Has the Sexual Revolution Been Good for Women?


According to this fascinating piece in the Wall Street Journal and Houston Baptist University’s periodical The City by Mary Eberstadt, it would be a solid and affirmative no. Her argument is simple: the sexual revolution has not helped but instead hurt men, women, and children:

Spring came early to most of the 50 states this year—and with it, at least in the political fields, the usual crop of mixed truths, untruths, and wildly growing falsehoods. Let’s yank up one of those weeds for a little inspection: the idea that a national “war on women” is afoot.

It’s an ideological whopper that demands more scrutiny than it has so far gotten, because underneath it are solid rocks of myth concerning what are called the “social issues.” Let’s turn over a few of these to see what facts they hide.

Myth No. 1: The “war on women” consists of tyrannical men arrayed against oppressed but pluckily united women.

In the first place, womankind, bless her fickle heart, is not exactly united on…anything.

Public opinion polls show women to be roughly evenly divided on the question of abortion. This same diversity of opinion was also manifest in the arguments over the proposed new federal mandate forcing employers to pay for birth control, including abortifacients.

It seems difficult to argue that the results of the revolution have been a slam-dunk for happiness.

Over 20,000 women, from all walks of life, signed an open letter to President Barack Obama and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius objecting to the federal mandate. Co-written by lawyers Helen Alvare and Kim Daniels, that letter alone answered the taunting question of supporters of the measure, “Where are the women?” The answer: in impressive numbers on the opposite side of the dispute.

Other leaders hailing from the XX side of the chromosome gap also took public stands against the mandate, including politicians, pundits, professors, editors and authors who don’t seem to have gotten the message that they are victims in all this. They considered the unexpected federal fiat a violation of religious liberty and individual conscience, but they didn’t think these wrongs had anything to do with themselves qua women. Many men shared their view.

You can read the rest of the articles by clicking on the links above. I for one, was fascinated by the discussion. However, one of the most incredible statements, and perhaps the most helpful, was her reference to Eric Kaufmann’s book Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?, where Kaufmann argues (and Eberstadt summarizes) that “in every religion the religious have more children. And across the board of the modern West, secular people have fewer to none. And in the long run, he thinks, as the title suggests, that the religious will inherit the earth. I’m not a demographer so I tend not to go there, but I think there are other forces, too, that will propel people back toward more traditional arrangements.”

Mary Eberstadt is the author of Adam and Eve After The Pill: Paradoxes of the Sexual Revolution.

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