKnowMe is currently trending on Twitter, drawing instant parallels to #MeToo. Jamil herself retweeted the phrase, and many others are sharing their stories in real time, as the Georgia and Alabama bills threaten to make their ways to the Supreme Court.
#youknowme https://t.co/CBhPYHXc9y— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@Jameela Jamil 🌈)1557934275.0
#youknowme I was 19. In an abusive relationship and don't regret it at all. https://t.co/WXC6TTUAFE— The Other Heather (@The Other Heather)1557934757.0
I was 19, in college, and supporting my alcoholic father and little brother with a shit job. I was on the pill. I w… https://t.co/re7LgV7GGj— Mrs Marmo (@Mrs Marmo)1557913845.0
I was sixteen. I had been raped by a school volunteer. The fetus had caused internal bleeding and I was fifteen min… https://t.co/uOt5EdpddM— Jennifer N (@Jennifer N)1557924293.0
20yrs old, broke, not sure what I wanted to do with my life, bc pill failed. I was lucky enough to be able to go to… https://t.co/H6SNpyln5J— maddie (@maddie)1557937079.0
If I didn’t, I would have died, my husband would have been a widow, and my one-year old would have grown up without a mother. #youknowme— Fashion Meets Fifty 💁🏻♀️ (@Fashion Meets Fifty 💁🏻♀️)1557894707.0
I was 12...need I say more??? #YouKnowMe— Niesha Love🌺 (@Niesha Love🌺)1557924608.0
I feel proud and honored to hear people sharing their #YouKnowMe abortion stories, but let’s be clear, you don’t ne… https://t.co/B47SzZPxZ2— Hannah Solow (@Hannah Solow)1557928887.0
@BusyPhilipps @yashar #youknowme also I'm a 61 year old bad ass woman— Dottie (@Dottie)1557894774.0
Both the Georgia and Alabama bills have garnered nationwide attention from some of the most prominent figures in politics, and have sparked a contentious debate across party lines. They come in the wake of similar 6-week bans from Mississippi and Ohio. Each of these bans is likely to be overturned in lower courts, which means that the issue could make it to the Supreme Court. Before Donald Trump was elected, overturning Roe v. Wade seemed infeasible, but this is no longer the case due to the appointments of Neil Gorsuch and another figure who has shown notorious disregard for women's rights to their own bodies: Brett Kavanaugh.
The attack on women’s rights is happening in Alabama, Georgia and across the country, and we must fight it everywhe… https://t.co/PJOGRlv698— Bernie Sanders (@Bernie Sanders)1557935324.0
Jamil and Philipps are far from alone in their outrage at this sequence of events. Another actress, Alyssa Milano, has also taken significant steps to protest the bills. On Twitter, Milano called for a "sex strike," at least "until we get our body autonomy back"—an act that received instant criticism for a myriad of reasons. However, Milano later stated that the proposed strike was merely intended to garner attention and generate conversation about the issue. "My purpose for sending out that tweet was simply, I felt like these bills were being ignored and sending out that tweet, look at me now, I'm on your show and we're talking about women's rights and how they're being rolled back," she told CNN's, Chris Cuomo.
The #SexStrike tweet has reminded people of the Republican war against women. GOOD. These oppressive, regressiv… https://t.co/sOisvy34GQ— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa Milano)1557775813.0
"Nobody wants to get an abortion," she said. "But there are circumstances that we cannot avoid. There's the mother's health, there's just not being ready ... And what that means financially. Just because there are women that don't believe in abortion doesn't take away someone else's right."
She concluded with a call to action. "There are many people on the ground, these grassroots organizations like Sister Song that are fighting these bills in the South. We have to come together as a collective voice. We have to turn this fear that we're feeling right now into power and into votes in 2020," she said.
The Georgia bill, should it go into effect, is slated to become law in 2020. The fate of the Alabama bill currently rests in the hands of Governor Kay Ivey.
Please donate to @yellowfund, an organization helping people seeking care at Alabama abortion clinics: https://t.co/cTgKuLpUZp— Megan Amram (@Megan Amram)1557939516.0
Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York City. Follow her on Twitter @edenarielmusic.
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Historically, a sex strike is an effective form of activism—but not in the U.S.
Activists all over the world have historically used sex as a weapon to further their agendas.
In 1600, Iroquois women gained the power to veto their tribe's decision to go to war by withholding sex. In 2009, women's movements in Kenya and the Philippines banned sex to stop political violence and in-fighting; in both instances, violence reduced and the local governments stabilized within weeks. In 2017, singer Janelle Monae told Marie Claire there should be a sex strike to support the women's rights movement, saying, "People have to start respecting the vagina. Until every man is fighting for our rights, we should consider stopping having sex." A sex boycott didn't follow the celebrated 2017 Women's March. But recently, in the wake of Georgia's radical new law banning abortion, actress Alyssa Milano took to Twitter calling for a sex strike to protest restrictions on a women's right to choose.
Last week, Georgia's governor, Brian Kemp, signed into law the most radical abortion ban in the country. Dubbed the "heartbeat bill," HB 481 criminalizes abortion after about six weeks, the point at which a fetus has a "detectable human heartbeat." The state's law is an alarming step to restrict women's access to abortion, and it's sparked widespread confusion as to whether or not a woman could be prosecuted for murder for "self-terminating" her pregnancy or even for having a miscarriage. Luckily, there are existing laws that protect women from being prosecuted for losing their unborn children; however, until the law goes into effect on January 1, 2020, it remains to be seen if prosecutors will use elastic interpretations of HB 481 to penalize women for aborted pregnancies (which happened in a 2015 case).
In response, Milano tweeted on Friday: "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." The 46-year-old actress followed up with a post about the history of effective sex strikes, such as those in Kenya and the Philippines. "History shows that a #sexstrike is surprisingly effective," she wrote.
Our reproductive rights are being erased. Until women have legal control over our own bodies we just cannot risk p… https://t.co/TsIN3KUQM7— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa Milano)1557542438.0
History shows that a #sexstrike is surprisingly effective. https://t.co/aQbW7RiWlR— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa Milano)1557595087.0
However, she also linked to a 2017 Quartz article about sex strikes being a "surprisingly effective strategy for political change"—and the entire argument of that piece is why a sex strike could never work in the States. Historically, successful sex strikes have taken place in relatively small and very homogeneous communities, where women were united by very specific and focused demands. Critics have long argued that the demographics of American women are too diverse and U.S. politics are too divisive for a sex strike to unite people in a similar way.
But fundamentally, how does a sex strike work? Isn't a call for women to treat their bodies as commodities they can withhold just as objectifying as laws telling women what to do with their bodies? Wait, what even technically counts as "sex?" If you're boycotting sex to protest an abortion ban, then doesn't that imply that all sex involves a woman's vagina? Aside from the dubiousness of condoning women using sex as a weapon, recognition of queer identities complicates that logic. After all, how do gay men and women participate in a sex strike to effect change? If we treat sex as political, then sexual orientations become politically charged as well; that's risky because doing so suggests that orientations are held in some hierarchy of power. Does straight sex hold more political power than queer sex? The rabbit hole doesn't seem to end, and it doesn't result in political change.
Accordingly, critical responses on Twitter ranged from condemning sex strikes as treating women like bargaining chips to pointing out that striking for "reproductive rights" misses the underlying issue of Georgia's abortion ban. Writer Kristi Coulter responded, "Living under patriarchy has already robbed me of safety, autonomy, opportunities, and trust in our institutions. Now I'm supposed to give up sex, too, and play into the fiction that it's just a bargaining chip/transaction for women? Love you, but nope."
@Alyssa_Milano A shame because again, you are using sex as a weapon, as a way to get what you want. I guess your br… https://t.co/jRmCCHFcOm— Tammy R. Lawson (@Tammy R. Lawson)1557652819.0
@Alyssa_Milano Living under patriarchy has already robbed me of safety, autonomy, opportunities, and trust in our i… https://t.co/iO20VoIA4b— Kristi Coulter (@Kristi Coulter)1557595073.0
Oddly, some supporters of Georgia's law agreed with Milano's suggestion, but they pointed out that it lacks a clear target. Lila Rose, president of an anti-abortion organization called Live Action, responded, "I'm totally with you, @Alyssa_Milano, on not having sex. But the issue isn't 'reproductive rights.' The issue is reproductive responsibilities & fidelity. No one should have sex until they're ready to embrace the privilege & responsibility of lifelong commitment & raising a child."
@Alyssa_Milano I’m totally with you, @Alyssa_Milano, on not having sex. But the issue isn’t “reproductive rights.”… https://t.co/87WCkEotSJ— Lila Rose (@Lila Rose)1557588412.0
On Saturday, Milano defended her strike to the Associated Press, saying, "We need to understand how dire the situation is across the country. It's reminding people that we have control over our own bodies and how we use them." Despite her good intentions, the best way to protest people telling women what to do with their own bodies probably isn't to tell women what they should do with their own bodies.
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