Katherine Jean Lopez and Mary Eberstadt, "Pill Buzz Kill". July 20
READER, we are about to slog through an particularly unappetizing example of Intellectual Movement Conservatism. Which, like its model, the Holy Roman Empire, starts off 0-3 before it ever takes a swing. I'm not particularly a connoisseur of these sorts of carryings-on. I hope you'll forgive my lack of patience.
But just tell me: how could someone be either one of these people? Even for money? How in the world do you grow to peri-menopausalism in the modern age still grousing about The Moral Effects of the Pill? Okay, granted, your favorite brand of Bronze Age superstition says it's immoral. But your favorite brand of Bronze Age superstition says a lot of things. Many are flat-out embarrassing. Either learn to keep it to yourself, or become an Evangelical. Public displays of insanity are positively encouraged over there.
Okay, granted, I have zero empathy for this, and not much more sympathy. I happen to enjoy a good fuck. I was raised a Christian, Protestant division, and we didn't go in for filigreed faith and infallible leaders. The thing I took from Christianity was an individual responsibility towards the Truth. I know, the nuns don't teach you that , but Protestantism's been around since the 16th century. At least acknowledge that. It's not like you have to share Heaven with 'em or anything.
The controversy over the Department of Health and Human Services contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing-pill mandate has been dismissed as one having to do with access to contraception, part of a John Boehner– or Catholic Church–orchestrated “war on women.” In truth, it has to do with religious liberty and the federal government’s forcing religious institutions and individuals to get with its sexual-ideological program, despite conscience objections.
Friends, this spark is the product of rubbing two right-wing sinecures together.
It has also been presented as a “preventative services” women’s-health measure – meaning that the government has officially made fertility a disease, and pregnancy something to be prevented.
Every time you people come up with a snappy retort you go into your Touchdown Dance.
How did we get to this point? Is there a healthier and saner way to look at contraception? There is, and Mary Eberstadt outlines it in her new book, Adam and Eve after the Pill. The HHS-mandate debate may not be primarily about contraception, but it gives us a much-needed opportunity to have a better public conversation about the issue.
Maybe you could ask the public about that.
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: “Modern contraception” may be “the central fact” of “our time.” That revolutionary?
"Yes," "indeed". That?
MARY EBERSTADT: Yes, the sexual revolution really is all that. Name one other single social force that has changed so much about life for so many people everywhere on the planet. Besides National Review Online, of course.
Thanks, I'm here all week, if the Hoover Institute keeps writing checks. Don't forget to try the extra-cruelty veal, and refuse to tip your waitress, the parasitical slattern.
Who even talks like this? Fanboys unaware they're revealing nothing so much as their own limited perspectives, that's who. Neither of these women ever drew a breath in Pre-Pill Moral America. Neither has the slightest inkling, let alone concern, of what life was like for a half-billion Indians in 1948, or a half-billion landless Chinese peasants before Mao, or 20 million African-Americans in their own country around the time the National Review was founded to set them free.
Forty to fifty million people worldwide are estimated to have died in World War II, which was the product of a single social force. But this is dwarfed by the idea that somewhere right this minute some slut is giving a blow job without feeling cheap about it. And this woman is about to lecture us on History.
LOPEZ: You note that there are things that could be said in the 1940s and 1950s by sociologists that we now cannot say — unless we seek “to be written off as religious zealots or as the blogosphere’s laughingstock du jour” — on account of “our changed moral code.” Have you been reading my inbox again?
For such a talkative bunch, "conservatives" sure are prevented from speaking a lot. We'll be name-checking Charles "Muffled" Murray in a bit, by the way.
EBERSTADT: I don’t have to, Kathryn — I can already guess what’s in it! Nothing brings out the gibbering hysteria quite like countercultural talk about sex. So let’s put some of it into historical and intellectual perspective.
Reader, close your eyes and imagine five instances of "gibbering hysteria" in our politics. Now open your eyes. How many of them involved "countercultural sex talk"?
Pitirim Sorokin, founder of Harvard’s department of sociology and a towering figure in his time, wrote a book almost 60 years ago, intended for a general audience, called The American Sex Revolution.
Sociology: the Queen of the Natural Sciences.
He argued back then that the revolution would have negative effects across society via an increase in broken homes and general dissolution. He went so far as to argue that the sexual revolution would be the most consequential modern revolution for all humanity, excepting only the totalitarian political experiments.
So? Is "combing post-dated social theory to find someone who agreed with you" some sort of discipline to you people?
Just imagine any Harvard sociologist publishing a book like that today — or any sociologist, period. It would be academic suicide.
So's a sociology degree.
The few hardy souls who do venture into Sorokin’s territory constantly risk becoming pariahs. Witness the unhinged ferocity of some of the attacks on recent work by social scientist Mark Regnerus.
Forgive me, but doesn't Dr. Regnerus have a job? And wasn't the "unhinged ferocity" unleashed by his publishing something?
LOPEZ: Seriously, why are we so obsessed with sex?
No, really. Katherine would like to know. In detail.
EBERSTADT: The revolution is like a big party that a lot of people really looked forward to, but that’s now gotten way out of control. Nobody wants to be the first to leave, and nobody wants to tattle on anyone else — but everybody knows things have run seriously amok. At this point in the evening, we’re like a bunch of drunks reassuring ourselves that everything’s going to be fine tomorrow, even as most people know deep down that it isn’t.
Yes, kids, in eighty years time you're going to wake up and regret all that sex stuff.
Look, I don't know about you, but over the last sixty years this is about all I've heard, especially from the Right. It was your only concern during the first ten years of the AIDS pandemic. I've met a lot of people in that time who enjoyed fucking, but few of them bothered quoting sociology texts in their defense, fewer still were Proselytizing Polyamorists or Philosophical Child Molesters, and none that I recall cited cheap and effective contraception as a blinding light which had shown them the way.
You could read a fascinating sociological study called “The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness,” cited in the book, to prove the point. Or you could just peruse the last few years of tony secular magazines like the Atlantic for writing on relations between the sexes. What are these women saying? Some are giving up on marriage. Some are giving up on men. Some are creating purposely fatherless homes because they can’t or won’t have a man in their life. And all of them wonder aloud about what’s killing romance and sex.
Women never expressed dissatisfaction in the good old days. Because we didn't let 'em speak.
Why are all these educated, enlightened, relatively well-off women so unhappy, in their very own words? Well, one explanation could be that contrary to what they’ve been told to believe all their lives, the revolution and its cheerleading squad, modern feminism, haven’t delivered the human goods
Isn't "in their own words" supposed to mean something like "in their own words"?
LOPEZ: The denial “bears comparison to the deep denial among Western intellectuals that was characteristic of the last great debate that ran for decades . . . the Cold War”? Isn’t that a bit much?
EBERSTADT: Nope. For decades now, sociologists and other experts have built up a library’s worth of evidence about the toll of this human experiment. Yet a great many sophisticated people deny that this record exists and excoriate anyone who so much as points his thumb at it. This is uncannily reminiscent of what happened during the Cold War, when an impressive number of sophisticated people across the West reacted to Communism . . . by attacking anti-Communists rather than Communists.
Of course in retrospect, everyone can see that Communism was exactly what the anti-Communists said it was: an experiment with enormous costs. Nobody disputes that anymore, not even all those anti-anti-Communists who spent their days defending or rationalizing the thing. The point is that as it turned out, a lot of sophisticated people were wrong all along about a pretty important issue that turned out in retrospect to be a no-brainer.
Thank God, too. Imagine if the Chinese Communists owned America.
That’s where the comparison to denial about the legacy of the sexual revolution comes in. Right now, those who might be called the “anti-anti-liberationists” are running the show. In retrospect, though, they’ll be the losers in this debate, just like the anti-anti-Communists were yesterday, and for the same reason: because the facts aren’t on their side.
Nope. All they've got is deliriously wanton carnality.
I think that evolution is happening already, in fact. Just look at the recent article in the New York Times, all about how being married or unmarried is a decisive factor not only in income inequality — married people are financially better off — but also, the author dares to suggest, in children’s overall well-being.
That kind of thinking in the paper of record represents a real turnaround. It means that the evidence assembled by Charles Murray and W. Bradford Wilcox and other tenacious social scientists about the “marriage gap” has finally started to sink in.
Okay, panel, I'm gonna flip all the cards over, which I should have done earlier, say, with K-Lo's smarmy "question" there, or the point at which I started to read the article. Yes, one day we're all gonna wake up--and if my own intuition, plus the work of brave social commentators like Charles Murray, despite it being censored, tells me anything, it's that that day is coming soon--and realize that the last seventy years have been a bad Liberal charade--all the bad parts, that is--and then we'll get back to realizing that Negro children have smaller heads because God wants them to be menials, and Hispanics are built low to the ground because that's where the crops are, and sex will go back to being a chore. And we'll recognize the place for the first time.
This spares you from this:
A typical 1950s housewife, for instance, would have been laissez-faire about food, but likely a Kantian about sex — i.e., someone who thought moral law applied to the latter area, but not the former. Today, say for that woman’s 20-year-old granddaughter and plenty of other people, those same moral poles have been perfectly reversed. That is, many people today are laissez-faire about sex, thinking it is strictly a private matter between consenting adults — but they are simultaneously and increasingly morally censorious about food issues. Just think of the passion behind discussions of the rights and wrongs of buying organic, or being a vegan, or advocating slow food or locavorism, or not buying tuna from certain whalers — etc., etc., etc.
Can'tcha feel the groundswell for getting the taint out of sex, and putting in back in our food, where Grandma knew it belonged?