Thinking of Going on a Sex Strike?

The women of the rural town of Barbacoas in southwest Colombia have been on a sex strike since June 22, forgoing all sexual activity with their men until the central government fulfills their promise of paving the only road leading in and out of their town. As it is right now, the dangerous 35-mile mountain road has made the town virtually unreachable, resulting in countless deaths.

Judge Marybell Silva, spokesperson for the movement, said: “I personally had to see a 23-year-old pregnant woman die along with her unborn baby just because the ambulance got stuck on the road and count not reach [the capital of the region]. That’s when I knew we had to do something.”

And while we’re rooting for these women and understand their “Crossed Legs Strike,” it got us to thinking if staging a sex strike in our own relationships is ever a good idea. We asked Dr. Carmela Pérez, PhD, a psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City, and here’s what she had to say:

Why do some women use sex as a negotiation tool?

Some women use sex as a negotiation tool because they are angry, frustrated, or disappointed and feel no control over an issue in their relationship.  Women know that sex is something men want from them, so they make the mistake of using sex as a form of control over their partner.

Can withholding sex ever spice up a relationship?

No, when one person withholds sex it hurts the relationship, because they are using sex as a weapon or a power tool. It’s indicative of communication problems in the couple. Instead of talking about the problems, they are creating a scenario where they have the upper hand in the relationship.  

How can it adversely affect your partner?  

You are sexually rejecting your partner, so withholding sex can feel resentful, and angry, but they can also begin to feel self-conscious about that rejection. Your partner can feel unattractive, undesirable and insecure and this can lead to hopelessness and even depression.

Anything else you'd like to add?  

Making the time and putting in the effort to communicate with your partner, and expressing love and respect are important ways to prevent sex from becoming a weapon in a relationship.

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About this author

Grace Bastidas, Deputy Editor

Born and raised in Queens, New York, where more languages are spoken than anywhere in the world, Grace Bastidas is Latina’s Deputy Editor. She oversees lifestyle content, including topics as diverse as career, health and relationships, and occasionally writes about her own experiences in The Good Life section. As a writer, Grace’s work has appeared in The New York TimesNew York magazine, The Wall Street Journal and Travel + Leisure. She is fluent in Spanish.

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