Spike Lee Urges Women to Go on Sex Strike to Protest Campus Rape and Harassment

Spike Lee has said a sex strike by women could help prevent sexual harassment on college campuses.


“I think a sex strike could really work on college campuses where there’s an abundance of sexual harassment or date rapes,” Lee told Stephen Colbert on The Late Show. “Second semester it’s going to happen. Once people coming back from Christmas and some stuff jumps off, there’s going to be sex strikes in universities and college campuses across this country.”

A recent survey of US college campuses found that nearly a quarter of female students had experienced some form of unwanted sexual advance. More than 10% of respondents said they had been physically assaulted or threatened with physical assault by men in pursuit of sex.

The director was discussing his new film Chi-Raq with Colbert. Based on Lysistrata, a satire by Aristophanes, the film follows a group of women on the south side of Chicago who decide to fight gun crime by withholding sex from their men. In real life, the film has reportedly inspired a group of 37 women to follow suit.

Lee was criticized by Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel earlier this year for appropriating Chi-Raq – a rap slang term used to compare the violence in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood to that seen in the Iraq war zone – as his film’s title. In the interview, Colbert cited statistics that showed that since 2001 more Americans had died in Chicago than in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

Lee also commented on the killing of Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old black Chicago resident who was killed by Jason Van Dyke, a white police officer who has since been charged with McDonald’s murder. The director praised the decision to release police dashcam footage of McDonald’s killing, despite fears that it would prompt violent protest.

“They’re worried because they think black folks in Chicago are going to run amok,” Lee said. “I think there’s a way to have peaceful demonstrations without tearing stuff up. I’m glad the tape was released. This is democracy. I sometimes think we pick and choose what America should see.”

Demonstrations in Chicago in the wake of McDonald’s death have been largely non-violent, with President Obama praising “the people of his hometown for keeping protests peaceful”.

“Like many Americans, I was deeply disturbed by the footage of the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald,” he wrote on Facebook. “This Thanksgiving, I ask everybody to keep those who’ve suffered tragic loss in our thoughts and prayers, and to be thankful for the overwhelming majority of men and women in uniform who protect our communities with honor.”

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