by Louise Perry”The case against the sexual revolution(Policy, $19.85) bills itself as a “countercultural polemic from one of the most exciting young voices in contemporary feminism.”
Hilariously – and encouragingly – much of it could have been written by a straightforward Catholic grandmother – or a human being of either sex and any age with a modicum of common sense.
Perry, a London-based secular writer and columnist for the New Statesman, proposes a new sexual culture built around “dignity, virtue and restraint”.
Well, amen. Chapter titles include “Sex should be taken seriously”, “Men and women are different”, “Sex without love is not stimulating”, “Consent is not enough”, “Violence is not is not love”, “People are not commodities” and – miracle of miracles – “Marriage is good.”
Instead of spouting the ideology of identity politics, Perry turns to evolution, biology and psychology and asks: what is best for the well-being of women? What do women really need?
She begins by stating a fact of flagrant evidence: the sexual revolution has taken place almost entirely for the benefit of men. To cut to the chase: Why wouldn’t the guy take off after having sex? He suffers no consequences. No social stigma. No moral censorship. And with the availability of birth control (which Perry generally applauds) and abortion (not so much), in the event of pregnancy, you are on your own: your choice, your baby.
To reduce the incidence of rape, she points out, it’s not a good idea for a woman to get drunk and walk around alone at night. It may seem obvious, but such basic notions of “playing with our heads held high” are seen by many feminists as victim-blaming and therefore discouraged.
This incitement, under the banner of “freedom,” to abdicate agency and responsibility for our behavior is typical of cultural feminism. Instead of celebrating and cherishing our femininity, we professed to despise men, then slavishly imitated the worst of them all: the occasional womanizer, the bad boy.
If we want to imitate men, I think, why not model the faithful husband and father? Better yet, why imitate them at all? Why not really “take back the night” and start standing up for our own deepest hearts? Why not support our sisters by emphasizing that the time to exercise control over our bodies is before having sex with someone who is not irrevocably committed to us?
Hello: Women are smaller, weaker and more vulnerable than men. We are lower on what psychologists call “psychosexuality”: the desire for sexual variety.
And because we are built, at all levels, around the fact that we can bring new life into the world, we look for different things in a sexual partner than we do in men. So listen to your mother, Perry said. Ask yourself: is this a man who would make a good father for my children?
Here’s a radical idea: sex is a matter of social justice. As Perry points out, if we watch pornography, we promote sexual violence and human trafficking. If we ignore our internal alarm system, we encourage other women to do the same.
If we engage in cowardly sexual behavior, I might add, then we are promoting cowardly sexual behavior in everyone: our neighbors, our sons and daughters, our priest, the men on the other side of the world who are going to give up the poor women they impregnate.
Perry points out that monogamy, while not in accordance with our natural inclinations, creates a more robust economy, more stable communities, a deeper sense of purpose and meaning, and ultimately more happiness for men and women. women.
She makes an important related point: that heterosexual monogamy weighs far more heavily and calls for more coercion from men than from women.
In doing so, she unwittingly refutes the accusation that the Church is anti-feminine. In fact, almost every page of Perry’s book reminded me that the teachings of the Church are perfectly designed to protect and cherish women and children on whom the emotional and physical burden of uncommitted sex, pregnancy and of poverty always falls most heavily.
The Church calls men and women to celibacy outside of the sacrament of marriage.
It’s hard, but the good news is that by sacrificing our lives for our friends, we are given the very meaning and purpose that our culture so largely lacks.
In the apostolic exhortation “Familiaris consortio” (“The community of the family”), Pope John Paul II wrote: “Virginity and apostolic celibacy not only do not contradict the dignity of marriage, but presuppose it and confirm. More precisely, “virginity keeps the Church aware of the mystery of marriage and defends it against any attempt to impoverish it or reduce its importance” (no. 16).
Yet the only place I separate myself from Perry is that the decidedly secular agenda she describes — solid in almost every way — runs so sharply against our human grain that hardly anyone would follow it except out of supernatural love.
“Who then can be saved? ask the disciples for another difficult lesson (Matthew 19:23-26).
“For human beings, this is impossible”, replies Christ, “but for God, everything is possible”.